Heather Forgione fell into the test prep business, taking an entry level job in Florida soon after college 16 years ago, working her way up and, eventually starting her own - Forgione Tutoring.
Forgione launched her business in Raleigh in 2007 and, as her two kids got older, expanded it a few years ago. She now has four tutors and offices in Raleigh and Cary.
"I had tutored in college and high school," Forgione tells me. "It just came natural."
Forgione Tutoring focuses on preparing students for the ACT and SAT college placement tests. She'll evaluate a student's PSAT, the pre-test for the SAT, and PLAN scores, the preliminary test for the ACT, along with other factors to help determine which test is best for a student - the SAT or ACT.
From there, Forgione and her tutors will pinpoint a student's strengths and weaknesses, honing in on subjects such as grammar or algebra where a student might need extra attention. She also is busy in the summer and fall, helping high school seniors refine their college application essays.
Forgione's schedule fills up in the summer with students seeking to boost their scores. She recommends that students start preparing for those standardized tests in the summer before their junior year of high school when their schedules aren't packed with homework, sports practices and other extracurricular activities.
By then, students typically have taken both the PSAT and PLAN tests as sophomores and they have an idea of where they stand.
In other words ... "really facing the truth at the end of the sophomore year," said Forgione, so students can knock the tests out during their junior year and concentrate on those college applications as seniors. Some students also could need more help if they are struggling in a topic or experience test anxiety. And many take the test two or three times.
"Get a plan in place," Forgione recommends. "Don't wait until you're half way through junior year."
Forgione enjoys the work - helping students through a stressful time and ultimately seeing their success as they get the scores - and the college acceptance letters - they've worked hard for. As she hires on new tutors, she looks for people who not only have a deep understanding of the tests, but who also can act as a cheerleader for their clients.
"It's such a stressful time of your life and it's really short lived," Forgione says of the period when high schoolers are focused on the tests. "You need somebody who is going to pump you up."
Said Forgione: "I really like it. I have the freedom and flexibility to teach so many different subjects. It never gets boring."
Forgione will be sharing tips here on Go Ask Mom weekly for the next few weeks (including some discussion about the new SAT). Forgione Tutoring offers mostly one-on-one tutoring, but also will consider group tutoring sessions if friends or families want to pair up.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.