Lynbrook High School junior Zoe Daniels recently emailed her SAT tutor at midnight, seeking help on how to open a practice exam so she could work on it.
"I want to apply to Ivy League colleges," said Daniels, 16, of East Rockaway. "There's a lot of pressure that comes with applying to those schools and the SAT is the last link before everything comes together for my application."
Her tutor, Amy Fortsch, emailed her right back. Though a little surprised that Daniels would be awake at that hour and studying for an SAT test that she won't be taking until January, she understood the underlying reason why.
"The SAT is like running a marathon," said Fortsch, 25, of Levittown. "There is a strategy to taking it and you have to really prepare for it."
She has worked as a private tutor for six years, and considers herself not just a teacher but a coach as well, soothing the nerves of students as she hones their skills in test problems such as advanced algebra.
Daniels and her twin brother, Zach, began studying with the tutor in August. He is preparing for another college entrance test, the ACT, but figures it carries less weight for his goals. He plans a musical career playing the vibraphone, and audition performances count for a lot.
Isaacson, of Plainview, started studying when she was in the 10th grade and averages more than three hours a week preparing for the test, and says it has built her confidence.
Zoe Daniels had no use for students who "take the easy way out," such as the six Great Neck North students arrested last week for allegedly hiring a college student to take the SAT test for them.
Her mother, Lisa Daniels, agreed.
"I think cheating is a character flaw," she said.
"What those kids are doing is victimizing our children who adequately prepare and work hard to get good grades."