Among the many things that we do during our high school lives, the SAT/ACT stand among the most important. They are what we as high schoolers spend half of our high school lives worrying about, like whether or not a 32 on the ACT or a 2,220 on the SAT will be good enough for our dream schools. So how do we prepare for these standardized exams?
In our society today there are many and I mean MANY prep books out there (Barrons, Princeton Review, etc.) that claim to be able to prepare you for these 3-4 hour tests, but it leaves one wondering whether there is something else that they can do. Of course, that’s where the SAT/ACT prep classes come in. Like in any economic system, the market provides what the customers need, and in this case it’s these prep classes. They usually range from about $900-1200, with the session numbers around 5-7. For anyone who has seen commercials or ads for these types of classes, you know that they promise score increases by the hundreds and claim to be completely effective at raising your score, but in reality is this true? Are these classes really worth the hundreds and thousands of dollars?
To be completely honest there is no black or white answer to this question; there are positives and negatives to both sides. On
the plus side, there is the hope of greatly increasing your scores, making you a more viable candidate for many of the universities out there. On the downside, there is the possibility that the classes don’t help you out that much and you just wasted a thousand bucks. There are many stories of both of these instances happening. My friend took classes and it went great for her, she was able to increase her SAT score by about 200 points whereas another friend who took classes barely increased her score. It all depends on you and the class that you choose to take.
Here are a few helpful tips when considering to take prep classes:
1. Research: the first thing that you should do before spending thousands of dollars on classes is research the test that you are planning to take, whether it be the SAT, ACT, or both. Don’t go in without doing your research; learn the structure of the exam and the time limits and the material that will be covered. Go on to take a practice test — although this may seem like an obvious step, you would be surprised at how many people jump into classes without actually trying by themselves. Once you take the practice exam, see how well you did and try to see if what you need to improve on is something that you can do through self practice or whether you need professional advice.
2. Options: if you do decide that you want to take classes, you need to once again do your research. Don’t just enroll for the first prep class that you see; ask your friends who have taken classes, especially the friends that are older than you. See what they say about the different classes and who they recommend. Then research these places, see what kind of prep they offer, and where you can get the best bang for your buck.
3. Keep in touch with reality: when you take classes make sure that you understand that your score might not improve by 300 or 400 points. Although the company offering you classes might boast of people having such large increases, this is just for some people; it may not apply for everyone. Your improvement might just be by 30-40 points (SAT) or 2-3 points (ACT). Don’t let this thought discourage you from taking classes. Sometimes 30-40 points makes a huge difference, especially if you’re trying to get into special programs at your dream school.
Overall prep classes might be great for some of you and not so great for the rest. If you’ve tried everything and still want to improve, they might be worth a shot. Although paying a $1000 bucks may seem like a lot, it may pay off later when you get into Princeton or Vanderbilt. With that I wish you guys luck in your SAT/ACT endeavors!