Standardized testing can be one of the most daunting tasks of junior year, or any year of high school for that matter. And with this testing, of course, comes the ever-looming responsibility to prepare for the test you choose to take. Nearly every college requires either the ACT or SAT, and if you have have aspirations of attending a prestigious university, you’ll want to do everything within your power to kick butt on that Saturday morning of testing. But, while you do you know that it’s crucial to study, you may be completely in the dark about the different methods of prepping and which is right for you—I’m here to shed some light on the very matter.
This type of tutoring generally appeals to two types of people: those who are willing to spend a good deal of money on tutoring, or those who are generally comfortable with the test’s subject matter and need only a few sessions to point them in the right direction. There’s no shame in falling under either category, and honestly, private tutoring would probably be my top choice of the three styles. It provides personal and specified help, rather than catering to the needs of an entire class.
One drawback though, aside from the fact that it is certainly more expensive than a class, is that you will often need to work with different tutors for each subject. Classes, on the contrary, are typically all-inclusive material-wise, but if you find your own tutor, it’s unlikely that he or she will be able to help with every subject. Along with this comes the fact that you may need to travel to the tutors’ homes, which is another factor to think about. However, some test prep companies do offer private tutors in addition to their classes, so don’t rule out this approach for fear of having to travel near and far for your tutor.
Though I’ve never been enrolled in one, many of my peers have taken prep classes at different places, and for the most part, have provided a general consensus. Though they have learned a variety of techniques and tips for test-taking and have also been able to ask specific questions in their classes, they claim that the majority of the time is spent taking practice tests from books that can be purchased at home.
After learning this fact, you may feel that there is absolutely no need to invest in taking a class when you could do the same exact thing at home, but I urge you to reconsider. Though some students may be just as well off with a book, a lot of kids struggle with motivation and disciplinary skills, and do not have the drive to take practice tests and research test-taking strategies on their own. So, if you’re one of these students who doesn’t need a ton of one-on-one help but rather the push to prep, a group class may be just the thing for you.
In addition to taking classes in person, some companies offer online classes that clearly add a convenience-factor. I don’t personally know anyone who has had experience with one, but it’s something else to consider, though it’s more impersonal than physically taking a class. Kaplan Test Prep offers some virtual classes that you could surely look into.
This final method is efficient for a very slim group of people: those who are entirely self-motivated. Most students aren’t eager to do test prep in their spare time, but those who are can prepare just as well at home as they could elsewhere. This technique also works for those who don’t need specific help in subject areas and can coach themselves through difficult questions. For this reason, this method does not suit everyone, but it’s definitely an option to consider before investing in a tutor or class.
Ultimately, achieving a good score on whichever standardized test you choose to take is totally conquerable, but preparing adequately is truly essential for most people. It’s probably not the first thing you’d like to do in the time you aren’t already spending on schoolwork, but a killer test score will pave the path for the future, and that is really worth all the blood and tears.