English -verb : to cause an action or process to begin

Catalyze Test Prep

Jorge E. Izquierdo

Why work with me?


People have described me as a "brain whisperer" - I get in your student's head to figure out how they think and how they absorb information. This is the cornerstone of the entire process. My job is not to change how your child learns - it is to understand how they are wired and leverage that. No prep book or canned group class can do the same.


It's tough out there, and standardized testing is no exception. My students are expected to commit to the process and put in the work required to improve. I guide the process and coach, but there is no process if the student doesn't invest time outside of our sessions. I will let you know if you are throwing your money away.


Every student can learn, and every student has their own specific way of doing so. Think of it like DNA. We all have the same basic structures (bones, hair, etc.), but how those structures show up in each person and the exact combination of traits (a little more of this, a bit less of that) are unique to the individual. The brain operates the same way. It is, after all, part of the body.For better or worse, standardized tests are a metric that we as a society have chosen to use as an indicator of academic potential. While they certainly do not capture anywhere near the totality of a student’s abilities, they are an effective proxy for skills that are crucial in college. That’s why they have been around for such a long time. As I often tell students, “There can be a thousand different reasons for doing poorly on the test, but there is only one reason for doing well on it: you are good at the skills it tests.”The benefit of one-on-one sessions is, of course, that I can tailor the presentation of information to the student’s exact learning needs. However, the most vital component of effective tutoring is the relationship. Kids are people first and students second. This principle guides how I treat my students, and I believe it is responsible for a large part of their success.I do not have a template or predetermined script for my work with a student. How a session proceeds is determined by the specific traits and needs of the person in front of me. There are as many paths to success as there are students, and I am here to help your child find theirs.

a bit of history

I was lucky enough to grow up in Chapel Hill, NC and attend UNC-Chapel Hill for college, where I studied Environmental Sciences. Following this, I completed a Master of Science in Soils and Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Davis. After returning to the east coast in the aftermath of the great recession, work was very hard to come by for recent graduates. So I seized the best opportunity I could find at the time: one-on-one test prep and academic tutoring for a prestigious company in Atlanta. This was intended as a short-term stop on the path to something more degree-related, but life had other plans 🙂.That was 12 years ago, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to work individually with hundreds of students. Along the way, I realized that not only do I enjoy this work, but I am quite good at it. A great deal of this success is owed to the diversity of experience I've acquired. In addition to the expected “neurotypical” kids (though what is “typical”, really?), many of my former students have learning differences such as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Executive Functioning challenges, ADHD, or Autism Spectrum. This has equipped me to help almost any type of student find success with testing, regardless of their learning profile.The year 2022 saw me relocate to New England. Following a few months in Boston, I finally settled in the lovely town of Avon, Connecticut.


Happy Parents

The Corley family has worked with Jorge since 2014. He tutored all three of my children for ACT/SAT and my daughter again for the GRE and each one of them had tremendous success with Jorge. All three children are different types of learners with different needs. Each one of them achieved their goals and Jorge is to thank for their success. Two started with other tutoring groups and were not seeing score improvements until they worked with Jorge. They all liked him as a person and he was very patient working around their busy schedules. He figured out what motivated them and what worked best for each one as it related to learning styles. They all got into the school of their choice and/or achieved scores that got them scholarship awards. There is no one better tutor out there and anyone I have referred to Jorge has achieved similar success. The best part is that he works directly with your student to schedule tutoring if you choose to go that route, leaving the parent free from testing stress.

-- Carla C.

Jorge was an invaluable resource for our two children, four grades apart. He put together individual plans for each of them and in both cases their scores improved from the initial evaluation to the final test by 5-10 points per section on the ACT. This jump inevitably gave them more options as they looked to highly selective colleges. We recommend Jorge to anyone that is willing to put in the effort to do the work that he asks a student to do on their own time. He can provide the blueprint for a successful testing experience.

-- Christy H.

I was fortunate enough to have Jorge tutor me in 5th grade for my SSAT and in 11th grade on my SAT and ACT. I was able to score in the 99th percentile both times. He helped me find the tools to improve my scores by focusing on areas that I struggled with. He was very patient and kind, and he helped me build confidence to do well on these tests when I was stressed.

-- Gabriella U. (student)

Jorge is a true professional in every sense of the word.In 2016 and 2017, he tutored my daughter during both her junior and senior years of high school. She is dyslexic, and Jorge provided a tutoring style which complimented her learning style. He enabled my daughter to master her academics with his methodical, effective tutorial approach. He was consistently encouraging, flexible, respectful and highly qualified.Through Jorge's teaching approach and supportive style, my daughter's test-taking capabilities and confidence steadily grew, and she enjoyed a positive learning environment. Additionally, her better understanding of the subject matter and sense of preparedness resulted in less stress and academic pressure.Ultimately, despite her dyslexia, with Jorge's tutoring expertise and a lot of hard work and perseverance, my daughter scored a 34 on her ACT, earned As in all of her AP classes, had the confidence to apply and was accepted to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.We are grateful for Jorge. He exceeded our expectations both as a person and as a tutor. He is a gentleman and a scholar, and he was a delight with whom to work.I highly recommend him and his tutoring services.

-- Eileen S.

Test Prep FAQ

  • How long does the process take?

Your process is your own! Could take anywhere from 3-7 months, depending on several factors: the difference between where you start and your target, whether you are anxious about the process, and how regularly we can meet (spoiler alert: if your schedule does not allow for least 3 sessions per month, this probably is not the tutoring option for you.)

  • Does my child need to commit to a certain number of sessions?

No. Locking people into a certain number of sessions seems a bit manipulative to me. While a large percentage of students take 4-6 months, to assume that I know the exact trajectory of your process before it happens would be dishonest.

  • Where are you located?

The office is at 7 Towpath Ln, Avon CT. It is part of Old Avon Village. For those who are not local, I offer virtual sessions.

  • We live out of state and have doubts about the virtual setup - does it actually work?

Yes. Catalyze Test Prep wouldn't exist otherwise :-) Some people have concerns because of difficult experiences with virtual education during Covid-19, which is understandable.The difference in our case is that the student is connecting one-on-one with a person who holds them accountable - me. They do not get lost in the "back row" of a virtual classroom, which is a risk when working with a group of students.

Why LD coaching?

While test prep is an important portion of high school that students often require support with for a certain period of time, school itself can be daunting for many students, especially those with learning differences.Supports such as separate classes are intended for students with special needs (remedial), and resources like office hours and learning centers are geared toward the “regular” students, who fit the “neurotypical” type of learner. Most people, with slight variations, fall into this category.But what about the students who don’t fit either of these categories? The kids who certainly don’t qualify as remedial or special ed, but who have always found school to be difficult and frustrating despite their best efforts?These are the students with Learning Differences. They are not cognitively impaired - they simply have traits such as Dyslexia, Executive Functioning Differences, ADHD, or others, which lend unique characteristics to their pathways of learning and retaining information. For these students, the conditions of most traditional classrooms often do not work - and that is not their teacher’s fault! Classroom instruction is just not designed for those types of kids. Even the most adept teacher cannot provide these students with what they need. The structures simply don’t allow it.Often, these students feel left behind or lose interest because the format of the lesson is not getting through to them. They need something else.

How Does it Work?

During the last 12 years, I've had the opportunity to work individually with dozens of students with Learning Differences. While there of course are commonalities among people with certain traits, each student is ultimately on their own path. Every student has taught me something, and by this point in my career, I can confidently say that I have a knack for connecting with and helping this population.My job is to help these kids get comfortable with how they are wired - to accept it, be proud of it, and learn to work with it, not despite it. The support they receive from me can take different forms. Some weeks it could be help with an essay, other weeks it could be learning to gather and organize information for a research paper, or preparing for a test that requires a lot of memorization (which can be particularly difficult for students with LD).The relationship for this type of support is longitudinal. People have these traits for their entire lives. So unlike test prep, which lasts for a few months and has a discrete end, LD coaching support is typically a weekly meeting for the length of the school year, or until the student feels comfortable handling school without support - which does happen and is ultimately the goal. Some students work with me for just a few months, others for a school year, and there are a few with whom I have worked several years. Recently, one senior asked me to support them through college :-)


My 13 year old has a mixed expressive-receptive language disorder. Prior to working with Jorge, my son was extremely frustrated with writing and would struggle to find a starting point. A year into working with Jorge, my son’s writing stamina has significantly improved and he no longer finds it a daunting task. Jorge has given my child the confidence to articulate and organize his ideas in a clear and cogent way. He values Jorge’s feedback and is responsive to editing suggestions mostly because it’s presented in a gentle, non-judgmental manner. We truly value Jorge’s work and look forward to our continued partnership. -

-- Fatima K.

Our son worked with Jorge for a good portion of his 6th grade year. Jorge helped him with his writing which has been a significant challenge and source of frustration as a result of Executive Functioning Disorder/ADHD. Jorge took interest in our son’s passions and experiences outside of school and used them as writing topics. He was patient and structured in his approach. Our son’s writing improved considerably as a result of his tutoring and his teachers commented on the difference they saw. Most importantly, our son gained confidence and does not resist written assignments in the same way.

-- Christiane B.

Jorge has worked with our son Tae for the past two years. He is extremely helpful at meeting the kids where they are at, emotionally and academically. I found and continue to find great value in Jorge’s relationship with Tae. He has a way of engaging with the students that makes them feel comfortable opening up and sharing their journeys. He uses great intention in folding in the students’ personal interest and genuinely cares about their well being as humans in this challenging world. He is also so willing to be flexible with topic matter and approach in each session and is open to feedback from parents. This is a relationship we will hold on to for always. Thank you so much Jorge. Invaluable.

-- Margaret H.

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