Like many others in their college days, David Benjamin Gruenbaum dreamed of becoming a professional musician. Like many others in their college days, this dream never turned into reality. However, this led Gruenbaum to find his natural calling in high school test preparation and as an SAT instructor.
‘I was very close to a recording contract. When that fell through, my mother actually suggested that I get into SAT preparation because I did well in high school on the test,’ Gruenbaum said. ‘So I went ahead and worked with a few of the big test preparation companies. Within two months, everyone was referring people to me. So I decided to get out and start my own company.’
Sixteen years later, Gruenbaum and his wife Heather Gruenbaum now own Ahead of the Class, a private education and test preparation company based here in Irvine. His wife works with students to develop personal statements while he focuses on the SAT.
When former UC President Richard C. Atkinson suggested that the SAT I be eliminated from the UC admissions process in 2001and said students would be required to take five SAT II Subject Tests, Gruenbaum was worried that it would hurt students, especially those in California.
‘I thought to myself, ‘Poor kids in California,” Gruenbaum said. ‘They’re going to have to take all these tests just for the UC system, plus the SAT I for everyone else because every [other university] won’t want to do that same plan.’
Gruenbaum then came up with an idea to salvage and improve the SAT I.
‘I started thinking about it. The people who come to me take SAT I, SAT II, ACT