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Huntington Learning: Pushing SAT/ACT Prep in Test-Optional Circumstances

June 29, 2021

This week, I received a solicitation from Huntington Learning Center to “OPEN NOW: Find out why the SAT/ACT still matter.”

The glaring, bolded, largest-print info on the envelope was



Now, at first glance, a prospective Huntington client might believe that what Huntington is stating is that Huntington has some secret sauce for making a student’s ACT score increase by 5.4 points across ACT administrations, and that Huntington’s dazzling test prep can increase a student’s SAT score by 229 points across administrations.

But, but, one must pay attention to the asterisk:

Average score increases*



One must open the envelope to understand the asterisk, which one must seek for in the tiniest print– after one sees the same grandiose ad taking up roughly one-third of an entire page.

Here’s the disclamer message in the finest of print:

*Results are based on surveys of 3,289 Huntington students graduating in 2019, using their initial Huntington Academic Evaluation and final SAT/ACT test score.

So. That amazing point jump is not from SAT to SAT or ACT to ACT; it is from “initial Huntington Academic Evaluation” to “final SAT/ACT score.”

Technically, Huntington did not state that the “average score increase” was from one official SAT/ACT administration to the next. They just framed the message in CYA fashion and let prospective customers assume it. That noted, Huntington does offer practice SAT and ACT tests– for at least $100, and maybe you get one free if you *act now.* (“Call today and save $100 on your student’s SAT or ACT practice test.”)

But back to that “OPEN NOW: Find out why the SAT/ACT still matter.”

Without any reference other than Huntington’s customer-soliciting opinion, readers receive the following:

Dear Parent:

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the college admission process. SAT and ACT tests have been cancelled or postponed and now more schools are offering “test optional” or “test blind”. The SAT and ACT still matter and impact admissions decisions and scholarship opportunities.

Do the second and third sentences appear to contradict one another on admissions? Is it possible that having no ACT or SAT score might actually assist some students with scholarship opportunites? (And does the second sentence appear to be a run-on with improper positioning of end punctuation by an American-based educational business?)

The SAT and ACT still matter because we printed it in pink. Never mind that “test blind” means that colleges and universities intentionally ignore SAT and ACT scores if students send them anyway.

Next statement, without any reference but repeating the “scholarship” lure:

A strong test score improves your student’s admissions profile and impacts scholarship opportunities.

No test score would “improve your admissions profile” in a test-blind admissions situation. Either Huntington does not know so, or Huntington is counting on its target audience not knowing so. Uninformed or deceptive– those are the choices.

And what is a “strong” test score?

It’s a way of promoting high test scores without guaranteeing a high test score. CYA.

More bold:

At Huntington, the average score increase is 229 points on the SAT and 5.4 points on the ACT.

They forgot the asterisk this time, but since this very same message takes up much of the right side of the page (complete with asterisk), then CYA. Or CHA, in this case.

Huntington Learing Center is a franchise. One need not have any educational background; the tutoring/test-prep is pre-packaged, and after four weeks of training, you can be ready to go– for anywhere between $147K and $266K at startup.

And, of course, be sure to bring your passion:

Remember, no previous education experience required. We provide all the tools.

What you bring to the table:

–Passion for education

–Good business sense

–Ability to hire and manage a team

–Customer service and community-minded

–Motivated and entrepreneurial, but willing to follow our proven system

But no need to bring parallel structure.

I understand that tutoring is an industry, and I have no problem with the existence of a tutoring industry. However, what I do have a problem with is having the likes of Huntington deceptively luring parents and students into faulty expectations of incredible score gains on high-stakes tests that have been waived in this pandemic year for college admissions in many states. (See here and here and here.)

Had Huntington mailed a flyer encouraging student and parents to check with specific colleges and universities of interest regarding SAT/ACT requirements and then honestly offered test-prep services, I would have respected that even though I disdain standardized testing. But Huntington did not do so.

It sure looks like Huntington’s chief concern is in bolstering its bottom line in a year when the SAT and ACT matter less because of COVID-19.

The SAT and ACT still matter– to Huntington’s revenue stream.

Parents and students: If any tutoring/test-prep company sends you glossy, bold-print letters with what seem to be promises of major score gains on high-stakes tests, be sure to look for the asterisk and associated, dose-of-reality fine print. Consider whether you would really want to do business with such a company.

Check with specific colleges and universities to know whether these institutions require the SAT or ACT– and whether they would ignore test results if you sent them anyway.

Don’t let a test-prep-franchise brochure frighten you into an unnecessary expense.


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  1. Elisabeth Norman permalink

    Yeah, right your wishful thinking is great! But reality is not that. If your kid has B+ grades or have only good and not a great, ana omg portfolio with impressive activities the SAT it’s necessary. Especially if you want to get into any school that is not mediocre or C school looking into fill their chairs and hoping to overcome their struggling enrollment because of their pool quality education. Look at dropping rates… kids are quitting because they are not prepping for college. That is what the SAT is… if a kid didn’t break 1000 the chances they will struggle in college are large.

    Blended family here, and 6 kids from our large family were the college application process in the last two years: the ones that actually prepped and submitted their scores got into much better and more competitive schools and not to mention $30-70K in scholarship money. Especially if they are doing Engineering, Med School and not of of the “do you want fries with that” degree. The ones that did not prep and submit? Got into C schools, and no one of their first or second choices, oh and most importantly negligible scholarships!!!! Less than $10K in a tuition $30-55K. Not to mention that without improving their skills to do the test their are struggling on the first year of university. As they should… because with an 900-1100 obviously they were not ready for college level work… which they would if they prepped and review their materials from last 3 years, like my kids did.

    I knew better, my kids prepped and submitted their scores, my step children? Nope. We did not save money… now we are paying double for their tuition. Their GPA? not great. Awesome!? No.

    If your kid has B’s and a mediocre portfolio with some Bs on AP, and not an extensive impressive extra curricular, don’t listen to wishful thinking of people that don’t have their own kids applying…. My kid got a free ride at Pittsburg university with his 1520 and that would not happen without scores. He got significantly higher scholarships. My niece applied there (and to other competitive colleges) and didn’t submit scores. Guess what? She didn’t get there at all, got to Robert Wesleyan at best. She was very upset and she didn’t get into into any of the schools she really wanted. She got only $8K in scholarships offers. My step children same thing and their portfolio wasn’t that bad their GPA in high school??3.3-3.5. You would think they would get into some better schools. Nope.

    Submit scores and prep if you want your kid to actually get into much better schools or get significant scholarships. I spent $5K in test prep and one of my kids got a free ride and the other $30K in scholarship money. Trust me the scores were essential for these results. My niece? Got “nada”, zero!
    Please inform people better! You make it seem like is not necessary at all…unecessary expense? To me it was the best investment!! Tell them allen the facts. Parents pay more to colleges without SAT ( oh and fi you want Cornel?? or any competitive school? Free rides? forget it!!!) Without SAT you get negligible scholarships not to mention they don’t get into great schools and they struggle once there.
    Do better prep your kids for college level work and get better scholarship and better schools! Win Win!

  2. Mrs. Isa permalink

    Huntington owner here. I just saw this from a parent that posted on a facebook group.
    This made me upset.
    Huntington does have some secret sauce… we use a 14 pages student analysis that no other test prep offers, a system that have been perfected since 1977. Tried and true. We receive extensive training to deliver good results. I don’t teach kids my teachers that gave bachelors at a minimum but many times PHD teaches the kid.
    That thorough academic evaluation? I repeat not other has it. We know precisely the question type your child got incorrect ( is it end punctuation, comma? Algebra? 1 or 2? System of equations? How many questions they normally ask on main idea? We know all of that!! So we can be strategic… we also have kids do practice tests every 14-20 hours of instruction and we expect to see increases between 50 to 100 each time and if we don’t we review 1 to 1, make adjustment do remediation and test again. I go to work every day to give my best to these kids.

    You know what else we do with hour 1 to 1 approach based on valuable data from a practice test and academic evaluation that they take before joining us ? We identify skills the student is missing and that needs Remediation for the test and for college. For you to question the integrity of a small business of many families with so little regard or knowledge of the business is sad.

    We do beautiful work of preparing these kids to college. That work is very necessary and improves college success rate. We never got so many kids asking for tutoring that are struggling in college because weren’t ready for it and now they suffer
    We help them too…. but it costs more. They pay way more money now to avoid their child bombing their college classes. Oh they also tell me their scholarship was small. Was test prep really an unnecessary expense? Did these parents really save money by not sharpening their skills prior to college? My experience on dealing with hundreds of families and talking to other franchisees says otherwise. What you are promoting here including disregard for college prep and disparaging 300 small business owners from Huntington actually hurts more than help these incredible American nation, our families and kids. Colleges are happy to give away less scholarship money which before if you submit the scores they would be have to if you met the criteria. Now there is not telling or predicting how much you should get.

    With our SAT prep we prevent college struggles..We identify the gaps in grammar, writing, math and reading and give them the skills. Are they missing main idea, inferences? We remediate, and we get them ready for a successful journey for college. We do it with love, hard work but also a system that works!! I don’t make a ton of money by the way…1 to 1 tutor profits are the smallest in the market. Do your research. Huntington doesn’t do classroom style. We don’t Pay one tutor to teach 10 students.. it is individualized, low profit margens but better quality.
    However, I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I love helping kids to succeed. I can make more on the corporate world pushing paper. Is it a franchise? Yes… I don’t like paying royalty, but if I opened a prep center accross the street I could not deliver the same results that I have euth their system. So there is a secret sauce! For sure. I know for a fact. It has the huge advantage of the data engineering, Remediation, test reports and automated system of checks and balances. We hired master, bachelors and even PHD students that are trained by Huntington University to teach.
    We deliver quality! You might not like standardized tests but they actually students that aren’t ready for college paying for an entire year of tuition only to drop because they don’t have the skills to succeed despite their straight A that says otherwise. I’ve seem first hand… grades are inflated, big time. If you get a kid that didn’t break a 600 for Math for an engineering course you will realize that their chances of dropping or changing majors are huge.

    Also you know why not many other center are as accurate, and deliver as much in as us? Because that academic evaluation, that analysis and the program generated from it comes from having collected data from
    hundreds of thousand of students we prepped. It’s accurate too… we are off by 30 points plus or minus the official. That is excellent. Yes we are the oldest learning center in the nation. We perfected all we do since 1977, thank you very much. Respect experience. We know a thing or two about preparing kids for college and we throw the darts where they matter!!!!! My average increase is actually higher them what the flyer says 250 for the premier program. I under promise and over delive. Also the * you complained about? Any business worth their salt has to be careful with it. Because you can put a promise on a toast but not in a child! They get out as much as they put in and we don’t want parents to think that if their kids don’t put in the work the results are guaranteed. I am ESL by the way and you know what else I do? I help migrant families that are clueless about the college process system get their kids into better schools.

    Also you know why we can promise exact results? We get kids with learning disabilities for example. This is education you can’t promise anything. We don’t promie we share data and averages No one euth integrity promises anything in education. No colleges, private school, nobody because it takes the two for that to work, one of them is the child that might do the homework or not. That might have dyslexia that might have a stomachache in the day of the test. That data from the flyer is actually incorrect when it comes to my center. My average is more.

    Please don’t got disparaging small businesses and other people’s work assuming they are evil. We do beautiful work helping kids improving the kids chances of succeeding in college, getting into better schools, getting scholarship money and date are say graduate from school. I wake up every day and our in swear to make sure I have everything in place to help my kids do their best for the SAT and in college for you to question put work without ever having your kid peeping here it is questionable and irresponsible. Our satisfaction rate is 95% and we have over 40 review with 5 stars of Google and in the name ofy kids I can tell you this: With hundreds of kids we preped in the last 6 years I can count on one hand the number of students that did not go up. Rarely lack of efforts or learning disabilities didn’t play a part on it.
    We act with integrity and we do good work.We deliver one of the best results in.yjr market. Now feel free to delete this.
    But know your karma with catch up to you. I hope my catched up to me too… because I wake up every day to see how I can help.

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