The NTPA proudly features Brooke Hanson as this week’s member spotlight. As the founder of Supertutor Media, Brooke is a renowned expert in test preparation. Located in Los Angeles, Brooke started as a filmmaker and then pivoted to combine her experience tutoring the SAT® and the ACT® with her love of video to create the YouTube channel SupertutorTV. Now, SupertutorTV is more than a channel! It offers online seminars, group dSAT courses, private tutoring for the SAT®, ACT®, GRE®, ISEE®, SSAT®, AP Coursework, Math Kangaroo, AMC/AIME, college consulting for top 50 universities, essay coaching, and 8+ senior and junior level tutors. Additionally, SupertutorTV offers online self-paced courses for the SAT® and the ACT®. Supertutor’s newly launched “Tutor Mode” further brings a full-featured digital SAT multimedia teaching platform to connect tutors and students with practice tests, a database of questions with a custom quiz creator by level/difficulty, an auto study list generator from test results, Bluebook import and PDF report feature, short teaching videos on all topics, and practice sets to match.

Member Details

Member: Brooke Hanson

Business: Supertutor Media

Website: supertutortv.com

Started: 2013

Before starting SupertutorTV, Brooke contracted with over ten education companies as a tutor and curriculum developer. She also employs her storytelling background as a college admissions essay coach and consultant and is a member of NACAC. Her recent essay coaching students have been accepted at universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton. In addition to her education work, Brooke is also a filmmaker. For two seasons, she was a showrunner for a Yahoo! video series with Emmy-nominated host Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance); she has co-produced, written, and edited a documentary for public television with actress Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Bring It On), and also has field-produced EPK and digital content for the star-studded fundraising efforts of Stand Up to Cancer. Brooke graduated with honors from Stanford University with a BA in American Studies and holds an MFA in Cinematic Arts Production from the University of Southern California.

 

Tell us how your background influenced your approach to test prep.

I originally went to USC for an MFA, intending to be a filmmaker. I’m a creative at heart, but once I graduated, I found that the reality of working in content creation in Hollywood had multiple complicating factors, from a lopsided job market (more supply than demand), long hours, and project-based work that meant I was always looking for the next gig. But working on the side as a tutor helped me keep afloat. Eventually, I began to see how rewarding working with students could be. People were grateful for my work, and I was often praised as the favorite tutor wherever I was working. I began to branch off then and build my own tutoring practice. I also began to do a bit of work creating short-form videos for YouTubers and for Yahoo! and got to the point where I wondered what would happen if, instead of helping others build their brands or selves, if I combined the two things I did and used my creative skills to make content that educates and entertains. That definitely informs my teaching– I want to make what I present interesting, compelling, and helpful all at once, whether with a 1:1 student or in a video. I want students to engage and remember what they learn.

What strategies do you employ to build confidence and reduce anxiety in your students facing high-stakes tests?

To build confidence with students, I ensure they’re prepared on all levels– content, approach, tips, and strategies. And I ensure we’ve practiced, drilled down what they need, and are ready. Readiness, for me, is a great way to build confidence. In terms of reducing anxiety, planning is one element we always discuss. Planning means we always anticipate if they struggle with test anxiety, this is going to be a long road, but also what is Plan A, Plan B, Plan C– even down to the college application plan– if I don’t get the score what colleges are still on the table– at what point do I switch tests. We put aside the “one and done” mentality and embrace that time and effort may mean persistence and multiple tests, possibly across the SAT and ACT. Once we can embrace that, we can move beyond the potential burnout because a first exam is disappointing and understand it’s a game of endurance and normalization of the process– this isn’t the end of the world, it’s one piece of a bigger agenda.

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What key factors should students and parents consider when choosing a test prep service?

First, I always say private tutoring 1:1 is the gold standard. Many families worry that it’s too expensive, but then sign up for a $600 group class– that could have been ~4 1:1 one-hour sessions supplemented by our DIGITAL SAT online course and videos — and the latter, in many cases, I find can bring better results depending on how much time a student has to prepare. Still, there are a lot of mediocre tutors out there charging $90-200/hour. I’ve interviewed them! Doing a one-hour practice session with a tutor 1:1 before you commit to a package is always good. A great tutor will know how to approach questions, ensure students understand what they’re covering, synthesize ideas into memorable takeaways, and ideally push students to work on the problems themselves. Group classes can also be good– but be aware of your students. Will they do the homework? Will they participate? Classes are good for around 1/2 of my students, but 1:1 works for nearly 90%.

If you do want to do a class, do that first– early on. Give yourself time in case it doesn’t work out. Self-prep is amazing, but it takes a very special student to get the maximum gains possible — only about 5% of students are in that category, in my experience. And again, start early if you are self-prep. Ensure you have the runway to change course if you hope to save money and roll the dice on self-discipline. Also– in general, it’s easier to trust local and independent tutoring companies above the big franchises– small business owners must deliver high-quality education, while big brands can rely on name awareness and they can often get by without hiring the most qualified tutors– the actual teacher matters most, and I know people who have worked for those companies that are amazing– but there’s unevenness. Starting with the NTPA directory is a good move– these are vetted, dedicated tutors who sign a code of ethics and are committed to improving their craft.

How do you stay updated with the latest educational trends to enhance your tutoring approach?

I try to read, watch, and see what other tutors do– whether that’s my fellow YouTubers, books by independent tutors, or checking out other tutors’ websites, methods, etc. Talking to NTPA members is also really insightful– there’s so much diversity in how each tutor approaches their work, and those conversations have brought so much to what I do. The NTPA has great videos online from past sessions. I can’t always make the meetings, but these are great, too, for seeing other perspectives.

What challenges did one of your most successful students overcome, and how did you support them through that process?

I once worked with a student for just a couple of lessons, and he was able to jump-start his ACT reading from a 24 to a 36. In the rest of the sections, he easily scored over 30, but his reading process wasn’t working.

What was extremely eye-opening for him was simply borne out of a conversation with me about how he was approaching the passage and walking through a few passages together.

Essentially he was approaching the ACT as if it were a multiple-choice test at school, where a teacher is probably looking for students to identify information they’ve read in a closed book environment: reading the text beforehand and answering without access to that text. A test of recall. His entire approach was based on not actually internalizing the question; rather, he was simply picking the answer he remembered seeing mentioned in the passage. He had grown so accustomed to this working in his English classes that the shift to a test where the question matters weren’t automatic. Once he figured that out– it was like wildfire!

On the ACT, 90% of the time, every answer choice is in the passage. The question does not ask, “Which of these did the passage mention?”

A similar effect can plague students on the SAT: They replace whatever the prompt actually says with ” Does the passage say this?” But just because an answer choice states something “true,” it doesn’t make the answer choice “right.”

One of my favorite strategies is asking students to read the question and pretend it’s not multiple-choice to dodge this effect. Something happens when you don’t approach a test in multiple-choice mode and instead approach it as if it were an open answer: your brain works harder. You avoid the power of suggestion. You get total clarity.

What’s amazing is that such a small adjustment to their process can reap incredible results for some students.

In what ways has your tutoring service enhanced your community?

Every year, I get emails from students across the country (and world) telling me, “I watched your YouTube. I have few resources in prep and admissions, and I just got into Dartmouth” or Brown or wherever they get in or “I got a 36 on my ACT” cramming your videos the week before. Or I’m from Bangladesh, and I’m super low-income. I watched your channel and got a full ride from Stanford following your tips. What was really wild was attending my 20-year Stanford reunion and having 10 kids walk up to me, ask for a selfie, or yell “Supertutor!” and tell me how they used my videos or were 1st gen low resource, and I was their virtual counselor. It was like being a celebrity for two days. None of them ever purchased anything from me, but they knew me, knew what I did, and said thank you.

I don’t always see or hear the students I impact, so it’s been so cool to meet the incredible and energetic human beings whom maybe I could help, even in a small way. Below, I’ve shared one video I think is a great tool for students to use: a video we revamp each year — What’s a Good (Digital) SAT Score in 2024? Our viewers love that data, and sharing that data is one way we can help students understand their goals and possibilities.

What’s the Best Way For NTPA Members To Sample Your Content

A lot of people know us for our YouTube videos, but we’ve started diving into TikTok as a lot of our target viewers are there– we’ve randomly gone viral several times and now have millions of views and 300k+ likes– and are currently clocking more monthly views on TikTok than YouTube. The content is very different, and the strangest things take off (my comedy shorts did pretty well, and anything with the word “Harvard”). But we’re having fun and hopefully keeping up with the testing and admissions news cycle there, too, and have been getting more traction on new videos via the short forms than new long-form videos. If you don’t do TikTok, our SuperTutorTV Instagram Page also publishes our shorts.

Last Updated on July 5, 2024 by Marc Gray