About Our Founder: Brian McElroy

Brian R. McElroy - TutorBrian R. McElroy is the founder and president of McElroy Tutoring, Inc. He is a Harvard graduate (class of '02) and SAT perfect scorer with 18 years of experience as a private tutor and classroom teacher, specializing in SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT and ISEE preparation, as well as application essay editing and college admissions consulting. He is also an accomplished writer and author.

In 2002, he founded McElroy Tutoring, and has been working full-time as a test-prep tutor, tutor representative and admissions consultant ever since. His essay editing & college advising services were featured on the front page of the San Diego Union-Tribune's Family Section, and his private test-prep programs have been recognized as among the most exclusive (scholarships available) and effective in the nation.

In addition to his tutoring programs for high school students, Mr. McElroy has also provided GRE and GMAT preparation to aspiring graduate students since 2001, helping them to improve their scores by up to 33 points on the GRE and 250 points on the GMAT. He has personally scored in the highest percentile (99th percentile or equivalent) on both the GMAT and the GRE exams.

Although not classically trained in music, McElroy has been an avid musician (acoustic & electric guitar, bass, drums & percussion, keyboards, electronic music, DAWs, songwriting, recording arts) for over 20 years. In addition, he excelled in several undergraduate music courses at Harvard University, including Composition, Music Theory I and II, Chamber Music and Electro-Acoustic Composition.

Mr. McElroy resides in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego, and enjoys yoga, live music, computers, politics, bodysurfing, basketball and baseball (go Red Sox!), quality time with his family, and the great outdoors.  Private lessons with Brian (other than online lessons) are held at the McElroy Tutoring office on Garnet Avenue in PB.

View Brian McElroy's Tutor Profile.

Read Brian's Annual Letter to Students and Parents.

Purchase a Tutoring Package with Brian.


Upon his graduation from Harvard University in 2002, Brian McElroy returned to his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.  He soon went to work as an SAT Private Tutor and Classroom Instructor for the Princeton Review, a nationally franchised test-prep company.  Having worked as a volunteer SAT and ACT instructor in Boston inner-city schools during his 4 years at Harvard, he felt uniquely qualified for the job--he knew the test inside-out, he could relate to students of all ages, and he loved to teach.   Before long, Brian was the Princeton Review's most frequently requested SAT tutor in the Providence, RI area, sometimes working more than 60 hours in a week. 

However, there were glaring problems with the job that quickly became apparent to him.  Most of all, he was frustrated by the low quality of the Princeton Review's materials and training guides.  While the company did provide Brian and his SAT students with plenty of  Princeton workbooks and practice tests, their questions were often flawed, and their teaching methods suspect.   The company also promoted a very strict, "by-the-book" method of teaching the test that didn’t allow tutors enough flexibility to adjust to the needs of each individual student.  In fact,  the Princeton Review (along with many other private test-prep companies) consistently declined to use real SATs in the preparation process, despite the fact that Official exams were (and still are) widely available to the public.

Over time, Brian found that Princeton Review's  “one size fits all” method of instruction was less effective than a more nuanced and customized approach to the test, utilizing official practice tests and a wide source of preparation materials.  A truly great tutor shouldn't read one prep manual and treat it as gospel; he/she should read all of the available materials and make his/her own decisions as to what works and what doesn't.  And test-prep materials shouldn't be dumbed-down just to make it easier for the tutor, because then the student suffers.

So when Brian chose to quit his job at the Princeton Review in late 2002, he quickly established his own tutoring business, McElroy Tutoring.   Despite the initial challenges of starting his own business, he soon managed to find full-time employment as a private SAT/ACT instructor and College Consultant in the Providence area. 

After working successfully as an independent tutor in Rhode Island for almost a year, Brian decided to export his business model to the West Coast, eventually making San Diego, CA his primary residence in late 2003, where he became more serious about expanding his expertise to cover the GRE, GMAT and ISEE tests, as well as essay editing and college admissions consulting. 

By 2006, Brian had secured an office space on Garnet Avenue on Pacific Beach, and an interview with Brian was featured on the front Page of the San Diego Union-Tribune's Family section, The free publicity in San Diego's largest newspaper helped put McElroy Tutoring firmly on the West-Coast map, and in 2007 McElroy's San Diego headquarters expanded to include a reception area, private tutoring room, college consulting office, and 8-person classroom.   In the years since, his boutique educational business has continued to thrive, mostly through word-of-mouth, the wide reach of the internet, and the always improving capabilities of the free Skype and Google Drive software that allows him to tutor students from all over the world from the comfort of his home office.

Ten years later, McElroy Tutoring is still at the same location on Garnet Ave, but nearly 40% of Brian's students now meet with him via Skype.

Brian McElroy - Resume

Education:   B.A., Harvard University (class of '02). Cum laude degree in Government, with a citation in Spanish. Dean's list. Harvard college scholarship for academic distinction.

Test-Prep Expertise:  4 years (1998-2002) as a private tutor/classroom teacher for Get Ready, a Harvard-based, nonprofit SAT preparation program focused on inner-city youth in Boston (part-time while completing degree from Harvard college).  Private SAT tutor/classroom teacher for The Princeton Review, in Providence RI (2002).  Full-time private tutor since 2002, with over 15,000 hours of private tutoring and classroom experience.  Perfect 2400 (99.93%) on the May 2014 SAT.  Perfect 1600 on the October 2016 SAT.  35.25/36 on the April 2017 ACT (Perfect 36  superscore). 99th percentile or equivalent on the GRE (335, 169V/165Q)) and GMAT (770, 47Q/48V).

Subjects Taught: PSAT, SAT, PLAN, ACT, ISEE, SSAT, SHSAT, GRE, GMAT, College Consulting, Essay Editing, SAT Subject Tests (Writing, Math IC, Math IIC, Literature), Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, English, History, Spanish, Study Skills, Organizational Strategies.

Languages:  English Grammar Expert.  Proficient in Spanish.  6 semesters of Spanish study at Harvard, and 3 full summers spent living and working in San Sebastian, Spain.

Application Essay Editing & College Admissions Consulting:  Expert Essay Editor and College Admissions Strategist.  College application essay featured in a national publication--50 Successful Harvard Application Essays (published by the Harvard Crimson, 2nd edition).  Essay Editing & College consulting services featured on the front page of the San Diego Union-Tribune's Family Section.  Students have been admitted to nearly all of America’s Best Colleges, including every Ivy League University.

High School (1994-1998, Classical High School, Providence RI):  National Merit Scholar Finalist. Class President for two years.  Co-Editor-in-Chief of school newspaper. All-State selection in baseball. Lettered in three varsity sports (volleyball, basketball, baseball) and captained two. SAT combined score 2270 (710 Math/770 Critical Reading/790 Writing (at the time an SAT Subject test), all on first attempt--99.3% nationally).  Also 750 Math IIC, 790 Literature, 1540 PSAT (out of 1600 pts. total--99.6% nationally).  Admitted to several of the nation's top colleges, including Brown, Dartmouth, UNC/Chapel Hill, Duke, University of Virginia, Williams, and Harvard.  Inducted into Classical High School Athletic Hall of Fame, May 2008.

Other: McElroy is an avid guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer of electronic music. He also loves sports such as bodysurfing, hiking, bicycling and yoga.  He is currently devoting much of his free time to reading for pleasure, writing and recording new songs, studying music theory, learning to play drums & piano, teaching himself new computer skills, adding to his popular vocabulary mnemonics book, GRE Vocab Capacity, and staying informed about politics & environmental issues.  He also hopes to release a hit musical album, coach a Little-League baseball team, and to spend as much quality time as possible with his friends and family.

Student Testimonials for Brian McElroy

(Read more testimonials on my testimonials page.)

My students have had tremendous success in the past, especially with regard to college admission.  Here is a partial list of some of the colleges where my students have been accepted:

Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Amherst, Dartmouth, Cornell, UPenn, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Pomona, Middlebury, Williams, UCSB, USF, LMU, San Francisco State, Smith, Johns Hopkins, Emerson, McGill, USC, Wake Forest, Duke, William and Mary, Lewis and Clark, Vassar, United States Naval Academy, Lehigh, USD, UCSD, Pepperdine, Clark, Babson, Washington University, Davidson, Georgetown, NYU,  Fordham, U. of Virginia, James Madison, Tufts, Vanderbilt, Evergreen State, Boston College, Notre Dame, Boston University, St. Andrews, Bryant University, U. of Michigan, Northwestern, U. of Oregon, U. of Colorado Boulder, Santa Clara, Northeastern, UC Davis, UC Irvine, Purdue University, Claremont McKenna.  

I have had particularly remarkable results from my Francis Parker High School students.  For example, I worked with 6 members of the Parker class of 2006, and they went on to attend Stanford (1 student), UC Berkeley (2 students), Notre Dame (1 student), USC (1 student/Marshall Scholarship), and Yale (1 student). 

Over the last decade plus (1998-Present), my private tutoring and college consulting students have continued to find their way into top-notch colleges and earn various scholarships, both athletic and merit-based (many of which far exceed the cost of my tutoring and/or college consulting services).

Increasingly, the bulk of my business is coming from either students with elite (80+ percentile) scores who don't want to waste their time in a classroom setting, or dissatisfied former clients of nationally franchised test-prep companies who need a complete "re-boot" so they can be taught how to take this test by a true professional, not some college kid looking for extra cash who reads straight from the manual.  I don't use any manuals or guides when I teach, because  I don't need them--I am an test-prep expert.  Recently, for example, one of my private SAT students improved his actual scores by 240 points from his initial practice SAT in only 4 lessons, on the first try! This student also scored a perfect 800 on one of the 3 main sections. I also had a student who raised her ACT score from a 23 to a 30 (the equivalent of a 420-point SAT score improvement).  In addtion, I have helped countless ISEE and SSAT students gain entry into the private schools of their choice, and my adult students (GRE and GMAT) have improved their scores by as much as 450 points. 

Finally, for the 10th straight year,  McElroy Tutoring has at least one of its students admitted to an ultra-competitive Ivy-League school, and that the vast majority of my students have gained entry into one of their first choice colleges. Of course, my students deserve the lion's share of the credit for these stellar results. They did all the hard work--I just helped guide them along the way, and reassured them if they became a little bit panicked. After all, the college admission process is very stressful and unfair sometimes!

Below you will find testimonials from some of my former students, as well as a detailed list of score improvements from my classroom SAT courses.   Please note that I respect the privacy of my students, and that all testimonials are purely voluntary. 

Click here to view my students' score improvements on the New SAT.

Jenna S.

(Francis Parker High School, Class of '05 / James Madison University Honors Student)

Tutored in: SAT

Jenna writes : "As any High School Junior will tell you, the SAT feels like it’s the single most important test of their entire education. At the time I felt the test looming over me like a single moment that could possibly determine the rest of my life (at least where I ended up going to college, which may as well have been the rest of my life). There was so much hype and anxiety surrounding this monolith of a test it was really difficult to know where to begin. Should I start memorizing the dictionary now, ensuring that a single word didn’t escape me on the dreaded vocabulary section? Where were my middle school math books so I could start reviewing fractions? And those stacks of SAT prep books my mother bought sometimes suggested conflicting techniques for answering multiple-choice questions. To say the least, I was a little stressed out ~ okay, a lot stressed out! There were applications to be completed, homework to be done, and a life to be had. But then entered Brian into the eye of a hurricane that is the life of a college prep student. Brian was calm and collected with a direction and a purpose. Brian had cracked the unbreakable code of the SAT, so I was relieved to find out that I didn’t need to. He was fun to work with and always reassured me, “You can do it, Jenna!”, and I did."

 

Bedour H.

(La Jolla, CA)

Tutored in: Biology I & II

Bedour writes : "I studied Biology 1 and 2 with Brian. He made it very interesting, and my grades improved so much. Anyone that needs help with school should choose Brian. I have had so many tutors but he has been the best so far. I recommend him. "


Kishore C.

Tutored in: Application Essay Writing

(Kishore works as an engineer for the Texas Instruments Corp. in San Diego.)

Kishore writes : "I needed someone to read and give me quality feedback about my MBA application essays. Since Brian was the chief editor of a newspaper and his application essay featured in "50 Successful Harvard Application Essays", I figured he would be well-qualified to help me.

Brian and I went over two iterations of my essays. In total, Brian worked for about 4 hours at his home and 3 hours together with me on my essays. This saved time for the both of us. He gave me pointers about giving life to essays, mastering the subtleties of business grammar, transitioning smoothly between paragraphs, and presenting ideas and logic in an artistic way. I could see a marked difference between the quality of my essays before and after seeking Brian's help. In the end, I was admitted to the UCLA's Anderson School of Management, my first choice business school.

Brian is very easy-going, friendly, patient and down-to-earth. It was easy and fun to work with him. He not only discussed his recommended changes, but also taught me few important things about how to write effective essays. "Teach a man to fish and he would not be hungry for rest of his life" best sums up my experience with Brian."


Dan G.

(LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI / Assumption College) SAT score improvement: 200 points (on 1600 point test)

Dan's comments: "I could never say that I enjoyed any kind of preparation for the SAT test. I hate standardized tests and consider "test preparation" a form of torture. When my parents suggested one-on-one tutoring, I wanted to die. However, even as a "test-hater," I knew that I had to get my scores up or there was no chance that I would get into the schools I liked. Working with Brian was so much better than a group class.

First of all, he's a cool young person who doesn't like taking tests any more than I do. However, he does know how to take them and was great at teaching me about the "strategy" of test-taking. He made it seem almost like a game where the odds were in my favor."


Heather A.

(University of Massachusetts)

Tutored in: SAT II, Math IIC

Heather writes : "I started tutoring sessions with Brian because my college (University of Massachusetts) has a special program where you can earn a scholarship if you score high enough on the SAT II Math IIC. I tried to reach the qualifying score on my own, but couldn't quite get there.

Even though I was only able to schedule a few lessons with Brian, my SAT II Math IIC score improved by 40 points, enough to earn me a full tuition scholarship. Now, all I have to pay for is room and board, and I'm saving so much money.

Brian helped me learn how to attack the test, how to quickly analyze each question, and just gave me really important test-taking strategies and tips. I enjoyed each tutoring experience and wish that I had been tutored by him for the regular SATs because I know that he would have definitely helped me to improve my scores!! : ) Thanks Brian."


Ben Simon

(Northfield Mt. Hermon HS / Tufts University)

SAT score improvement: 160 points. (On 1600 point test.)

Ben writes : "When I started doing SAT prep work on my own, everything seemed so confusing to me and I was even intimidated by how hard it all seemed. Brian was really helpful. He made the concepts used on the tests very understandable. He had a knack of breaking things down so I understood them better. And it worked cause my score went up 160 points thanks to him (from 1160 to 1320)."


Liana G.

SAT score improvement: 160 points. (On 1600 point test.) Also tutored in: Chemistry, Spanish

Liana's parents write: "With Brian's help Liana was able to enter into the SAT test with much less anxiety and much more confidence, knowledge, and awareness of how to take the SAT. Brian also tutored Liana in Chemistry and Spanish. He helped her to significantly raise her grades in both classes, and to "translate" the lessons of a particularly difficult Chemistry teacher."

"So, this is how the decisions broke down: he was accepted by Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell, Williams, Pomona, Emory, Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, UCSB, UCD, and UCI. Not a bad line-up! Let us thank you much for your help and good advice on this journey."
12th grade parent, La Jolla High School

"After spending 10 hours under Brian's instruction, my quantitative score increased from 360 to 610. Brian's easy-going demeanor and skilled guidance provided a clear insight into the arithmetic required coupled with the test logic employed. His former relationships with test-prep companies proved invaluable as we proceeded through the twists and turns of the GRE. Brian is an articulate gentleman, showing both maturity and responsibility while maintaining an approachable mien. He explains in down-to-Earth terms what the operation really requires, then translates that task into understandable terms. Brian gives you the tools to resolve the complexity of the problem into basic questions"
Lon McPhail, GRE Student, US Military Member, Point Loma, CA

"Brian makes it seem so easy...sometimes I just wish he could take the test for me! But on my last SAT, if I got too stuck on a problem, I would try thinking what Brian would say, and it worked. +230 points thanks Brian!!! "
12th grade student, Bishops High School

"Are you ready for this? (He) got a 2370! We are in complete shock. (He) really connected with you Brian...thank you so much for such a job well done. We will be recommending you to our friends."
11th grade parent, Francis Parker High School

"Hi Brian, Happy holidays. I hope (student) contacted you about his stellar SAT score of 2280- we were all so happy! Many thanks for all that you did to support and mentor him with the test process."
11th grade parent, Francis Parker High School

"I was a personal student of Brian McElroy’s in the summer of 2007, and each testing technique and piece of pedagogy we covered in those sessions has followed me through university and leaked significantly into my own teaching. Brian guided me through a PSAT 230, an SAT 2210, and 800’s in my SAT 2 subject tests, and I am now attending the University of Chicago on an academic scholarship."
Tyler Ross, University of Chicago Class of 2012

"Hi Brian, I'm writing to let you know that (student) got a 31 on her ACT! We are all so proud of her. From a 24 to a 31...what an amazing improvement! We are all very happy here at the house today and I just want to thank you again for your hard work on (student's) behalf. Your services were not cheap, but we consider it money well spent! "
11th grade parent, Torrey Pines High School

More Student Improvements / Testimonials

PLEASE NOTE:  ALL SAT IMPROVEMENTS NOTED BELOW ARE FROM THE ORIGINAL,  2-SECTION SAT (1600 PTS TOTAL)

1) Bobby G. (Barrington HS, Barrington RI / Purdue University) SAT score improvement: 200 points. Also tutored in: Math, Chemistry, College Applications. Now attending Perdue University (class of '08) on a full scholarship.

2) Ben S. (Wheeler HS, Providence RI / Brown University) SAT score improvement: 100 points. Also tutored in: SAT II Writing and Math IIC. Received perfect 800s on both tests. Now attending Brown University, class of '08.

3) James M. (Parker HS, San Diego CA) SAT score improvement: 170 points.

4) Jenna S. (Parker HS, San Diego CA) SAT score improvement: 150 points.

5) Austin A. (Parker HS, San Diego CA) SAT score improvement: 130 points.

6) Tessa F. (Parker HS, San Diego CA) SAT score improvement: 150 points.

7) Joey E. (Classical HS, Providence RI) SAT score improvement: 190 points.

8) Rob A. (Bishop Hendricken HS, Warwick RI) SAT score improvement: 210 points.

9) Kelli H. (San Diego, CA) GRE math score improvement: 280 points.

(Kelli Hurley works for the San Diego public libraries, specializing in adult literacy.)

Kelli writes: "Before I started tutoring sessions with Brian, my Quantitative score was 220. When I initially talked to Brian I was impressed by his professional but approachable demeanor. We began our tutoring sessions at the Pacific Beach Library and before long I was actually beginning to understand the GRE questions. Brian has a knack for explaining the rationale behind the answer in a way that makes it easy to understand and hard to forget. When it came time to take the test, I found myself remembering the tricks and tips that Brian had taught me. In the end I increased my score to a 500. I am very grateful to Brian for his tremendous patience and very apparent expertise in teaching. I would not and have not hesitated to recommend Brian to anyone."

10) Lon M. (San Diego, CA) GRE math score improvement: 250 points.

(Lon McPhail, a native of Attleboro, Massachusetts, works for the U.S. military in Point Loma.)

Lon writes: "After spending 10 hours under Brian's instruction, my quantitative score increased from 360 to 610. Brian's easy-going demeanor and skilled guidance provided a clear insight into the arithmetic required coupled with the test logic employed. His former relationships with test-prep companies proved invaluable as we proceeded through the twists and turns of the GRE.

"Brian is an articulate gentleman, showing both maturity and responsibility while maintaining an approachable mien. He explains in down-to-Earth terms what the operation really requires, then translates that task into understandable terms. Brian gives you the tools to resolve the complexity of the problem into basic questions."

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