You want to succeed. You want the best possible score you can get on all your exams. You want to look “competitive enough” to the admissions committee of all your prospective universities. I get it. I was once in your position and had the exact same sentiment. I completely understand why you and your family would want to put you in extra classes to give you that extra edge. However, while I do agree with investment in your education, I do not believe in doing so by spending an extra thousand dollars or even more to prepare for one exam. Here is why.
Holistic Admissions Process
I never bothered myself to take these private SAT prep classes, despite the fact that many of my peers did. I have always been the type to work with what I have got and what I could find on my own. Maybe I could have achieved a higher score than I did, but in the end, I still got into a lot of the same schools as my peers who had the all-around better test scores. Why was this the case? The college admissions process is a holistic one, so while your AP Exam, SAT/ACT, and SAT subject test scores matter to some extent, they are just one part of all that your admissions decision is based off of. Your personal statements and grades play a role as well, if not more so.
There is a reason why it is so difficult to gauge and understand why some students are accepted while others are not. You could be a super stellar student, what with the grades and the on-campus and off-campus extracurricular activities, and still be rejected from one of the top universities in the nation. You could be the average student who was accepted with mediocre grades and one or two extracurricular activities, but had a compelling story. Each person’s circumstance is unique and while as students we constantly try to fit ourselves into a box of perfection, anything and everything could happen.
Those two hours you would spend twice a week in those extra classes could be better spent at challenging yourself, developing a skill in something you love. My advice is to study as efficiently as you can, utilize what resources you can find, and take the tests. If you do not do so hot, it is fine. Adjust yourself, retake it, and if you are still unhappy with your score, try to focus on other aspects of your high school career. One test does not mean it is the end.
These classes are simply not worth it when the modern day and age has expanded our access to free resources. It is almost too easy to just store that fee into your college fund and rely on and maximize all the free resources you can get your hands on. CollegeBoard has their own “SAT Question of the Day” application, along with the other ten or so similar test preparation applications. Quizlet allows you to make your own flashcards or access others’ based on your needs, whether something as simple as vocabulary or more complex like multiple choice comprehensive reading questions. Remember what the public library is? That dull-looking building with tons of books? Well, most have their own test prep sections you can browse for resources on every test, ranging from the SAT and ACT all the way to the GRE and MCAT. The books they offer are great resources for comprehensive guides to your exam. One-stop shopping, except they’re all free!
If you are still insistent about these private classes, utilize your friendships and get old copies of their mock exams from those classes! They have tons and tons of old materials and it does not hurt to ask! These are just a few of the resources off the top of my head that I used and I am sure there are a lot more, but the point is that there is such a plethora of free study material that you do not even need to think about enrolling in extra classes for an exorbitant fee. I managed just fine with all of this and though I was not satisfied with my score, it did not greatly hinder my path to higher education and to be honest, I could have just spent more time studying than I actually did.