The College Board is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization; however it has been criticized in recent years by test-takers, parents, and industry professionals alike as not really being non-profit. Reasons for that include the fact that it is a giant organization that overcharges for everything—really, do you need to charge me that much money to put my answer sheet in a machine, take the results, and send it to a college?—and the fact that its executives and employees receive compensation and benefits that rival and sometimes exceed leaders of for-profit corporations. According to this NY Times article, at one point, the president of the College Board had an annual salary of $1,300,000.
Whether they meant to or not, the College Board also created entire industries surrounding their tests, one of the largest being test prep tutoring. Countless juniors, seniors, and even some overzealous freshmen and sophomores spend thousands of dollars to hire a tutor to teach them how to take the SAT. But is it really worth it?
Often times, it comes down to your individual preference. Do you want to be taught, or would you like to teach yourself? My personal opinion is that SAT prep courses aren’t really worth it. I’m a fan of the good ol’ review book that tells you the exact same thing a tutor would. There’s really not much someone can teach you about the SAT. It’s a test with three categories that have several subcategories. You will get asked questions, for which you will have to study for. Learn vocabulary words. Learn how to write a boring, standard, four-paragraph essay. Learn how to use the Pythagorean Theorem. Learn the process of elimination. And learn to do these things within a time limit. I’ve just condensed SAT prep into five things you should learn.
But that’s just me. So I decided to ask around a little.
My homeboy and roommate, Evan Delgado, thinks that, at least from personal experience, it’s a rip-off. He thinks that you’re basically paying somebody to keep you focused. He also thinks the College Board is a “scam artist.” So take his advice however you want.
Evan and I agreed for the most part. So I decided ask around a little farther away from my room. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anyone who disagreed with me. But there are some pros to taking an SAT prep course. Some tutors may have taken the SAT several times and received phenomenal scores. Some tutors may know things that we do not. So you could get some valuable insight that only comes with experience. Furthermore, if you don’t understand something, you can just ask your tutor to explain it in laymen’s terms rather than trying to interpret some academic jargon.
In the end, you just need to tailor how you study for the SAT to your personal preferences. If you’re willing to spend money to hire a tutor, I’m sure it couldn’t hurt. But I’m also pretty sure that all of who’s reading this is perfectly capable of preparing for the SAT(an) by themselves.