Meet Ari Freuman, this week’s NTPA member feature! Ari started his tutoring career in 2013, primarily serving Northern New Jersey and New York students. Ari Freuman identified a significant challenge for parents seeking proficient SAT and ACT tutors. To solve this, he curated and developed a team of dynamic and inspiring tutors, creating what is known today as Ivy Tutor.

Member: Ari Freuman

Business: Ivy Tutor


Started: 2020


About Ari Freuman


Ari embarked on his test prep career while completing his Master’s degree in Psychology at SUNY New Paltz and further honed his skills through his second Master’s degree in Statistics. Leveraging his deep understanding from graduate-level studies, Ari established himself as a leading private tutor in the New York metropolitan area. Known as the original “Ivy Tutor,” he built a reputation for reliably helping students maximize their scoring potential. Recognizing the need for high-quality tutoring services, Ari founded Ivy Tutor to set a new standard in educational excellence. Ari serves students in person in Hoboken, New Jersey, but he virtually teaches many students worldwide.


How did you become a test prep tutor?


I sometimes joke that nobody chooses tutoring; tutoring chooses them. In graduate school, I had my sights set on what I considered to be a proper career: marketing research. Like most graduate students, I needed side work to make ends meet. Tutoring chooses you by rewarding you handsomely—if you’re good at it. I was good at it. For the first several years, I approached tutoring much the same way a bartender approaches bartending, as a way to bide my time and pay my bills.


What’s more, I enjoyed the lifestyle of being my own boss, setting my own hours, and having ample vacation time, etc. It did not hit me until about year five that this was my career. That was a pivotal point for me because it sharpened my focus considerably. I knew I would need to invest in myself as a brand or a company. I chose the latter. Within a few years, I founded Ivy Tutor, and I haven’t looked back.


How do you incorporate feedback from students to enhance the learning experience?


In tutoring marketing, “personalized,” “bespoke,” “tailored,” etc. are huge buzzwords. The fact is personalization is what makes tutoring effective. At the most superficial level, personalization means you’re teaching students what they need to learn, but it’s a really fun rabbit hole to go down. Before I had all the latest tools to measure cognitive abilities and personality tendencies, I took an intuitive approach by courting my students’ affinity; if you can empathize with all the strangeness associated with being a high schooler —feeling like an adult, that is being subjected to the whims of parents, teachers, and society— your students will feel an affinity toward you.


If you can go further and understand how that intersects with their personality, interests, social life, etc., you’ll be more than a tutor to that student. You’ll be a person they can be themselves with. They will open up, they will engage —and most importantly— they will soak up whatever you say like a sponge. Human connection is powerful like that. Now that we’ve incorporated technology that adds a scientific element to tutoring, I can tailor the specific strategies.


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


I’ll focus on test prep tutoring for this one, as this is Ivy Tutor’s service. The tutoring space does not have the equivalent of a bar association or medical board. This is the Wild West. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to suss out the imposters. Ask, ‘What is your tutoring philosophy?’ If you have to cut the tutor off after several minutes of thoughtful and nuanced explanation, you’ve found somebody who is thoughtful and brings a wealth of experience.


Contrary to what most parents assume, test prep is so much more than teaching some tips or tricks. It is broad and multifaceted, spanning so many domains that there is no way to encapsulate a philosophy in a few pithy sentences. The second tip might get me in trouble, but I’ll say it here anyway: avoid tutors too keen on putting the onus on the student for improvements. Tutors who don’t deliver consistent results learn how to cushion their failures early on.


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


I’m a voracious consumer of anything that can make me a better tutor. Unfortunately, there is no research area specifically devoted to effective tutoring techniques. However, learning about thinking and memory can be helpful, as they set you on the right track. The National Test Prep Association is perhaps the best single resource for learning how to improve tutoring outcomes. When you put a bunch of smart, collaborative people who all share the same goals in a room, the good ideas will propagate at the expense of the bad ones. This process requires a bit of humility because tutors ultimately need to be honest with themselves. Assumptions we hold near and dear might be wrong, and we must be open to this possibility.


Can you recount a particularly memorable transformation you’ve witnessed in a student’s academic journey?


I can think of many, but I’ll share one of my favorites. I had a student, ‘Steven,’ who didn’t apply himself. His primary interest was sports. Intellectual pursuits did not activate him, but I understood he had a competitive spirit. What students rarely consider, in part because it’s seldom acknowledged in schools, is that normed tests are zero-sum: scores are determined by how students perform relative to one another.


It’s ultimately a competition, and that can be very motivating for students like Steven. I’ll remain agnostic as to whether this is healthy, but Steven didn’t care nearly as much about his score as he did about his percentile rank. For the months we worked together, Steven became a sharper individual. Once reserved for sports, energy and focus became available for test prep. Yes, his scores improved significantly, but the effects were global. His grades shot up, and one of the teachers noted to the parents how amazing this transformation was.


Conclusion: If your tutoring experience were a mystery book, what would the story be?


A mystery about Ari and Ivy Tutor would sell one, maybe two copies. Here goes: I’d be a hard-boiled gumshoe tutor. A “dame,” Scarlett Montana, would sashay into my office—which doesn’t exist because we don’t have a brick-and-mortar location. She’d share her case with me. She tells me her son’s SAT results are inexplicable: “He did poorly, but he gets straight A’s in school. I guess he’s just a poor test taker.”


Initially, I’d be skeptical, suspecting that “little Jimmy” might not be the sharpest tool in the shed. But upon meeting Jimmy, I’d be struck by his boundless curiosity and sharp intellect. I’d get to know him and administer a cognitive assessment. His scores? Off the charts. Nothing would make sense. I’d buckle down with Jimmy, committed to cracking his case. Meanwhile, a subplot would unfurl—a romantic entanglement with Scarlett complicated by her jealous ex-husband.


Along the way, I discovered that Jimmy had learned the alphabet backward and couldn’t read words straight. After re-teaching Jimmy the alphabet, he aced the SAT with the highest recorded score: a perfect 1600. The story would wrap with Scarlett and Jimmy moving to Omaha because that feels just right.


Last Updated on May 1, 2024 by Marc Gray