The NTPA is proud to feature Ingrid Moats, the founder of Tampa Bay Test Prep, as this week’s member spotlight. Tampa Bay Test Prep is an online school about 45 minutes north of Tampa. It offers comprehensive test prep for the SAT, ACT, competition mathematics, and elementary through high school math, focusing on Singapore math methods.

Member: Ingrid Moats
Business: Tampa Bay Test Prep
Started: 2013

What inspired you to start a test prep business?

I was inspired to start a test prep business when I saw that students at the high school I worked at were struggling to complete their math End of the Course (EOC) test requirements. I wanted to help them get their high school diplomas by helping them pass their tests. One thing led to another, and soon I wasn’t just helping students with EOC test prep but also ACT, SAT, elementary through high school math, and even competition math.

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

Our goal is to make math as easy as possible to understand. I feel that once students understand the material completely, they gain confidence and have less anxiety. Whenever possible, we connect math to real life and show them how to use different math strategies, like those seen in Singapore math, to make sense of the math that they encounter. We focus on taking simple steps that help students at every turn along the way. For our classes and test prep, we use a particular structure that emphasizes breaking down problems into their essential parts, building a clear plan of action, and showing students how to solve problems. We also focus on enhancing students’ problem-solving abilities and providing them with strong foundational knowledge and test-taking skills. As students learn and understand more, their confidence builds.

How do you recommend students and parents prepare for the initial consultation with you?

We love answering questions and serving our parents and students, so parents and students should come to the initial consultation with examples of what they need to cover. For example, we like to see areas that the student is struggling with, an outline of what they are studying, the results and work from a prior test or diagnostic, or some questions we can discuss. The more they are able to describe what is going on or what they want out of the test preparation, the better we can help them.

Can you describe any collaborative projects or partnerships you’ve engaged in to advance your teaching techniques?

In addition to being part of the NTPA, which has been an amazing resource for staying on top of the happenings in test prep, I am also involved in learning new techniques from some world-renowned math teachers. I regularly learn from innovative and high-performing teachers around the nation about what they do to reach students and help them succeed.

Could you share an example of a student who exceeded their own expectations under your guidance?

One of my students was extremely busy and rarely had time to meet. A test was just around the corner, and we had only squeezed in one lesson. His mom had just told me that his grades had dropped, and he was at risk of failing. I asked her, “Could we manage to squeeze in another lesson?” Amazingly, we were able to squeeze in two lessons just three days before the test. The first lesson of the week was tough. There was so much to cover. Nothing seemed to stick even though we went over the steps. The easy questions were easy, but there were little nuances between questions that made the other ones difficult. Plus we had to spend almost the entire lesson on relearning the material.

Now, we were down to one more day before the test. This time, things started to click. After reviewing the same set of problems, the methods of how to solve them, what to do in each situation, and why it worked all came together. We nervously waited to hear how the test day would go. He felt good about it, but we were still awaiting the results. And when the day came, we found out he got his first A in the class. It just goes to show that practicing effectively and putting that time in can truly make a difference.

Imagine that your tutoring business becomes huge in 5 years. What does your main office look like?

In the future, when we have grown, we hope to reach more students worldwide. I’d like to have a couple of offices around the nation. As you step through the door of our main office, you will be greeted by greenery and a sign on our wall showing the number of students our company has been able to help. You would smell the aroma of delicious fresh coffee and tea.

Agents would answer questions for future clients and students in our customer services area. In our curriculum area, we would be working on improving and developing our math curriculum for grades 1-10. In our studio, staff would record videos for our self-paced courses, and in our conference rooms and classrooms, we would be hosting training for teachers and parents. Meanwhile, in our virtual conference room, our staff would be meeting to coordinate our math events, work on our children’s math books, and work on ways to outreach and help students enjoy and experience math.