Our Story

Welcome! I'm Mark Lyon, the owner and director and teacher at Lyon Prep Academy.  For several years we operated as a college admissions counselling and SAT prep and program in Palo Alto, California, about a mile from Stanford University, allowing us to interact with some of the brightest students in the country, helping them build their confidence, improve their writing ability and SAT scores and to gain admission into some of the America's most prestigious universities.   For the firsttwo years, I managed everything myself, but the business soon expanded to the point that this because impossible. We began to focus more on online tutoring and guidance, and I have hired a staff of highly qualified and specialized tutors in different locations to help students in all aspects of their college application process, standardized test prep, and academic careers.  Simultaneously, Lyon Prep has been creating partnerships with different institutions from around the world, and our success with this had made it impossible to maintain our original Palo Alto office as a consistent location for face-to-face counselling and tutoring.   We now have our full program offering in Hanoi, Vietnam, and partial offerings in Bangkok, Thailand, Chicago, Illinois, and Yuma, Arizona.  Online students will have the benefit of working with all four members of our team, each one specializing in a different aspect of the students education and application process.

Benefits of using Lyon Prep

Although it is easy for many test prep companies to raise the scores of students who are new to the test– students whose scores would rise naturally, just from familiarization with the test questions — Lyon Prep has taken on the far more challenging task of raising the scores of students who are already great scorers, many of whom have already gone through other programs or have studied independently — students who often feel that their scores have already plateaued.  As a near-perfect scorer myself, I have raised these students' scores by an average of well over 300 points, transforming them from simply being 'great' test-takers into test-takers whose scores stand out even in the Ivy League. With very rare exceptions, students who have gone through the Lyon Prep program have consistently achieved final scores well into the 90th percentile, with roughly half of them achieving scores within the 99th. Amazingly, Lyon Prep students, on average, score significantly better on the SAT's than do even the instructors in some of the most popular SAT prep programs.  Here are a few key elements that have led to Lyon Prep's success.

 *Individual Attention:  All classes are either 1-on-1 or capped at 6 students

*Specialized Guidance and Instruction:  Here at Lyon prep, we are very proud of the team we have developed, and we believe that you won’t find a better team at any other company. We have an SAT specialist, a literature specialist, a creative writing specialist, and a specialist in ESL. Each of the team members is a personal friend who Mark has met throughout the years, hand-picked from various academic settings. Each one has a master’s degree in his or her field and all but one has or is working on a PhD.  Each one has a minimum of 8 years teaching experience and has worked with both high school and University students. Each one of them is passionate about his or her subject, about being mentors for the students, and about having a positive impact on the world. Click on their photos below to see their biographies and specialties.

*Free 2-hour Trial Session:   Before any student registers for a test prep class or a 1-on-1 tutoring package, he or she takes a practice test and goes through a free two-hour trial session. Unlike other test prep companies, which use these sessions primarily as a sales pitch for the package they are offering, we at Lyon Prep believe that a lot can be accomplished in two hours. With this in mind, we do our best to ensure that this session is valuable to your child whether or not he or she decides to sign up for additional tutoring.   We understand that parents want to make decisions based on what a tutor has accomplished rather than what the tutor promises that he will do.

*Clear Objectives with Guaranteed Results:  Test prep students are provided with a target score before they register for class. In the rare case that a student doesn't meet or exceed his target score, he gets up to 50% more tutoring until he does.

*Frequent Practice Tests:  Students who register for 20 hours of SAT tutoring (or a 64 hour class) will take 10 SAT exams, discussing and learning strategies for solving every problem that they missed.    Lyon Prep used only real SAT exams published the College Board, and we use only these exams to measure improvement of our students.  We believe that there is no valid justification for a company manufacturing its own exams (since there are more than twenty real ones available) and that you should away from any company that does. We also strongly encourage you to read this Wall Street Journal article that warns about the dishonesty and ineffectuality  of companies that manufacture their own exams –  companies that include Kaplan and The Princeton review — who can make it look like their students are making tremendous gains when, in fact, their students show an average real gain of only 30 points.

*Weekly Progress Reports:    Parents are always aware of how their children are progressing, both in terms of their score increases and their engagement in the class. 

*Teacher Handles All Aspects of the Program:  Whereas many academies have parents talking to administrators — never meeting with their child's actual instructor– at Lyon Prep the teacher is the only one person that you deal with. Eliminating the bureaucracy not only allows us to keep the costs down, have smaller classes, and provide the students and parents with more individual attention, but, most importantly, it allows the teacher to teach from his own curriculum — a curriculum that  he understands thoroughly, since he designed it, and that only contains material that  works for him and that he 100% believe in.  

*We employ socially responsible business practice:  A percentage of what you spend at Lyon Prep goes back to help both our community and the world that we live in.  In October, for example, Lyon Prep donated $3300 worth of services to the Addison Auction to help out the PAUSD school system, and, through Lyon Prep Worldwide, we offer heavily discounted tutoring and admissions counseling to students in under-represented countries, such as Myanmar, helping prepare them to enter America's top tier universities. 

So, will Lyon Prep work for you and your students? Luckily, with our two-hour free trial lesson, it is easy for them to find out. 

Benefits of Online Tutoring

The biggest benefit, of course, is that online tutoring can offer your school better tutors who are experts at their subject matter.  Although some locations, and Palo Alto specifically, provide many options for high quality tutors, this is not the case of most of the United States, and is certainly not the case for many international locations.  Most international schools don't have enough demand to import professional test prep instructors to work full time, meaning they either use other subject teachers to teach test prep or they offer no test prep program at all. This means that students either don't prepare for the test or  feel forced to find test prep services within the surrounding community. In many communities the students only choices are between the big companies — Princeton Review, Kaplan, Sylvan, Huntington –  companies that fail to show results because they hire inexperienced tutors who are paid $13 – $25 per hour.  Students might also hire local independent tutors who are sometimes competent and sometimes not.   Currently, all international online tutoring at Lyon Prep is being handled by me, the owner of the academy, a near-perfect scorer who has many years experience teaching test prep and other courses, who has developed his own curriculum and course-book, who has achieved consistent improvements of 300 points or more. Other benefits of online tutoring are listed below


*Online tutoring is convenient:  Already, too much of a student's life is spent travelling from place to place, and the time spent physically inside a vehicle is only a small part of it.     When you include getting ready, travelling there, travelling back, and settling back in at home, a one hour tutoring session can easily become a 2 hour time commitment.  With online tutoring, it is easy for your students to spend a single hour productively and then get on with their lives

*Online tutoring promotes other online communication:  In our experience, online students are much more likely than face-to-face students to communicate with the instructor via e-mail.  Also, Lyon Prep can send them important  files instantly, exactly when they need them.   This comes in handy when, during a lesson, it becomes clear that a student needs extra practice in a particular area. 

*Online tutoring provides practice using online resources: When I tutor students in person, I am always telling them about benefits of certain features of vocabulary.com or tucked away in the Perdue online writing lab.  However, when it comes to them using these resources, it is always hit or miss. On the online sessions, however, we know that they are using the resources that we suggest to them, because we can actually talk them through it, in real time, so they can use them to solve real problems and better learn the material for the test. 

*Online tutoring feels different from a class:  This fact – often feared to be online tutoring’s greatest weakness – can often emerge as online tutoring’s greatest strength.  This is because your students have been conditioned through 12 years of school to behave a certain way in classrooms — and a certain way towards teachers — and this conditioning often inhibits them from using the 1-on-1 sessions to their full potential.  Somehow, the added barrier of a computer screen — combined with the fact that the students are learning from their homes — provides students (in particular, those students who are naturally shy or reserved) with the extra courage to take control of the  tutoring sessions.  Online students are more likely to admit when they are having trouble with a concept,  more likely to speak up if a strategy isn't working for them, and more likely to risk being 'wrong' when interpreting a passage or when laying out their thoughts. 

So, will online tutoring work for you and your students? Luckily, with our two-hour free trial lesson, it is easy for them to find out. 


The results:

*Students have been accepted into all