Student, Parent & Client Testimonials

EDIT, April 2022: This page hasn't been updated in the last 9-10 years.  For more recent, updated student and parent testimonials, please check out McElroy Tutoring's San Diego Yelp listing, Colorado Springs Yelp listing, and San Diego Google my Business page, where I now have a total of 63 5-Star reviews.

On Yelp, please also make sure to read the "not currently recommended" reviews linked on the bottom of the page.

"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

"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

"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

"Hi Brian, hope you are doing well. I just wanted to update you on my college decisions. I just accepted admission to University of Washington, but I received a $70,000 scholarship to University of Arizona (Honors), Willamette University, and Seattle Pacific University. Thanks so much for all your help (and I'm sure you'll be hearing from my brother this summer)."
-12th Grade Student, Skype Tutoring

"(Student's) ACT score just came in: 32!!! We are dancing around our house, singing about your brilliance as a tutor! Thank you!!"
-12th grade parent, Santana High School

"Hey Brian! Just want to share the good news! (Student) was awarded a $27,000 yearly merit scholarship, for a total of $108,000! :) Woohoo! Thank you for helping her prepare for the ACT. :)"
-Parent, High Tech High Student

"When the score came out, I was in shock. I scored the highest I've ever scored on the Quant section! Anyway, I wrote a Yelp review this morning and it looks to me like it was posted. Thanks again Brian! I wish you all the best in the future!"
-GMAT Prep Student

"Hi Brian! Took it this Morning. Got a 147 verbal and a 152 math(we didn't see that coming lol) I went all out on the essays bc the school might look at them. Then had a math and then a verbal (bombed the first brain shutdown),took a break, Came back and took my next math and did good then took the next verbal. TOTALLY forgot about their little experiment and I had to take another math section so rallied there lol i guess im giving you the play by play. Verbal was low but that test takes serious endurance and more than any factual knowledge my biggest weakness has always been the capacity to keep my attention during standardized tests an I know the preparation I have to thank for that not being an issue. The grad school "recommends" a 294 so I'm feeling very grateful with a 299. Thank you for all of your help! I will definitely bring the math flash cards back next week! Have a great weekend!"
-GRE Prep Student

"Hi Brian! Just wanted to let you know that I got my ACT score...a 32! Thank you so much. "
-12th grader, High Tech High

"I worked with Brian last fall as I was studying for the GRE to apply to a mid career Master's degree program at Harvard. I am 52 years old and was pretty intimidated by having to take a graduate standardized test and even "re-learn" (at best!) my high school math from a long time ago, as well as learn the best ways to take the test and think about it in this new computerized era. Brian was terrific, he quickly and expertly figured out what I needed to do and focus on, and what I didn't, to make my limited time studying as effective as possible. And he was a great tutor, explained things expertly without being complicated and was very friendly and supportive. He definitely helped me improve what would have been my score otherwise and do well on the parts I needed to. And I just was notified I got accepted to the program I was applying for, so it must have helped. I strongly recommend Brian to anyone, young or old, who needs to focus on this."
-Charles Seigel

"I got into UCSD Business School!  Couldn't have done it without you.  Thanks Brian :) "
Student, University of San Diego

"Brian helped me edit/revise my personal statement for graduate school by asking probing and clarifying questions at the right places to force me to write succinctly and truthfully. His advice and instruction addressed proper language form & mechanics, as well as the process of achieving clear meaning."
-Graduate Student, Columbia University
"Hey Brian! Just want to share the good news! (Student) was awarded a $27,000 yearly merit scholarship, for a total of $108,000! :) Woohoo! Thank you for helping her prepare for the ACT."
 -Parent, High Tech High Student
"Just a note of gratitude for all your help with (student) and the ACT!  I am so happy for the way (he) is feeling!"
-Parent, Coronado High School

"With Brian's help and guidance, I managed to get a 720 (a 150 point improvement from the first practice test I took) on the GMAT. I worked with him twice a week, for 1.5 months while maintaining a full-time job, having never even looked over any GMAT material -- basically, starting from scratch. Acknowledging my aggressive timeline and understanding that I was quite literally starting from a zero base, Brian provided me with both the foundations required to study for the test and the tactics/nuances of sitting the exam itself (the GMAT is a quirky standardized test), beginning by drilling the fundamentals but switching gears, spending less time discussing each question in depth and focussing more on "real-time" test scenarios as the test approached. His clear, logical way of explaining question types and techniques really helped illuminate the test, and particularly helped me on the quantitative side. By my test date, I really felt as if the work with Brian "clicked" and I understood what the GMAT was all about. Brian also provided a wealth of resources in terms of questions and explanations that I was able to leverage while studying on my own. All said, Brian's guidance was probably the biggest factor in my achieving the score I did."
-GMAT Student, Los Angeles, CA

"Brian is second to none! I tried Kaplan for the GRE, but only with Brian's help did I obtain the score I was looking for. He was patient, intelligent, and understanding. With his help, my score improved over 300 points!"
-GRE Student, Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA
"When the score came out, I was in shock. I scored the highest I've ever scored on the Quant section! Anyway, I wrote a Yelp review this morning and it looks to me like it was posted. Thanks again Brian! I wish you all the best in the future!"
 -GMAT Prep Student, Hillcrest, San Diego, CA

"Thank you, thank you, thank you! Ben's SAT score improved from a 1900 to a 2200 -- including a perfect score on math! We're lucky we found you, and we'll make sure to pass the word on to all of Ben's friends."
-Parent of 11th-Grade Student, Beverly Hills High School (via Skype)

"Dear Mr. McElroy, 
I'd like to fill you in on how the college process went for me, as well as thank you for all your help. I was accepted to University of Michigan, University of California Los Angeles, University of California Santa Barbara, Emory University, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Hamilton College, New York University, and University of Southern California. I will most likely attend Hamilton College; I'll be visiting next week to make my final decision. Again, thank you for all of your help! Hope all is well.
-12th grade student, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

"Dear Mr. McElroy, I just wanted to thank you again for all your help! Berkeley was always Sarah's top choice, and because of your help, she'll be going there in the fall. Thank you!"
-Parent of 11th-Grade Student, Beverly Hills High School (via Skype)

"Hi Brian.  I just wanted to let you know that I took the GMAT on Saturday and scored a 740!"
-GMAT Student, La Jolla, CA

"After a month in the Princeton Review GRE prep course, I was still scoring slightly below average and I was consistently falling behind other students in my class. The teacher in my course told me point blank that my chances for improving significantly were very slim. I knew I needed to score well on the GRE to get into the school of my choice, so I sought the help of additional tutors.  Brian was the best tutor I encountered in months of studying for the GRE and attending various classes. He has the singular ability to explain the fundamentals of the concepts he is teaching. He can walk you through a problem inside out and help you develop your own approach. He also has patience and a kind of calm charisma that can settle the most agitated of nerves. He evokes a "You can do it!" attitude, which is so necessary when taking such an important test. If you are looking for an amazing tutor, you don't have to look much further than Brian."
-GRE student, Brazil (via Skype)

"Hey Brian, I got a 1760 =) up 230 points!"
-11th grade student, LaSalle High School, Providence RI

“Bill and I want to thank you for the incredible gift that your tutoring has been to Liam. Because of your diligence, flexibility and ability to really get to know Liam’s strengths, weaknesses and capabilities, Algebra is no longer a problem area for him. He is confident because of the tools you gave him week after week, and because even when he wanted to give up, you would not let him.”
-Parents of a Freshman at Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego CA

"I ended up with an A+ in both Chemistry and Algebra 2. I got an A+ on both final exams and an A+ average in both classes. Thank you so much for your help. I would never have done it without you! (She earned special recognition, a "Pen", in both classes this year and will use that for college applications.)"
-Junior at Francis Parker High School

"I just wanted to thank you for your help with SAT Prep. I made an 800 on the math section! I'm so excited. I definitely used lots of your tricks on the test, and I left it feeling very confident. Thanks so much again!" "
-High School Junior

"We just wanted to thank you again for your time and effort this summer working with Mary. You not only helped and encouraged her, but also served as a most positive role model.”
-10th grade parent

"Brian tutored my daughter in preparation for the SAT, with great success. Brian was very patient and thorough in his tutoring, and very adaptive—simplifying concepts and problems in different ways so that my daughter truly ‘got it’. He gave my daughter valuable study skills and tips to help her do well on the SAT. It was a very positive experience and I highly recommend Brian to anyone, whether you have a gifted student or one that just needs some extra help.”
-12th grade parent

"In our sessions Brian presented tips and pointers that really helped me to better understand the covered material. He encouraged me to work between our sessions and inspired me to want to do well. Not only was Briana a great tutor, but he also was funny and made our sessions light and comfortable. Most importantly, I still integrate into my school work many of the techniques he taught me.”
-High School Junior
"Brian is great. He really takes the time to make sure I understand each and every problem. "
-11th grade student, High Tech High

"Brian is second to none.  He is perfectly suited for my high school sophomore daughter in terms of skill, attitude, temperament and teaching skills.  Plus my daughter (although she may not admit this!) actually looks forward to her sessions with Brian. "
-10th grade parent

"I cannot thank you enough for all of your help! I think that my geometry quiz went pretty well, and chemistry is going soooo much better. I even did a problem on the board!"
-11th grade student

"I thank you and your company for providing such great service to my son and family..."
-6th grade parent 

"The Math section was hard, but after working with you I was able to reason through each problem and I did great!  Plus one of the vocab words we talked about yesterday was on the test!" 
-11th grade student

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."


More Student Improvements / Testimonials -- Brian McElroy



1) Bobby G. (Barrington HS, Barrington RI / Purdue University) SAT score improvement: 200 points. Also tutored in: Math, Chemistry, College Applications. Now attending Purdue 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.)

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