#083 Life Preparation through the SAT/ACT with Barak Moore Transcript


Lisa Marker Robbins  00:54

Well, my guest today is known for helping students get excellent ACTN SATs scores for college admissions and scholarships. He views his role as much more than that. Barak your field, the work he is doing is actually preparing students for life. He shared with us how the work your teen is doing to prepare for college admissions and their future career will actually benefit them in more ways than you ever imagined. I’m Lisa marker Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation. For Ron Moore, welcome.


Barak Moore  01:39

Thank you, Lisa. And thank you for such an interesting intro. I was really nice.


Lisa Marker Robbins  01:43

Well, you’re way more interesting than that intro, you know, that is the heart of what we want to talk about today is really test preparation. And actually, I would argue a lot of the things that students are doing in this, let’s just say this college bound journey, are preparing them for the bigger scope of life. And I think that families get very myopic on this idea of Oh, it’s just test prep, or like the work that they’re doing in my college major and career courses. Oh, just to identify the major in the career. And you and I got into a conversation were together in Dallas. So we’re, we’re both very aligned. And like, No, this is a way bigger picture. But before we jump there, let’s talk about some of the more interesting facts of Baroque. So you are a father of how many?


Barak Moore  02:30

Oh, gosh, you had to start there.


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:33

Hi, dad.


Barak Moore  02:34

So I, a grandfather of one and a father of eight. Amazing. And so he could have been more his colleagues though, then then children just because I’m a bit, I’m a bit immature when it comes. Which, which is probably why I love spending time around teenagers. Because I I find I find them endlessly fascinating. There’s, I think it was it was neat shit and said that you become a mature adult when you’ve regained the wonder of childhood. And I’m all about the wonder of child that I don’t even know if I’m up to this age of adulthood. But yes, I love being around them. And people can be weird looks if I’m ever in the Chucky Cheese ball pit by myself. So this way, I bring them along, and I get to have a wonderful time, and that


Lisa Marker Robbins  03:19

you can still have fun. And I would say knowing you and you know even hearing that philosophy, it really probably resonates in the building know like and trust and that deep relationship with the students you’re serving through test prep, as well.


Barak Moore  03:35

I think I had the greatest job in the world. And I haven’t fully figured out why. But I would love being involved in people’s stories. And when you say their life or like journey, I think of more visit as an adventure. We’re preparing students for an adventure and there’s so much cynicism out there. It really bothers me how much negative messaging young people get. One of the things that I do is just positive with people you posted on. So you posted about how you see yourself as a natural teacher. But I think that’s the one of the greatest things a person will be is, is a teacher, my mother was a teacher, I emulate her. And a lot of what you and I both do is is is ideally try to we love being part of people’s stories. We love being being able to affect people in a wonderful way. And if you can be the kind of person people just enjoy being around, young people enjoy being around, you can remove some of the frustration, you can help them move from point A to point B, young people have so much growth mindset when it’s laid out in front of them in a really beautiful way. They they they they get so cheated and and so cynical, and people are telling them oh this test is bad. Colleges admissions is bad. You have to write too many essays. They’re requiring too much of you. You should you should you should be doing this and that differently, but how about just look at it differently. in the adult world is laying out really wonderful things for me. I have great guides in my life, I have great mentors, the people in school want the best for me. And let’s look at this, to the extent that we can. What’s great about this? What’s really nice about this in so many aspects of our education, and in college admissions,


Lisa Marker Robbins  05:19

I love that, you know, you said, we get the we get to work with these students, I always say is a privilege. Because when the work that I do as a college major career coach, are you with test prep, or there are many other roles of adults that are walking this journey with these students? It’s an invitation en and I counted a privilege to be invited in because it’s, it is an amazing adventure and journey. So how did you get started, and test prep?


Barak Moore  05:52

It was the weirdest thing in the world. I grew up in our in literally the worst neighborhood in New York City, a place in Brooklyn, called East New York that I hope you’ve never heard of.


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:02

I have not. It


Barak Moore  06:05

was extremely bad. And I can tell you stories that will shock you, I went to public schools there my whole life. And then, and then one day, my oldest sister went to Princeton University. My oldest brother went there, my next brother, and, and my oldest sister met a guy who was founding a company called the Princeton Review. And I talked to him being poor, like, seriously poor. I didn’t have any restraints when it came to money. So I talked to him and I said, Why don’t you give me your course for free. And I’ll get you some students from Stuyvesant High School, which is where I went it’s a it’s a, an open loop. A selective High School in New York is made people no public school, obviously. And he said, Sure, I got him three students. And when they talked about the history of the Princeton Review, they talked about seven students in the initial kind of thing. I was one, three were my friends, and three were people he didn’t get. But he helped me in about seven or eight sessions literally changed my life. And I was so stunned and amazed every moment that I spent with him, I would not be surprised if he was not the best teacher of our generation. Because it was just extraordinary, changed my life got my scores to go way, way up. But it was a factor in me going to Princeton also was worth the force of for the initial horrible into Princeton. And it literally changed my life. I then I was 13 years old. At the time, I worked for him as the first computer programmer at Princeton Review, I worked and when I was 13 years old, I recruited students for him, he gave me $45, a student from Stuyvesant High School, or within a year, we had 200 ft 800 students in the graduating class, taking the Princeton Review.


Lisa Marker Robbins  07:50

Amazing Cuz nobody ever sets out as a 16, or 17 year old for, there’s not a college major for I want to be a test prep provider. Their devotee usually says I had Mike Bergen on the podcast one time in talking about unusual career path. And nobody says, oh, I want to be a test prep provider. So it’s one of those more unusual paths for everybody. But yet, I think it goes back to what you referenced earlier, at the heart of it is people who are teachers. And we have to think about teaching as a career as kind of a outside the box teacher. It’s not the traditional classroom, but it’s still teaching.


Barak Moore  08:33

Well, I think everybody should be a teacher, if you’re a parent, you’re a teacher, if you’re an adult in the world, you’re a teacher, you’re a guide, you’re whatever, wherever you are, you’re a teacher, we just get the amazing blessing of being able to do it full time. And I think that my story, even though it’s kind of unique, it’s everybody’s story is unique. Everybody’s Life is an adventure. Everything is serendipity. And that’s what we’re here to do is to prepare people for the adventure of life. I ended up after that. I called him every six months or so asking him if he’d let me be a teacher. And I started, I started, you know, in the Princeton Review System, literally when I was 13 years old. It was a little ridiculous. But I ended up start, I ended up starting at Princeton when I was 15. And one time I called them when I was when I was 16. And he put me on hold. He fired somebody right there on the spot. And he said, You’re starting tomorrow as a 16 year old teacher last year olds in the classroom. And I was off to the races and then I I taught for a while Princeton Review. I used to travel from Princeton University to New York City. Every weekend, I ended up helping found the Princeton Review in Princeton itself. I found the bad side of the course and later on ran. The company got the Princeton Review of New Jersey independent company at when I had to take time off from school in order to focus on that


Lisa Marker Robbins  10:00

amazing I love I love hearing people’s story that you know, I recently had shoulder surgery, and I have pelted everyone from the intake person at the hospital, to the nurses that prep me to the anesthesiologist to hear their career and life stories all the way up to my physical therapist. I and people love to talk about their journeys, and I think it benefits others to hear our journeys, for sure. I love learning those things. So you’re known for getting great AC T and sa t results. But well, I shouldn’t say but. And what parents often don’t think about is all of the other amazing benefits that come along with test prep, intentional work on this college bound journey. So let’s talk about what are some of those gains that you can identify? Because right now all they’re thinking is Oh, better scores, opens doors to a college to scholarships. But let’s open some more doors. What are some of the other doors were opening?


Barak Moore  11:06

Yes. So that’s all true. And I’ve had this 30 year obsession with how do you do good through test prep, because I actually left the business, because one of our early students was one of America’s most famous murderers. He came through our course.


Lisa Marker Robbins  11:26

Oh, can’t see my face. But I just I just went wow,


Barak Moore  11:30

yeah, we were there. We had in our, in our opening course, at the Princeton Review in Princeton, New Jersey. We had Lyle Menendez, who after he took our course, when he went up about 300 points, he got himself into Princeton University as a result. And he took a shotgun and he killed his parents together with his brother. And then any went on, it was a famous story, because one of the most murders in American history, because he then went on a shopping spree and bought up a lot of things with the insurance money, I’ll be later was discovered. But I had some kind of guilt that I had something to do with this. And it turns out, and in fact that I left the world of test prep. And I thought, well, here, what I’m doing is I kind of internalized all the negative messages about test prep, which is, Oh, you guys are just manipulating the system getting people in don’t deserve it. You’re getting all these murderers to get into Princeton. And they didn’t say that. But I kind of internalized that and left the business. And I ended up teaching for IBM all over the world. I had a career in computers. And later on, I just kept coming back to teaching. And an every day that I had that I was teaching. For me, it was like vacation. And I ended up people used to ask me to teach for them. I started tutoring them in and also for SATs. And I realized one day, you know what, I actually had nothing to do with wild Menendez, we had three teachers, one of them taught him I had nothing whatsoever to do with him. And maybe if I did, maybe he could have been a little bit better in and I thought a kick started coming back to it. And I thought, how I was obsessed with how do you make people better people through this process. And it turns out, it’s everywhere. And, and and what I do, at its essence, I have a word that I use, I doubt there’s a single person on this earth, who does what I do, which is to make people ingenious, through the test, meaning it’s so wonderful, but this is very real, this is very grounded. And if you do a great job, the number goes up. And if you don’t, that number does not is a huge, huge, it’s a huge responsibility, okay, because you cannot fake it, if you didn’t teach your students, their their number is not going to go up. And so it’s very real, it’s very grounded. But in order to get them through this test, which requires creativity, out of the box thinking, innovation, through questions, these are all puzzles and brain teasers which young people love. I’m teaching them to become ingenious, and more and more ingenious to do that. And it captures their attention. They love this. And they realize that, wow, I have this thing in front of me this journey. And I don’t even understand what it’s going to be because I’m not at the level where I can appreciate that. But over time, I think develop and life can be a wonderful, wonderful adventure and surprise that I really enjoy


Lisa Marker Robbins  14:26

every question on that. So that like you said that pressure of I helping a student raise their scores or not. There’s a pressure there. And I also know as a teacher, that you Barak or any test prep professional maybe could do everything right but sometimes things go wrong on test day like my own daughter had that all of her prep for the state AC T she’s a college senior now but this is back when she was in high school. It came to be the day of her state, we live in Ohio State AC t test it, she got the flu 102 degree temperature all the while. It was like, Oh my gosh, uh, you know, me of all people, it’s like I for a living and helping students on their college boundary, and then this, you know, sidelines my daughter. So things happen. It’s not always about the prep. So what I would ask you is, if things do go off the rails, unplanned things do happen. I think one of the great things to focus on is it wasn’t just about the score, it’s about the other skills, and life skills that we’re developing, they’re still a very positive impact, even if that number doesn’t go up. So what you’ve got to have really a, an abundance mindset, a positive mindset, you’ve got to look for the gift, because the number doesn’t always do exactly what you want it to do you and I know from one test administration to the other AC T, and SCT, wouldn’t say this. But some tests are harder than other tests, even though they’re not designed to be there, you know, they’re pretty stable, but there can be some fluctuations. So what would you say to students like, whether the number goes up or not, here’s some very real skills that you just gained through the journey of test prep.


Barak Moore  16:27

So first of all, I, I come from a sports background, I grew up as a swimmer, who literally I remember, the first time I was in a foreign under competition in in in Wilmington, Delaware, because finally I got to compete with kids my age. And it took me like a year or so to get to that, because I was always going to seven or eight and older. But I take a sports mentality, which is there and serious. And, you know, we’re talking about all the nice things, but sports is serious. And I might students are there to win, they’re there to perform. They’re there to compete. And we don’t put thoughts in our mind about Yeah, mate, you’re not going to go that’s the art of sports. Okay? Yes, you do train to the Olympics. And sometimes you can break to break a bone or whatever, and things do happen. But that’s very, very rare. And, and, and my students are there to achieve and they do achieve it. That’s, that’s, that’s Singapore. But the main thing is your question in terms of what are the additional benefits, this is the first time that a young person confronts a serious life challenge, okay, it is probably the first time and one could lean into that. And, and, and approach it with, wow, I’m gonna put some effort in here, I’m going to, I’m going to get better, I’m going to find somebody who can help me prepare, I’m going to not shy away from I’m not going to withdraw, and so much of young people’s lives now. So which people’s lives in general, it used to be addiction was alcohol and drugs, and gambling. But now, every single young person has this addictive device in their hands 24 hours a day. So if you are withdrawing, there’s so many ways to withdraw, and so many ways to, to escape. Escapism is the killer of an adventure in life, and so many people are escaping. But if they can take a productive attitude, if they can lean into it, they can work hard if they could see little results, and then put in more effort to get bigger results. It’s the greatest life lesson there is, is to lean in approach, every challenge that you you know, you can have you can have children who have some kind of in some kind of congenital disease, or issue that you have to face for the next 50 years. Are you going to withdraw? Are you going to fight? Are you going to break up your relationship, which some people do when they have challenges like that? Or you can say, Okay, we didn’t want this. But now let’s approach it in a constructive way, in a productive way. People who have constructive approaches to life’s stresses have wonderful lives, and they make wonderful lemonade lemons to get it handed. And in fact, if you want to get a little bit philosophical, they see to all of the lemons that were handed to them were really gifts in order to get them to achieve wonderful lives.


Lisa Marker Robbins  19:25

I always ask I do executive business coaching as well. And one of my favorite questions to ask is in the face of something going wrong, or what does this make possible? Right. And that’s looking for the gift. You know, I approached this injury that I had in the shoulder surgery where I literally cannot use my dominant arm hardly I can’t even lift it beyond my waist right now. As Okay, worse again, like it could really sideline you if you don’t have that, you know, as you’re talking through This? Well, first of all, it reminds me of a previous episode that we had with Dr. Ben Bernstein who you and I both heard speak at a conference. And he talks about that, like life’s gonna happen, hard things are gonna happen, and some teenagers get those sooner. And if, if you don’t get it during your high school years, it’s going to happen sometime in life. So we have to learn to look for the gift and learn how to navigate the stress. But as you’re talking through, like, the sports analogy that you have, I started to think of like, gosh, these students are learning how to manage their time better. You know, I recently talked about putting aside our wants and wishes for our needs, and meeting deadlines at time. So I think like time management is going to be better. Yes. Mindset is going to be better, better organized. The really practical pieces of this


Barak Moore  20:57

Yes. And we talked so much about self esteem, but self esteem is is not an easy thing. And, and young people develop self esteem through genuine accomplishment. And, and and there’s kind of there’s kind of two broad ways that people tend to look at these tests. One is, oh, it’s so stressful. Why are you putting so much pressure, and there’s so many articles about the pressure that young people are under, under stress that they’re under, and now there is they’re all breaking and they have mental health and mental health issues. But there’s another way to look at this, that young people love a genuine interventional challenge. They love things that are real, and number is a real thing. And when they get that number to go up through their own efforts, that shit that resulted in more ingenuity in their life, they walk taller, they’re more confident. They, they, they they just very basic things, will you grow up to an adult, ask or helping navigate the things by yourself is letting young people accomplish little things by themselves through their own initiative leads to wonderful self esteem by letting them take out big challenge. And they know when they put in a real effort and they put in your effort, and they got a huge result. That gives them real nice Running Start for every adversity they will face.


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:18

I love it. Well, thank you for giving us a different way of thinking about what seemed very isolated, just down to a score that yes, the score is important. But this is a bigger life journey. I’m so glad that you’re one of the people that I’m on this life journey with so much.


Barak Moore  22:37

Just to add one more thing because it Yeah, the main part of it, though, much of what we do in this business is converts stress to foreign and when you are prepared, when you have the right attitude, when you put in the reps, as they say in sports, then the game becomes really fun. The competition becomes really fun. And it is genuinely, it may sound crazy, but you many many students walk out with that test saying, oh my gosh, that was fun.


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:06

I love it. Well, Brock, if our listeners want to get in touch, we’ll put it in the show notes. But how do they find you? What’s the easiest way?


Barak Moore  23:14

Easiest way is to just go into Facebook and check Brock tutor or Brock Gore, and they will pop right up. If you want to email me. We’ll get back to it’s just my name at Gmail which is Barack more var a K m o r e@gmail.com.


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:31

Okay, thanks for


Barak Moore  23:34

Thank you have a wonderful day.


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:40

I simply love the perspective that Barack brings to the college bound journey. I hope that it has expanded your thinking about all the very many to dues that are required along the way. And you’re encouraged to think about the broader implications this has for preparing your team for life. My college bound challenge for you this week, is to just sit down and have a conversation with your team about not the test scores, not about writing an essay or completing an application to get into a college, but the broader scope of the many gains they’re having, and then enumerate some of their wins to empower them to go on and do great things. I’m also going to link to episode number 80. With Dr. Ben Bernstein. On getting your team in the zone when they are dealing with the inevitable stress. It’s a definite great accompaniment to this particular topic. If today’s episode was helpful to you, please share it with a friend who needs us to sharing following the podcast rating and reviewing helps us resource more students to launch into a successful future. Thank you for listening to the College and Career Clarity podcast, where I help your team move from overwhelmed, confused to motivated, clear and confident about their future.