One of the most common parts of the college application process, the SAT/ACT are required by most colleges for admission. The importance of such a test increase the demand for prep classes to such an extent that these entities can charge up to thousands of dollars for a simple course and get away with it. Even besides this, classes like these come with a lot of flaws.
They defeat the purpose of the SAT/ACT
The entire point of standardized testing is to give all students an equal footing for colleges to judge them on. Coaching classes that are so expensive that only the upper or upper middle class can afford them, lengthening the gap between the classes further.
Negligible difference in scores
A report by The National Association of College Admissions Counseling found that prep increases SAT scores by an average of 30 points (or >1 ACT point), which can be achieved by self studying. When you compare the $30 pricetag of a prep book versus the cost of classes, skipping the classes are a rational decision even as you enter the expensive world of higher education.
Incompatible teaching style
Everyone has a favorite teacher, often because they score well in the class and this comes from their personal preference of study methods. While some may prefer memorizing vocab words, others do better by understanding the roots of the word, especially if they are proficient in many languages. This difference, while no one’s fault results in the student not getting the most out of a teacher who otherwise provides excellent results.
This may also apply to well-meaning but misled students who scored well on the test and believe that this gives them the expertise to guide another person through the process. But here too the same principle aplies and it is not always effective.
Structural changes in tests
With the new format of the SAT set to begin in 2016, the SAT prep classes have never coached students for the changed SAT, so they have no prior experience, just like a student self studying from a textbook. Standardized tests keep updating themselves every few years and so the test companies find themselves in this same position several times.
Individual tutor sessions
Why pay thousands to attend a course that does not even give you personalized attention when you can self study and then get help on only the parts you need in a one-time hour-long session? This resolves the problem of his methods not working for you because you can directly communicate the same if required.
Free alternative classes
If you explore, there are plenty of other possibilities than shelling out all that money. For example, following the 2016 revamp of the SAT, the College Board and Khan Academy have formed a new partnership offering free online test preparation. Following a more traditional path, you can ask your school teachers for help. You are already paying for your education, and you will also know the teaching styles and reputations of teachers beforehand.
If you really can afford the help and are only taking classes from huge, cheaper corporations like Kaplan because you have not done any research, you are doing yourself a disservice. Some tutors out there may actually help, especially if they are progressive inventions such as ArborBridge that lets you take classes on your iPhone.
Test coaching is an unnecessary practice, fueled by overanxious parents and nervous students, backed by the greed of corporations and their mutual understanding within the institution of testing. Reason with yourself why you would need a service of this sort and if you do believe that they will help you, by all means go ahead. But do right by yourself, because while the SAT itself does not define you, it’s outcomes undeniably will for years later.