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Boost SAT scores by 400 points, says start-up

A test center that can boost you from a high achiever to genius-level on the SAT? It beats hacking into the system.

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Crazy parents, pay attention. You'll probably be forking money over to Jason Ma in the near future.

Ma, CEO and founder of VC firm Congruent Partners, is behind Vanteus, an education center that helps high-achieving students boost their SAT scores. Companies like Kaplan and the Princeton Review concentrate on a wide swath of students, Ma said.

Vanteus' courses and education modules are geared at kids who want to raise their score from 1800 or 2100 closer to the 2400 maximum. (There are now three modules on the SAT, so an 1800 is equivalent to 1200 in the old system and 2400 is a formerly perfect 1600.)

Students in a testimonial page for the company say they boosted their scores by 160 to 490 points on practice tests. A couple of students scored a perfect 2400 on the actual test. Would they have improved without the course or some other course? Perhaps, but the results seem pretty good.

Right now, Vanteus has centers in Cupertino, Fremont and Pleasanton, Calif. (There are cities where a score of 1500 and an admission letter from Middlebury would plunge an entire family into a deep well of depression.) Ma wants to go nationwide next.

Education--as we've written about--is becoming a big focal point for the Valley. Azure Capital jump-started the growing and several education companies at a recent ThinkEquity Partners event made pitches for venture funds.

I ran into Ma, whom I've interviewed before, near the snack table at the AlwaysOn Stanford Summit taking place this week. He's going to probably make a pile with this new venture.

In the interests of disclosure, I'm a big believer in the SAT. My scores helped me get into Cornell (and since then, it's been a long, slow ride down the intellectual achievement curve.) Today, my scores wouldn't get me into Hampshire College.