About Lisa Kurstin

Lisa Kurstin is a trained botanist and science educator, who brings two decades of experience as a classroom teacher and senior level administrator in California independent schools. Lisa’s administrative experience includes having served as a Director of Studies and Admissions Director in independent schools, as well as Education Programs Manager at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, California. Currently, Lisa is devoting time to test prep and college counseling.

Keeping Your Test Skills on the Front Burner

August 4th, 2016|

In the classic movie Bull Durham, Kevin Costner walks along dark street at night and stops underneath a streetlight.  A gift wrap tube is sticking out of the nearby garbage can.  Costner picks up the tube and practices his swing while finding his reflection in a window.  This scene brilliantly captures what every master-of-their-craft knows [...]

Testing Your Best: It’s not as simple as knowing what you learned in class

July 12th, 2016|

"My child is a great student.  He works hard and earns excellent grades.  He just doesn't test well."   How many of us have made that same observation about our own child?  As teachers and test-prep tutors, this phenomenon of good students struggling at test time seems to be more the norm than the exception.   What [...]

3 Steps to Successful Test Prep

June 7th, 2016|

While most of us are focused on enjoying our summer vacation, independent school parents are thinking about getting their child ready for the independent school entrance exams ISEE and SSAT.   In our experience as independent school educators, we’ve come up with a test preparation plan that will work, without piling on unnecessary homework, wasting [...]

Big Changes for the ISEE Ahead

May 4th, 2016|

At ETP, we are pleased to share with you some exciting changes to the ISEE testing process.  We say exciting, because we believe that these changes will make things much better for students. In August 2016, ERB will announce a new option – multiple testing.   With this change, all students will be allowed to test three times during a single admissions cycle.   Each test may be taken once during a four-month testing window.  The windows are: Fall (August – November) Winter (December – March) Spring/Summer (April – July) So what does this mean for your placement strategy? […]

Test Prep Tip – Know Your Proportions

February 1st, 2016|

Test makers love proportions. We work with standardized tests for public schools, ISEE, SSAT, ACT, SAT, SAT subjects, and more. In every case, the test makers are very interested in proportions.   A few years back we were working with a student on her standardized math test for public school. The test didn’t count as part [...]

It’s a New Year and the Perfect Time to Prepare

January 2nd, 2016|

If you had to give a piano performance a year from now, would you schedule all of your rehearsal time for the week before the show? Neither would we.   If you practiced even ten minutes a day on your piano for the whole year, you’d give a better performance than if you played 20 [...]

Should you take the new SAT?

December 5th, 2015|

Should you take the ACT or the new SAT? We used to base this question on the science section: any of our students who did well on that were advised to take the ACT. We found it more straightforward, less tricky. However, anyone who just wasn’t going to do well in science was better off [...]

Changes to the SAT

September 28th, 2015|

There has been a lot written about the new SAT. But we didn’t want to take anyone’s word for anything, and waited until we could see sample tests before we gave our thoughts on it. Here’s what we found: First, the new model looks much more like the ACT. Where the old test had three [...]

Testing, Ireland, and Brains on Low Oxygen

September 21st, 2015|

Having just spent ten days road tripping the beautiful country of Ireland, we learned first hand just how informative it is to break the habits we've learned driving in the U.S..  The first challenge is adjusting to a driver's seat on the right side of the car.  The next is to drive on the left [...]