The ACT or SAT?

One of the most common questions we get from our clients is, "which test should I take?" The truth-all colleges accept both tests; which test you take is based on your test preference. Below is a handy infographic that may help you decide which test is right for you. Our very own Scott Webster gives you the inside scoop on which test may be right for you in this Facebook Live Video.

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When Clay Daniel asked Lee Elberson to become his business partner in 2014, they both knew Clayborne would gain the very benefit we pursue for our students: a better future. Over the past four years, their complementary skill sets have positioned Clayborne as the best-known local tutoring firm in Charlottesville. Since the outset of their partnership, Clayborne has acquired one of its competitors, hired its first full time sales manager, added Scott Webster (Director of College Entrance Exam Prep) to the ownership team, and initiated a comprehensive scholarship program aimed at significantly deepening and widening access to our services to students of every socioeconomic background.

As Clayborne has continued to grow in both clients and staff, the need for a streamlined infrastructure has become evident. As of Jan. 1, 2018, Clay will devote his time to the development of Clayborne’s academic programs and curricula, immersing himself in Clayborne’s primary service: test prep. As Clayborne’s most experienced and highest rated tutor, Clay is uniquely positioned to oversee the training of new tutors and maintain the highest standard of excellence for our team of more than 25 tutors.

Additionally, Lee will now step into a chief operations role, channeling his passion for business development and utilizing his training in and aptitude for quantitative analysis.  For the past four years, Lee has spent considerable time in the business community working as an entrepreneur coach with the Community Investment Collaborative (CIC), a local nonprofit organization . Lee has most recently been appointed Treasurer of the Board of Directors of CIC, a testament to his charisma and capability. This experience has equipped and invigorated Lee to oversee Clayborne’s business management. 

The ownership team believes these changes will allow Clay and Lee to devote their energies to their areas of sharpest gifting and deepest passion. Thank you to everyone who has helped make Clayborne a household name in Charlottesville! 

Ace Your Next Exam!

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Taking a test can be stressful, but Clayborne Education is here to help you build your test-taking strategy. For major tests like the MCAT, LSAT, SAT and ACT, you’ll need to be sure to give yourself enough time to prepare and review your study materials. Test-prep should start weeks to months in advance. To build your strategy, you need to understand the topics the test will cover and the layout of the test.

There are small lifestyle changes that can make a big impact on your score. Good study habits combined with a healthy lifestyle are key when preparing for major tests. Below, we’ve created eight study tips to help you make your best grade!

    The night before your exam, it's critical that you get your rest. Your brain functions best when it's well-rested, so be sure to get your 8 hours!
    Fueling your body with healthy foods also helps your brain function at its peak! Avoid processed foods and opt for whole, nutritious meals. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!
    Healthy body, healthy mind. Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 4 days per week to keep your body fit and your mind sharp.

    Fight the urge to procrastinate! It may sound counter-intuitive, but cramming the night before is not effective. Preparation starts not days, but weeks to months in advance. Practicing healthy habits before the exam helps you to feel less stressed and ready to ace your exams!
    The day of your exam, try to get an early start. If your exam starts at 8 AM, we suggest waking up at 6 AM. Make time for a good workout to get your endorphins going–this prepares your mind for your day and will help you focus later. Be sure to arrive at your exam site early.

    Eating breakfast every day helps to give your brain the energy it needs to accomplish tasks. Before your exam, avoid sugary foods and opt for nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, avocado, berries, fish, eggs, or nuts.

    Take a deep breath. Before you walk into your exam, take a moment to go over your test-taking strategy. Take a moment to breathe and center your mind to prepare for what’s ahead.


    You got this! You're more prepared than you think. If you've followed the tips on this list, you'll be ready to take on your big day.


Clayborne Education has helped all three of my children with standardized testing for the SAT, ACT, and GRE. The one-on-one approach that is tailored to strengthen weaknesses without wasting time on strengths has made the process doable and engaging. My kids have gone through their various standardized tests well-prepared, and confident. With Clayborne’s help, my kids know they maximized their testing taking abilities, and earned the best scores they were capable of earning. We have also used Clayborne Education’s math and science tutoring, as well as academic coaching services. Those services have been excellent, as well. I am grateful to have a service such as Clayborne around to make what could be a stressful college application situation navigable and smooth. I can’t recommend Clayborne Education enough!
— Diane Auger Smith

Refugee Scholarship Fund Recipient: Kibiriti Majuto

We initiated a Refugee Fund in 2016 and Kibiriti Majuto, a refugee student who was in his Junior year at CHS, became the first recipient. We were able to help him with many of his academic needs. We are very thankful to all of those who supported this fund and made Kibiriti’s experience at Clayborne possible. Our aim was to help Kibiriti gain admission to college and see him flourish once there, and we have seen just that.

While finishing up his time at CHS this past year Kibriti continued to display his diligence and commitment to succeed. During his senior year he was heavily involved in the CHS and Charlottesville community, by participating in Black Student Union, the International Club, We Are the Line, Culture to Culture, Charlottesville Youth Council, and Student Council Association at CHS, where he served as class president for both Junior and Senior year. Kibiriti had a great senior year, where he “got the opportunity to start a new club, have a successful senior year, and organize with some local leaders on things that could be done to address all the immigration problems going at the local level.” Kibiriti also had the opportunity to lobby at the United States House of Representatives for refugee rights.

Kibriti graduated from CHS, and this summer lived in New Mexico where he was involved with the Earth Guardians’ Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth. He expressed that this summer was a “great opportunity for me learn about different campaigns,” as well as connect to what young people in and across the U.S. are doing.

Kibiriti started at PVCC this fall, and is taking a full load of classes. Beyond the classroom, he is still heavily involved in the local community. Kibiriti now sits on the board of Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice. We are excited to see what else is in store for Kibriti this year and beyond, and so we desire to continue to support Kibiriti’s academic needs this year.  

We still need support to make helping Kibiriti possible. Clayborne is hoping to soon begin another Refugee Fund that we anticipate not only to support one year of Kibiriti’s academic support here at Clayborne, but also to support another high school refugee student through our comprehensive academic program. We desire to provide a platform for all students of this city to succeed regardless of background and resources. Consider giving to this expected Refugee Fund, and in doing so partnering with Clayborne to support the students of our local community.


More schools are going “test-optional.” Does this spell the end for test prep?


Emphatically, NO!

Yes, the list of schools no longer requiring standardized test scores for admission has now reached 950 institutions, 275 of them highly ranked according to U.S. News & World Report [source: National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest)].  And yes, in the end, your academic performance, extracurricular involvement, and admission essay weigh more heavily on your application than do standardized test scores; however, here’s why you shouldn’t throw in the test prep towel just yet:

  • Standardized test scores will always be, for better or worse, the great equalizer.  Admissions officers assess thousands of students from across the world every year, all with spectacular GPAs, diverse extracurriculars, various sports accolades, and prize-winning admission essays  [source: NACAC criteria for admission].  How will YOU differentiate yourself from the pack?  A strong SAT and/or ACT score can be that edge you may need.

  • Standardized test scores will be tied to merit-based scholarships.  With the cost of tuition (not including other fees and room-and-board) ranging from $14,000 on average for public institutions to $50,000 for private institutions, need-based financial aid can only do so much.  According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), four out of five schools used standardized test criteria for merit-based financial aid [source: NACAC].  The potential aid awarded ranges from a not-insignificant $1000 per year (contingent on minimum standardized test score criteria) to full-tuition and board.  SAT and ACT test performance is often tied to the school’s purse strings, so do what you can to loosen them!

We realize this is coming from a company whose business model is built on test prep, and we readily acknowledge the suspect, self-serving  nature of recent attacks on schools going test optional (see Collegeboard’s and ACT’s reaction).  Nonetheless, we believe standardized tests are here to stay, and we’re committed to helping both students and parents navigate the undulating - and oft-overwhelming - landscape of test preparation and college admission planning.

Have questions or concerns about schools going test optional?  Contact Clayborne now!


-Scott Webster, Co-Owner and Director of College Entrance Exam Prep

Talented Former Student, Isabella Gorman

We would like to wish Isabella well with her music program auditions! We are so glad she was able to use her sessions with us to prepare for life beyond high school. 

"I am constantly reminded of study and time management techniques you taught me as they continue to save me everyday. I miss coming to Clayborne."

Clayborne Expands, Adding Second Location on Ivy Road

As many of you know, we purchased Champion Tutoring in 2015.

Over the summer, we worked hard to fully adsorb the Champion team and location into Clayborne so that we could continue to provide the best test prep and tutoring services in Charlottesville.

What does that mean for you? Now we have a second location, a larger talent pool of tutors, and expanded offerings for subject tutoring and SAT/ACT Test Prep!

Our second location is beside Foods of All Nations off Ivy Road. The address is 2125 Ivy Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903

Team Clayborne Takes 2nd Prize in Charlottesville Wordplay

Our Champion/Clayborne team took 2nd place out of 47 teams for the biggest trivia challenge in town - the Charlottesville Wordplay!

The contest is put on by the Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle and raises money to address adult illiteracy in our community. 

We are a proud sponsor of and advocate for the good work our friends are doing in the community, and you can find out more about them by going to their website - Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle

Arguments: Not Just Screaming Matches

Quick! Read the two paragraphs below and consider: which one is a true argument?


  1. On the one hand, the cormorant, an aquatic bird also known as a ‘shag,’ has been used in heraldry to represent the Christian cross, in that the bird often raises its wings to dry them in the sun. On the other hand, in Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan took the form of a cormorant, perching greedily on the top of the Tree of Life to look upon Adam and Eve in their innocence. In a more mundane instance, the cormorant also served as the hood ornament for the old Packard automobile.

  2. Cormorants have relatively short wings and one of the highest flight costs of any bird species. The wandering albatross, meanwhile, has the longest wingspan of any extant bird, and its flight costs are relatively low. It would appear that there is an inverse relationship between the size of a bird’s wings and the flight costs it incurs.

If you said “the second,” give yourself a high five. (No really … we’ll wait!) Though the first paragraph has a lot of interesting facts, only the second makes a debatable claim based on certain factual premises: “There is an inverse relationship between the size of a bird’s wings and the flight costs it incurs.” With enough research (or by consulting an ornithologist), we could determine whether such a claim is true or false. Based on the evidence given, though, it may well be true or false--the evidence may suggest the conclusion, but doesn’t prove it.

We read claims like this all the time. And though any decent argument has a debatable claim (i.e., it’s worth discussing), many bottom line points are not falsifiable like the one above about birds. That is, they’re more matters of opinion:

“In a democracy, it’s every citizen’s duty to vote in national elections.”

“The Cubs are the thinking person’s choice in a baseball team.”

“My combination mohawk-mullet is the best look I’ve ever sported.”

These opinions are varying degrees of fun to toss around, depending on whom you’re talking to. But any discussion is going to founder hopelessly unless such opinions are supported by some relevant evidence. The speaker of the first claim might wax profound about the nature of democracy. For the second opinion one might marshal evidence concerning the Cubs’ unique history. The third speaker, well … s/he might just point up to the headward region, or perhaps recite a litany of other, more unfortunate haircuts s/he has rocked in the past.

But it can be very tricky to connect a debatable claim with evidence simultaneously relevant and persuasive, all while avoiding an argument that springs more holes than the Dutch boy’s dike. Consider the two arguments below; which claim has the better, well, claim to truth?

  1. “Any reasonably careful observer can see that Marcel is nervous today. He keeps fidgeting and rubbing his hands together; there are beads of sweat collecting at the top of his forehead; when I greeted him this morning he barely looked in my direction, whereas usually he is affable and quick to say hello.”

  2. “Any reasonably careful observer can see that the Holey Donut Shop is not doing well. When I drove by last night, there wasn’t a car in the parking lot. The place never stays open past 11 a.m., and the owner recently decided to close it entirely on Sundays. Finally, none of my friends at the gym have ever mentioned tasting a Holey Donut.”

The first one, right? The Holey Donut argument is, let’s say, holey. After all, who says a donut shop has to be open at night to be successful? And why might the owner decide to close on Sundays? Maybe she wanted to take a day off, and was already making money hand over first! And come on: your friends at the gym? Not exactly your typical donut eaters, most likely … and if they were pigging out on Holey Donuts, they might not admit it to they gym buddies, n’est-ce pas?

Meanwhile, notice something important about the first argument: no one should suggest that it’s absolutely, positively airtight. After all, Marcel could have some medical condition that’s causing all the symptoms we’re chalking up to his nerves. But at least this author has cited some relevant evidence that seems to suggest something regarding anxiety might be going on.

We at Clayborne think about making arguments a good deal … and not just when we’re tutoring for the LSAT. Election year or not, all of us can benefit now and then from an examination of our opinions in the cold light of logic. To this end--and just for fun (for us at least)--this summer we’ll be inaugurating Fallacy Friday on our social media feed. It’s yet another way to nerd out while perhaps giving someone somewhere a chance to learn something. Stay tuned!