SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

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Regattamom
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SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by Regattamom » Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:37 am

Hello. This may be a hot topic right now considering what has come to light with the Varsity Blues scandal and with many schools opting out of requiring ACT/SAT scores or possibly making their schools test optional. I don't want to get into the politics of the issue or debate the validity of the tests, please.

We need to decide soon if we are going to pay for prep courses for our child. I know many parents use online courses, local tutors, etc and I have heard that it has raised their child's score (some modestly, some more significantly). If you have paid for prep courses or a tutor, would you please comment on how much you paid, what type of prep course and if you felt it was worth the money?

Thank you.
Last edited by Regattamom on Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

valleyrock
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by valleyrock » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:19 am

We've been thinking about this. Some years ago, as a result of lawsuits, access to the actual exams, after they were given, was made possible. I think that was in New York State, but one state is enough. So, one idea is to make sure that test prep materials and outfits doing test preparation are accessing, and provide access to, actual past exams. In college and graduate school, I always tried to get ahold of previous exams and it helped a lot.

Seems to me there are only so many variations on many mathematical concepts, and vocabulary as well, such that some level of test prep can help. But some books at the public library might be sufficient. All this presupposes that the kid will pay attention. My 16 year old already know everything, so it's not likely to be cost efficient to pay for help.

Ob81
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by Ob81 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:21 am

$0. I told my H.S. Student to pay attention in class starting at age 6. He took the scheduled practice test and when the results came showing his weak sections, we went to the library and studied books in those sections. 1520. Our general idea was that if we were going to pay someone for 3 hours a week, we could just take 6 hours a week at the library and probably get the same results. I got a lot of reading done during that time as well.

Good luck.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:23 am

One kid we spent <$100 on sample test books. The other kid benefited from a few hours of a local tutor to help with the English portion of the SAT.

Both scored fine in SAT and only the second kid took both SAT and ACT.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

Ob81
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by Ob81 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:24 am

valleyrock wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:19 am
We've been thinking about this. Some years ago, as a result of lawsuits, access to the actual exams, after they were given, was made possible. I think that was in New York State, but one state is enough. So, one idea is to make sure that test prep materials and outfits doing test preparation are accessing, and provide access to, actual past exams. In college and graduate school, I always tried to get ahold of previous exams and it helped a lot.

Seems to me there are only so many variations on many mathematical concepts, and vocabulary as well, such that some level of test prep can help. But some books at the public library might be sufficient. All this presupposes that the kid will pay attention. My 16 year old already know everything, so it's not likely to be cost efficient to pay for help.
Funny that you mention NY. NY and NJ have the highest amount of perfect scores in the U.S.

Jags4186
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by Jags4186 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:35 am

I took Princeton Review in high school around 2002. I think it cost $1200 + books. Score went up from low 1200s to low 1400s.

Worth it for me but I always did better when I had an instructor vs individual study. If your child is disciplined and good self studying I think they can do the same.

I also spent I think $1000 for Kaplan LSAT. I went from 600 to 700. Didn’t even end up applying to law school.

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ram
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by ram » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:10 pm

Older child spent less than $50 for a couple of books. The younger one used the same books. ACT scores were 35 and 36 for them with comparable SAT scores. The younger one made some money in college teaching SAT prep (among other things) over the internet.
Ram

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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:17 pm

Zero....
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

psteinx
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by psteinx » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:20 pm

Short version: Around $400 for tutoring (for 1 of 2 kids who've been through this), plus some books in addition to that.

==========

Long version: 2 kids in college, 1 in HS. Older 2 have been through this, youngest took a 7th grade ACT (for Duke TIP).

All kids aimed at the ACT, not the SAT (we're in the midwest, the school offers one free ACT, etc.) But the oldest two both took the PSAT in sophomore and junior year (trying for National Merit, and maybe just general test prep).

Had various prep books. Both kids did practice tests, probably starting summer before junior year and/or early in junior year.

ACT composite results are rounded, but I'll report unrounded here, and only the deltas.

First proper practice test (unofficial), Sept/Oct of junior year. I think these may have been done at their HS. Probably not a ton of prep.

First official test, in Dec. of that year for kid 1, Oct for kid 2. Kid 1 is complicated, I'll discuss below. Kid 2 improves by 2.75 vs. unofficial.

Kid 1 would ultimately take the official ACT 4 times (see below), and get some tutoring. Kid 2 would take it twice, with no tutoring (maybe some in-class practice that they did in HS class(es)), and probably a lot less self study than kid 1.

Kid 2's 2nd and final official ACT, the in-school one, in April of junior year, he improved by 1.0 versus first official, and 3.75 versus unofficial. He was done.

Kid 1 had a bit more of a saga. In November of junior year, she suffered a likely concussion, resulting in a lot of mental fuzziness, that was relatively long lasting (months, I think). She was already signed up for the December ACT, and decided to take it, knowing it would likely be a subpar result, but it would be useful practice at least. Unlike kid 2's 2.75 point improvement vs. unofficial, kid 1's first official test matches the unofficial test result - 0.0 improvement.

We sign kid 1 up with a local tutor. Per my notes, tutor charged ~$90 per 2 hour session, 1 session per section, so probably 4 sessions, plus an initial meeting? Maybe ~$400? Kid 1 likes the tutoring, does some side studying, and is recovering from the likely concussion, but perhaps not fully recovered. Is lined up to take the April (junior year) in-school test. The afternoon before the test (~17 hours before the test), she's in a significant car crash, which ends up totalling her car. She's not really physically injured by the accident, but is shaken. She takes the test the following morning anyways, and improves by 1.75. Not bad. But not really enough for the better school(s) she wants.

She takes the test again in June. No tutoring, probably some more self-study. Probably more test familiarity, and less concussion effects. And no car accident. Things are lined up - should improve at least a bit, right? Result? 0.5 DECREASE versus April test. :( :( :(

OK, so, summer is coming, she's about done. The higher end school(s) now long shots. But she decides to take one more shot. September senior year. Not too much prep for this, I think. Result? 2.25 point improvement versus her previous best (April) score, 3 points by the rounded composite method the ACT uses. She gets in to her target school, which had been quite reach-y, IMO, prior to the improved score.

Conclusion? I dunno. There's what amounts to randomness at play?

For kid 3, my guess is unless we'll have her take the test with self-study in the first half of junior year, and unless she aces it, we'll probably use the same tutor as kid 1 used.
Last edited by psteinx on Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

delamer
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by delamer » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:28 pm

Around $600, several years ago.

The program broke up students into groups based on their PSAT scores (the cost to take it is paid for by the county schools). That way, the tutor could target the instruction. A group of 1100 score kids needs a different kind of help than a group of 1400 score kids.

Scores did increase for the SAT. Hard to say what combination of prep and further education caused the rise.

My kids did a bit better on the ACT than SAT.

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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by stoptothink » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:37 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:17 pm
Zero....
+1

A-Commoner
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by A-Commoner » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:38 pm

You don’t need to spend much. In fact, you can spend 0 if you want to. My daughter got a 34 in the ACT (first and only take). This was in 2017. The best prep she did was doing practice tests using previously released actual ACT exams that you can download for free from the internet. Familiarizing with the questions and the pacing of the test by setting time limits to mimic the actual test is very effective. Review your mistakes so you won’t make them again. Do this every Saturday morning for 3-4 months and you should be good to go.

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Regattamom
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by Regattamom » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:52 pm

Thanks for the replies. For those that posted the amount spent and whether it was worth the money, thank you.

I am looking for perceived value of purchased prep courses and tutoring. It's great if you didn't spend anything on prep for your kids, but not helpful information to me. I am changing the topic to reflect that more accurately.

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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by Misenplace » Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:08 pm

This topic is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (how we spend our money).

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jminv
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by jminv » Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:17 pm

Buy a sample of prep books. Physical, not digital. Have them then take a sample test and identify their weak areas. Then buy the books that go more in depth to the areas where they are weak. Retest and evaluate.

There are strategies on how to approach/to answer test questions that all the common books teach. Then you have the subject matter books.

Where a prep course would do well is if the student can't bring themselves to study how to take the test/the materials on the test in an in depth way and systematic way.

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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:18 pm

Regattamom wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:52 pm
Thanks for the replies. For those that posted the amount spent and whether it was worth the money, thank you.

I am looking for perceived value of purchased prep courses and tutoring. It's great if you didn't spend anything on prep for your kids, but not helpful information to me. I am changing the topic to reflect that more accurately.
With respect, if you tell us more about the student, we might have a more informed opinion. Did they take practice tests? How did they do? Are they self motivated, or is having someone help them useful? And so on.

For example, our self starter did well on his first practice test, took a few more practice tests out of books we bought, and got a 2360 (that was back in the day of 2400 SAT) on his first real test.

Our not-so-self starting kid did really sucky on the PSAT; I don’t remember the score. We got him a tutor for the English part of the test (his math was fine). A few hours seemed to help. Got a 34 ACT and something equivalent on the SAT.

Interesting anecdote about the 2360 kid. He had some pressure from his friends to retake and get a perfect score, in part because College Board indicated that his one error on math was an easy question (and it was a draconian curve that session, as usually one wrong results in at most a 20 point deduction). His reply: Admissions Officers always like to brag that they rejected a bunch of perfect test score applicants, so he would dodge that bullet. :D
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Regattamom
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by Regattamom » Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:37 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:18 pm
Regattamom wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:52 pm
Thanks for the replies. For those that posted the amount spent and whether it was worth the money, thank you.

I am looking for perceived value of purchased prep courses and tutoring. It's great if you didn't spend anything on prep for your kids, but not helpful information to me. I am changing the topic to reflect that more accurately.
With respect, if you tell us more about the student, we might have a more informed opinion. Did they take practice tests? How did they do? Are they self motivated, or is having someone help them useful? And so on.

For example, our self starter did well on his first practice test, took a few more practice tests out of books we bought, and got a 2360 (that was back in the day of 2400 SAT) on his first real test.

Our not-so-self starting kid did really sucky on the PSAT; I don’t remember the score. We got him a tutor for the English part of the test (his math was fine). A few hours seemed to help. Got a 34 ACT and something equivalent on the SAT.

Interesting anecdote about the 2360 kid. He had some pressure from his friends to retake and get a perfect score, in part because College Board indicated that his one error on math was an easy question (and it was a draconian curve that session, as usually one wrong results in at most a 20 point deduction). His reply: Admissions Officers always like to brag that they rejected a bunch of perfect test score applicants, so he would dodge that bullet. :D
Creative kid, not STEM focused or gifted, more interested in and spends more time on literature, history, etc. Taking AP classes in English and History. Has a hard time with timed tests. Did not take the PSAT. Not a self starter but will do what is asked with regard to prep. We are not looking to get into the most prestigious schools. Took one practice test at home from the ACT book. Let's just say it wasn't great mainly due to the timed issue.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:02 pm

It’s not easy to get, but if timing is an issue, as it is with many with attention issues or performance anxiety, an IEP might get them a time extension.

This has gotten a bad name for itself because of its abuse by the cheaters in the current scandal, but when used appropriately, there’s no shame in it.

And, fwiw, kids change. Our non-self-starter self-identified as an artist, and the lion’s share of the application was an art portfolio. Jump forward a few years (did I mention that he won’t be a 4 year student? :) ) and he’s a Computer Science major with an emphasis on digital art. Nobody really knew what his native math chops were, even us parents, and it wasn’t for lack of looking. Kids change as they grow; you want them to know they’ll have sufficient runway to achieve takeoff.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

MathWizard
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by MathWizard » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:07 pm

The PSAT may be worth more because that is the National Merit Qualifying Exam.
I got some used PSAT prep books from the library.

My older son refused to look at them, and ended up 94th percentile,
the younger one practiced a bit and ended up 99th percentile , and was a National Merit Scholar.

Both had been taking standardized tests each year which was required to stay in talented . That may have helped hone standardized test taking skills.

A-Commoner
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by A-Commoner » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:45 pm

One simple trick that helps in beating time limits on timed tests is to read the question first. What exactly is being asked? Then you go back to the body of the case and look for clues to the answer. That way you skip over irrelevant material and save time.

As a 50 something physician, I’ve taken many standardized tests in my life. This technique I’ve described above is the most effective (in my experience) in beating time limits. Repeated practice also helps.

almostretired1965
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by almostretired1965 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:37 pm

Obviously it's been a long time since I took them (~ 1982), but I've always been of the opinion that the key is just practice, focusing on your weak areas. It's been a while, but I knew, for example, from taking the PSATs that my weakness was entirely in verbal, and literally, it was my vocabulary. If I knew what the damn word meant, I almost always picked the right answer. During the year before I had to take SATs for real, I just borrowed exam guides from the library and did the practice tests over and over again, as well as reviewing vocabulary books. Raised my verbal score 120 pts. Can't recall if tutoring was widely available back then, though even if it were, I didn't know anyone taking advantage of that, not that my parents had the money to pay for one.

What I don't know is if logical reasoning, of the mathematical or verbal variety, is your weakness, is that something tutoring can actually address in a short period of time? Or is it all just "test taking" tricks?

HereToLearn
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by HereToLearn » Sat Oct 19, 2019 5:03 pm

Regattamom wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:37 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:18 pm
Regattamom wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:52 pm
Thanks for the replies. For those that posted the amount spent and whether it was worth the money, thank you.

I am looking for perceived value of purchased prep courses and tutoring. It's great if you didn't spend anything on prep for your kids, but not helpful information to me. I am changing the topic to reflect that more accurately.
With respect, if you tell us more about the student, we might have a more informed opinion. Did they take practice tests? How did they do? Are they self motivated, or is having someone help them useful? And so on.

For example, our self starter did well on his first practice test, took a few more practice tests out of books we bought, and got a 2360 (that was back in the day of 2400 SAT) on his first real test.

Our not-so-self starting kid did really sucky on the PSAT; I don’t remember the score. We got him a tutor for the English part of the test (his math was fine). A few hours seemed to help. Got a 34 ACT and something equivalent on the SAT.

Interesting anecdote about the 2360 kid. He had some pressure from his friends to retake and get a perfect score, in part because College Board indicated that his one error on math was an easy question (and it was a draconian curve that session, as usually one wrong results in at most a 20 point deduction). His reply: Admissions Officers always like to brag that they rejected a bunch of perfect test score applicants, so he would dodge that bullet. :D
Creative kid, not STEM focused or gifted, more interested in and spends more time on literature, history, etc. Taking AP classes in English and History. Has a hard time with timed tests. Did not take the PSAT. Not a self starter but will do what is asked with regard to prep. We are not looking to get into the most prestigious schools. Took one practice test at home from the ACT book. Let's just say it wasn't great mainly due to the timed issue.
If your child is willing/has time to sit and take a full-length practice for both SAT & ACT, have him take both (different days), and draw a line where he ran out of time but allow him to finish the section. When you are grading, note the scores timed and untimed. Practice will help with the timing issue, as long as the student is not having trouble with the content. If a lower score is a function of both content and timing, ask him which of the two exams he prefers, assuming his scores were comparable. You can search for SAT/ACT Concordance Table to see comparison. Once you commit to ACT vs SAT, see if you can find a reasonably priced tutor who will work with your child on the areas where he needs assistance.

One of my children prepped with a semi-private tutor at home (my child and one other with one tutor). I cannot recall the price now, but it was in the range of the prep courses, but moved at a customized pace. The other child just used practice tests I downloaded from the internet. Both ended up with similar scores (2300 & 2360) but the first one dedicated a lot more time arriving at that score. There is a point where tutoring is of little use and practice is what is required to nail the timing.

I should add that both of mine took the SAT before the recent format change, where mastering the timing of ten sections was more important. Regardless, familiarity with the exam format and types of questions is a huge help on these tests. Best of luck.

welldone
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by welldone » Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:24 pm

If your child is self-motivated to study for the SAT and/or ACT, then paying for the prep courses is probably a waste of money. If your child has trouble motivating themselves to prep for these types of tests, I think outsourcing the motivation can be worth the money.

Our oldest knew that test prep wouldn't become a priority unless there was outside motivation and we happily signed her up for test prep. There was an "unlimited" plan for $1200 - she was able to take PSAT, SAT and ACT prep for that amount (and could take/retake the classes as often as she wanted). It basically gave her a class once a week for 10-12 weeks before she took a test to learn test taking techniques and take each test multiple times under actual test conditions.

It also allowed us to not make testing taking a source of tension - our oldest is responsible with assistance (signing her up meant she went to the classes and did the required homework) and we knew she was as prepared as she could possibly be. If we had left prep up to her (or tried to oversee it personally) - it would have been incredibly stressful for her. For our family, $1200 was money well spent. She did quite well on the tests (after prep), took each test just once (for real) and got the scores she wanted.

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Regattamom
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by Regattamom » Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:52 pm

Thanks to everyone for the replies. I appreciate the thoughtful input.

sawhorse
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by sawhorse » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:00 pm

I got a 1600 on the first try. No test prep classes. I took some practice tests, and I think that was helpful. You need to get the actual College Board practice tests. There is no substitute for the real thing.

I also tutored some local kids, and their scores all rose considerably. I tutored only using the real tests.

I think a good tutor can make a difference for kids who have some aptitude deficiencies. I'm not sure it can raise a 1570 to a 1600--a lot of that is randomness and luck on the particular day--but it can raise a 1300 to a 1350.

I would be wary of hiring expensive tutors. I probably could have charged $100 an hour but chose to only charge $15 an hour. This was about 10-15 years ago. There are good inexpensive tutors out there who really enjoy it.

Bacchus01
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by Bacchus01 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:13 pm

Around here there are some reasonably inexpensive prepr courses (<$100). My son felt they really helped prepare on how to take the test, not really with any content itself. He scored a 32 on the ACT. I don’t know if the prep helped him or not, but it certainly did not hurt.

Big Dog
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by Big Dog » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:31 pm

Regattamom wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:52 pm
Thanks for the replies. For those that posted the amount spent and whether it was worth the money, thank you.

I am looking for perceived value of purchased prep courses and tutoring. It's great if you didn't spend anything on prep for your kids, but not helpful information to me. I am changing the topic to reflect that more accurately.
It really depends on your kid and their goals and learning style. Some kids need the classroom/tutor as motivation. Others can study well on their own.

But note, even the best class/tutor is not gonna teach an average (IQ) kid to be able to clear 1500/33. Ain't gonna happen since such kid does not have the raw processing power. If your goal is that high of a score, a class is probably not the best as they teach average kids -- those in the 900's hoping to clear 1000 or those in the 1000 range hoping to clear 1200. Sure, they try to break up the sections so they are score appropriate but your kid will still spend a lot of time in class listening to the instructor explain how to solve a problem that your kid already knows.

For kids aiming high, I'd recommend a combination of self-study and a tutor.

Big Dog
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Re: What did you spend on prep courses for SAT/ACT?

Post by Big Dog » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:35 pm

Regattamom wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:37 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:18 pm
Regattamom wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:52 pm
Thanks for the replies. For those that posted the amount spent and whether it was worth the money, thank you.

I am looking for perceived value of purchased prep courses and tutoring. It's great if you didn't spend anything on prep for your kids, but not helpful information to me. I am changing the topic to reflect that more accurately.
With respect, if you tell us more about the student, we might have a more informed opinion. Did they take practice tests? How did they do? Are they self motivated, or is having someone help them useful? And so on.

For example, our self starter did well on his first practice test, took a few more practice tests out of books we bought, and got a 2360 (that was back in the day of 2400 SAT) on his first real test.

Our not-so-self starting kid did really sucky on the PSAT; I don’t remember the score. We got him a tutor for the English part of the test (his math was fine). A few hours seemed to help. Got a 34 ACT and something equivalent on the SAT.

Interesting anecdote about the 2360 kid. He had some pressure from his friends to retake and get a perfect score, in part because College Board indicated that his one error on math was an easy question (and it was a draconian curve that session, as usually one wrong results in at most a 20 point deduction). His reply: Admissions Officers always like to brag that they rejected a bunch of perfect test score applicants, so he would dodge that bullet. :D
Creative kid, not STEM focused or gifted, more interested in and spends more time on literature, history, etc. Taking AP classes in English and History. Has a hard time with timed tests. Did not take the PSAT. Not a self starter but will do what is asked with regard to prep. We are not looking to get into the most prestigious schools. Took one practice test at home from the ACT book. Let's just say it wasn't great mainly due to the timed issue.
ACT is first and foremost a speed test, particularly the science section (which requires no knowledge of science). Your kid might do better on the SAT where speed is not so critical.

dollarbillz
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by dollarbillz » Sat Oct 19, 2019 9:38 pm

Different perspective here:

I worked at Kaplan while I was in college (2001-2005). Started as an ACT and SAT instructor. Taught all sections. Became the lead ACT/SAT instructor at our center. Took the MCAT, did well, went on to teach MCAT during my last year of college (all sections) and ultimately became the lead MCAT instructor as well. I was asked to stay on during medical school but frankly there just wasn’t time for that. It was a great job to have in college - paid very well, looked great on my resume, and allowed me to refine public speaking, teaching, communication skills which I believe benefited me greatly.

As for the courses, I would say pass. The instructors, more or less, read from a script. They are told exactly how to teach, and given very little freedom to stray from the pre-written materials. This isn’t bad, but it does mean that a self-motivated student would do just as well or better going at his/her own pace self studying.

When I worked there, we had some instructors that were great, others that were not so great. Some had a hard time answering students’ questions or teaching anything that wasn’t explicitly laid out in the instructor materials. Others could have been professors. Most of them were college kids (our center was in a college town, so that’s probably why. I think in other locations, a lot of the instructors are high school teachers looking to make some extra money). In any case, the courses are expensive, and probably not worth it.

My personal recommendation: pay attention in school. Get good grades. Read a lot (don’t underestimate the impact of reading on standardized test scores. Math and science can be crammed to a point, but reading/vocabulary/reasoning skills are often learned over time. Encourage a lot of reading). Identify trouble areas early. Study solo from test prep books. Get a tutor if necessary. Finally, do well and get a job at Kaplan to make a few extra bucks in college :)

I’m happy to answer any specific questions if you have them. My Kaplan days were a LONG time ago, and much may have changed, but I am happy to give you my perspective.

fwellimort
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by fwellimort » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:09 pm

I've taken both SAT/ACT for college [to get into Columbia Univ] in the past so I'll talk from my personal experience.
SAT 2: Math 2C, Bio E, Bio M, Chem, Physics
SAT: 2360/2400
ACT: 36/36
I recall when I took the SAT, most of the time was spent memorizing vocabulary terms. Seemingly worthless words like "marsupial" and what not. It pretty much felt like I was wasting my time memorizing a dictionary (just to ensure I get the last 4~6 vocab questions correct). I believe SAT since then has changed ("dumbed down") much and is no longer such a time waster.

Anyways, the SAT and the ACT exams are quite different from each other.
1. SAT seems more reading focused while ACT is more math focused: those good at math can really take advantage of the section called "Science" since it's actually just reading basic graphs.
2. SAT questions require more thinking while ACT questions are basic/straight forward.
3. Because ACT questions are more straight forward, it's more of a speed exam than anything.
4. ACT scores are much easier to improve from the average (with studying "just a bit"). SAT scores tend to be more consistent on each exam and not as easy to improve overall.
5. At the top end, because SAT is out of a bigger scale, it's much easier to be consistent with the SAT than with the ACT. Someone scoring around 2280~2340s would be scoring in between 32~35: 32 being 2060 and 35 being 2300.
6. It is much easier to get a "perfect score" with ACT than with SAT. ACT's 36/36 is a bit fuzzy because the scoring is "rounded" from 4 sections. A 36/36 might mean having a 34/36, 36/36, 36/36, 36/36. So is 36/36 a "true" perfect score? I don't know and honestly, I don't think universities care either cause a 36 is a 36 on their US News ranking site. [in other words, it's much much easier to get a "perfect score" with ACT than with SAT]

I recommend your child sit down on both practice tests and pick the one he/she is most comfortable with. I recall favoring the ACT format despite scoring worse: SAT at the time was 2280 while my first practice ACT was 27/36 (1810/2400). However, after my third practice test with the ACT, I did routinely score in between 33 to 36. So again, let the child decide which exam to study. One of the two exams regardless of the scoring should feel more of "this makes sense" to the child.
First few practice test ACT scoring: 27/36, 28/36, 34/36, 35/36. From there (especially at 34), has more to do with luck than anything to get a 36. More practice doesn't even really help anyways. Just go straight to official prep book and take the damn test. Don't waste time. Scores from 34 are pretty damn random. On a bad day you get 32. On a good day you get 36.

With that said, I personally do NOT recommend tutors. I experienced them first hand and most if not all are quite worthless.
The only part I see a "good" tutor work well is the Writing section. Writing is hard to improve by yourself and generally needs good guidance (or simply being exposed to lots of 'good writing'). If your child is not familiar with exam style writing, it can help to have a tutor for such.
Most tutors basically spend their "time" making your kid take a timed practice test while playing with his/her phone. Then, they regurgitate on A FEW wrong answers what the answer is and give a half baked answer (exam books give at least a paragraph per question. These tutors themselves try their best to make sure the child does not improve quickly to get as much $ as possible). Either that or the tutor just keeps talking about the "basics" and make the kid solve exams on top of exams without any real review.

Other than that, tutors generally are very inefficient at increasing your score. They basically regurgitate the answer key ... without the proper description/approach the answer key states.
What I recommend is, grab SAT/ACT books with LOTS and LOTS of questions. Then, solve each section with 5 minute less ALL TIMED and then review the answers that were wrong/iffy 4 times. The answer keys tend to be very well explained (especially the OFFICIAL test book) and if the child is diligent, can dramatically improve his/her own score after just a few practices.
I would say even if the child got the question wrong by "mistake": e.g. 5 + 4 = 12 instead of 9, to make the child REDO the question at least 4 times. Doing so ingrains the child the potential mistakes he/she can make and also forces the child to focus harder next time.
I recall in my first ACT practice test (27/36), I spent a good 6~7 hours trying to understand my mistakes. Once your child gets familiar from REVIEWING how the test works (and the type of questions they ask), the test becomes much easier to game (still very difficult. These tests are curved end of day so don't let anyone here tell you the tests are easy. They aren't.).

Tips for the ACT specifically:
1. For the science section, tell your child to not read anything. You are always going to be asked about some generic volcano, pH, weight, line/bar graph. Just go straight to the questions and solve backwards for the Science section. Most questions tends to be data based and will be like 'Consider Experiment 2 at 30 degrees for NaCl, the volume approximated would be...": the science section can literally be gamed because as long as you have broad knowledge over the sciences, you will quickly then go to the "Experiment 2" line graph and find x-axis of "30 degrees", Key of "NaCl" and then see the y-axis for that.
I recall doing this from my first ACT practice test (and was able to score 35/36 in the first try with 23 minutes to spare): it also shows how poorly I did on all the other sections to get a 27/36 average.

As for other sections, I recommend just going the standard path for both the SAT/ACT sections. In other words, READ then SOLVE. These weird tricks of "scan through questions first then solve" never made much sense to me. Just read. My brain is quite simple and when I'm reading a passage, I'm reading. I don't know about you but all my life I have built a habit of reading books without having questions ahead of time like, "what happens in the middle? What happens in the end? What happens if <character> ever goes to the restroom?".
I feel all these weird strategies like read first and last sections or read questions first are all marketing gimmicks. I'm sure whatever your child naturally does is the strategy he/she is most familiar with and probably the strategy he/she honed most of his/her academic life.

For ACT, I recommend the following guide to performing well:
0. [For students who have no exposure to standardized tests]: Go through the basics of the test format. I didn't do this due to exposure to SAT but if the child has no experience with standardized test, would help to understand the topics included on the exam. Princeton Review: Cracking the ACT is good for this. Honestly, Princeton Review in general seems to be good at making looong introductory explanation. (if child has exposure to standardized testing, skip this step or scan through the book while visiting the bookstore then letting the child decide whether he/she needs to do so or not)
1.
If the child did Step 0, take first exam from Princeton Review: Cracking the ACT. Make sure to time the exam 5 min earlier on EACH section. This is critical as in a real test setting, students tend to be slower. Grade the test and review EACH AND EVERY incorrect answers at least 4 times. Also, let the child review through the questions he got right by reading the "answer description" for each question. In addition, it helps if your kid put some symbol on questions he/she was not fully confident on.
The answer keys are VERY VERY well written and well worth the time reviewing. Also, if the child grades by him/herself, the child learns what score he/she is currently receiving and how many more questions he/she needs to get right.
Also, skip the writing portion. Writing timed essays without knowing how to write only enforces poor writing. So on all these practice tests, IGNORE the writing for now. The essay portion should be studied separately (hence the most difficult one to actually improve without some guide).

If the child did NOT do Step 0, go straight for a book with lots of tests. e.g: 1,511 ACT Practice Questions. Do the same by solving 1 full exam.
2.
Once the child FULLY reviews the first exam (the review should be MUCH MUCH longer than the actual test): I mean a "thorough" review, not a "quick glance".
Then solve the first exam from The Official ACT Prep Guide 2019-2020. This is the real exam feel. The child should now understand how the test really works.
Make sure to FULLY review this. The Official book from ACT (like the Blue Book for SAT) is the BEST practice tests you can get. It has I found overall the BEST explanations, REALISTIC questions, and REALISTIC scoring. Unfortunately, there's only 5 tests so don't abuse it.
3.
If your child did Step 0. Finish all the exams on Princeton Review: Cracking the ACT. Review each section. If your child is struggling with Science, according to the internet, "For the Love of ACT Science" book is a godsend. Apparently it's a really great book to help students with lower science score hit up to 30's. If for English, apparently "The Complete Guide to ACT English". For Reading, apaprently "For the Love of ACT Reading".
4.
Finish Princeton Review: 1,511 ACT Practice Questions. Review each section.
5. Open the Official ACT Prep Book again and finish 3 more exams. Don't forget, each exam --> spend time to review.
6. From here, if your child feels super confident, just finish the last test in ACT Prep Book and just keep reviewing (and hopefully, the exam date should be close so the child doesn't forget his/her skill but don't pressure kid at same time - you dont want kid burning out last second - ).
Otherwise, up to your kid. At this point, just ignore all those big books and look for books with LOTS of practice tests. That's all you really need. Practice tests + answer key to review thoroughly. If there's any section your kid does not feel comfortable in, study that section more by finding specialized books.
I know I loved the Barron's 6 ACT Practice Tests and its explanations when I was bored waiting for actual exam date but up to your kid. Apparently 5 lb. Book of ACT Practice Problems is rated much higher. But you get the idea.

Depending on your child's proficiency, just the Princeton's 1,511 ACT practice questions and the Official Prep might be enough with thorough review.
Just know ahead of time that if your child is hitting 32, from there, I noticed 32~36 is quite random on non-official books (with a rare 28 that randomly pops). Non-official practice exams are all over the place at the higher end of scale but they are still good practice.

fwellimort
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by fwellimort » Sat Oct 19, 2019 11:30 pm

I mean look at how the answers are written on the practice tests (found a random picture on the web)

Image
No tutor has the time to actually say that much per question. There's just no time.
Books on their explanations often have at least 1 paragraph PER question on ALL the sections. You can really see how well the books are written. Especially the Official Prep book.

I really really REALLY encourage studying without a tutor outside maybe the Essay portion.
All my peers who scored "well" (2250 and above) all believed a tutor was a hindrance more than anything and that self studying was the way to go.

I felt personally that ACT could be studied in a week which was weird cause with a tutor on the SAT, I felt all the time in the world was not enough to raise even a bit (and in case you are wondering, I started from 1340~1480. Granted I was shoved in a cram school in middle school cause my parents didn't know what to do with my older siblings attending the cram schools themselves. I recall I made 0 improvements from the cram school).

It took me forever with a tutor to increase the score by 140 points. It was much much easier to improve the scores to the upper range of 99th percentile alone.
With the SAT it took me 2~2.5 weeks.
With the ACT it took 2~3 days.

I felt that the main take back from the ACT/SAT was supposed to be to help a child learn to self study (and how to game tests) to prepare for college exams. Once your child attends college, there won't be a tutor. And please don't be like one of those parents that sends their children to cram school in the summer even during college years. Your child needs to learn how to learn him/herself.

As for the Writing portion, to be quite frank, lots of reading (not Goosebumps but books like "an SAT Vocabulary novel" e.g. Rave New World that are fun to read), and some guidance is probably the best way to go. Don't give your child "classics" or whatever. Your child should be exposed to books he/she likes to read but has more advanced vocabs OR more advanced grammar/writing structure: Jojo Moyes books, Mitch Albom books, etc.
The simple 5 paragraph format should be good for ACT/SAT. Read all the perfect scores from Prep books. And practice timed essays. Other than that, lots of review of essay afterwards (rough draft -> rough draft -> rough draft -> final draft). And.. well, hopefully some external guidance from school teacher or whoever cause writing is really really hard to improve alone especially during high school.
[your kid should become comfortable with 5 paragraph essays. Generic intro paragraph rephrasing the questions and 3 examples mentioned. 3 bodies that somewhat mentions the main topic + explaining each example and how it relates + self reflection + closure and final paragraph that sums it all up and is basically a regurgitation of intro paragraph (worded differently to not seem the same)]

Hope some of my sayings were of some help. Now, if you choose to go with a tutor, fine with that too. Just understand from my experience (and over 20 other friends who scored 2250 and above), none of them believed tutors were of any help.
Tutors though are great help for students in the below average and around average though. But like previous Boglehead replied, no level of "good tutor" will send a kid to 31+. From there, It's really the student than anything else.

smectym
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?,

Post by smectym » Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:31 am

Every kid is different. But if your kid comes to you with eyes glowing, convinced that such and such a prep course is the way to go in order for him to ace the SAT, if you can afford it, and after talking with him about it, probably pay for the course.

But you need to make sure that the course is right for your kid. I taught Princeton Review when I was in graduate school at UCLA In the 1980s. Most attendees weren’t high-achievers looking for just the little extra edge that would to get them into Stanford. A lot of them were ESL; they were Korean or Chinese; they were hard charging and hard-working, but they were looking to bring their verbal up from 500 to 550. I enjoyed coaching those kids. But a kid taking AP classes and looking to bring his scores from 700 to 750 wouldn’t have been well served in that classroom. Whether on-line classes narrow or erase that problem is open to question.

Minty
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by Minty » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:00 am

We spent $1,000 on Revolution online for one of our kids and she went up about 10 percentiles. Our other kid refused to take a prep course, took the test 5 times, and went up 10 percentiles. I'd say a prep course is worth it. But everyone is different.
Core Four with nominal bonds and TIPS.

bryansmile
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by bryansmile » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:45 am

My child improved from 1270 to 1470 out of 1520 points on PSAT by self studying, using 3 SAT prep books (on reading, writing and math separately), spent $80 total. Like one poster said, the prep books have answers to all the practice problems, with very detailed explanations. He did not do well with timed tests but was very motivated. He studied 3 hours a day, 5 days a week consistently over the summer, and still had lots of time for fun.
Frankly, with these standardized tests, it's not the money you spent that matters, but the work you put in.

zlandar
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by zlandar » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:12 am

If your child is motivated enough to go through a SAT and ACT prep book and take several practice exams then that’s the cheapest route. Just as good as the classes IMO.

zlandar
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by zlandar » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:12 am

If your child is motivated enough to go through a SAT and ACT prep book and take several practice exams then that’s the cheapest route. Just as good as the classes IMO.

michelef
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by michelef » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:41 am

Oldest son did a group test prep. I wasn't impressed. When asked, he told me he thought it was unnecessary and I did not do the same for his younger brother.

Younger brother:
I read blog and watched videos on Green Test Prep site, which I found helpful in coming up with a plan for him to study. Index card suggestion was good.
Bought two books (one for reading and one from grammar) for under $50 which were highly rated on Amazon and helpful.
Khan Academy SAT prep for free and especially helpful to practice for math section. You can also take a picture of SAT bubble answer sheet, upload it and Khan will score it in a few seconds.
Print out free College Board official tests from online site for timed practices.
Used the summer before junior year to prepare and took first two offered tests in the fall.

Oldest ACT 33, Youngest SAT 1510.

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F150HD
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by F150HD » Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:24 am

OP - worth noting....

Oct. 8, 2019 at 10:04 a.m. CDT
Next September [2020], students dissatisfied with their ACT scores will be able for the first time to retake a selected portion of the college admission test without having to repeat the entire exam.


Students will be able to retake sections of ACT next year — without repeating entire exam

SchruteB&B
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by SchruteB&B » Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:46 am

I will add a response as the parent of a more average ability, not very motivated student, paying for test prep was absolutely worth it, particularly in a straight financial analysis. All of the colleges our student was considering (private regional and 3rd tier schools) had very clear Net Price Calculators that showed what increasing an ACT score by a certain number of points would do to increase the merit awarded. So we paid $1500 for private one on one tutoring at a local prep center, approximately 40 hours worth. Overall the ACT score went from a 25 to a 31 and that increased the amount of merit award from around $8,0000 per year to around $12,000. So for $1500 we got costs reduced by an additional $16,0000.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sun Oct 20, 2019 11:17 am

SchruteB&B wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:46 am
Overall the ACT score went from a 25 to a 31 and that increased the amount of merit award from around $8,0000 per year to around $12,000. So for $1500 we got costs reduced by an additional $16,0000.
That’s quite an improvement. Stated another way, your student went from a 78th percentile to a 95th percentile. That had to feel good. :D
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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rocket354
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by rocket354 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:23 pm

With that said, I personally do NOT recommend tutors. I experienced them first hand and most if not all are quite worthless.
The only part I see a "good" tutor work well is the Writing section. Writing is hard to improve by yourself and generally needs good guidance (or simply being exposed to lots of 'good writing'). If your child is not familiar with exam style writing, it can help to have a tutor for such.
Most tutors basically spend their "time" making your kid take a timed practice test while playing with his/her phone. Then, they regurgitate on A FEW wrong answers what the answer is and give a half baked answer (exam books give at least a paragraph per question. These tutors themselves try their best to make sure the child does not improve quickly to get as much $ as possible). Either that or the tutor just keeps talking about the "basics" and make the kid solve exams on top of exams without any real review.

Other than that, tutors generally are very inefficient at increasing your score. They basically regurgitate the answer key ... without the proper description/approach the answer key states.
What I recommend is, grab SAT/ACT books with LOTS and LOTS of questions. Then, solve each section with 5 minute less ALL TIMED and then review the answers that were wrong/iffy 4 times. The answer keys tend to be very well explained (especially the OFFICIAL test book) and if the child is diligent, can dramatically improve his/her own score after just a few practices.
I really really REALLY encourage studying without a tutor outside maybe the Essay portion.
All my peers who scored "well" (2250 and above) all believed a tutor was a hindrance more than anything and that self studying was the way to go.
I think a lot of what was said in these posts were valuable, but as a former test-prep tutor I must respectfully disagree on a couple points.

First, a lot of test-prep instructors/tutors are just college kids who did well on the tests themselves, and are handed a few materials and told to "go get 'em!" You will see a wide range of effectiveness, but almost universally, see inexperienced tutors/instructors.

As well, a lot of high-scoring kids--ones who are trying to go from 95th percentile to 99th percentile, for example--may likely be both self-motivated and self-aware enough to guide their own practice and see effective results.

That said, tutoring can be very effective for any type of student if the tutor is knowledgeable, experienced, and effective (i.e., patient, understanding of student psychology, adaptable, etc.).

I was a private tutor for over a decade. I tutored for SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. I specialized in the math portions, but could handle all areas as needed by the student. What a tutor will do that a student on their own may find difficult is not just identify areas of weakness, but the underlying cause of that weakness. The tutor can then address those areas specifically, give lots of guided practice that done correctly can build up the student's confidence, and develop those areas into strengths.

A book can let you know someone's, for example, "bad at geometry questions," but a quality, dedicated, one-on-one tutor can root out whether the cause is, say, visualizing the problem, or translating to an appropriate algebraic expression, or perhaps it's the more fundamental underlying manipulation of the algebraic expression that is the issue, and focus on exactly that area using the proper approach until the student gets it.

When I did test prep, I recommended at least few month's worth of lead time since it would never be clear how much time was needed. One to 1.5-hour sessions two or three times a week at most. Students who try to do more are cramming and will not see additional results, just additional stress. I would then generally (everything is student-dependent; that's the value of one-on-one tutoring) spend the first half of our allotted time not even looking at any tests or test questions. We would just do math, starting from the beginning--arithmetic--and building from there as I would identify any and every area of weakness even in the most fundamental of skills. If the student was quite capable we would progress quickly to the points where they started to falter. If the student had holes in their knowledge, they would be identified and addressed in the proper manner.

They would also get practice. There was no playing on my phone during a session as most of the "practice" would be assigned homework to the student for our next meeting.

Over these sessions I would learn a student's strengths and weaknesses, and know exactly what they could or could not do.

Only after their entire math curriculum has been refreshed and, in some cases, rebuilt, would we look at tests and test questions. Then I would evaluate what they're good at and, psychologically, what they can deal with. A lot of students don't really get that they don't have to even understand every question to do well. Knowing that it's all right to see a question you have no idea about, and to just skip it, can be a huge confidence boost.

Once I had a great idea of their general math competencies, and their test-taking skills, the final stages were optimizing the student to their test. Strategies (if you're not sure how to begin a question within 10 seconds, move onto the next question; ones you think you might know but aren't sure mark and come back later; once there's one minute left drop everything and fill in any blank answers at random before time is called); Playing to their strengths (if a student, say, could never wrap their head around probability, have them auto-skip probability questions and fill them in at random at the end); and practice, practice, practice until they felt as home with the test in front of them as possible.

All told, I had great success as a tutor and really enjoyed it. I had kids struggling at the low percentiles (10-15) who would then jump past 50 and get that athletic scholarship they were gunning for. I had kids who were prodigies who just wanted that perfect score or just to get a head-start on calculus before they began...high school.

I would not accept group sessions, even if offered more money. I'm a big believer that the most effective way of teaching is focused one-on-one where the instruction can be tailored to the student. Group lessons are more cost-effective, but to truly get results sessions need to be focused on the individual.

If you can find a good tutor that is, which is its own can of worms.

getthatmarshmallow
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:10 pm

Familiarity with the course material does increase scores. Whether one needs paid-for test prep, especially if the student is motivated, is a separate question. I took it once in 10th grade and did moderately well (13-something back in ye olde days) as part of some program for accelerated kids. My dad thought preparing for the SAT was cheating. My mom ignored him and we checked out an SAT prep book from the library, and I hid it under my bed, and improved my score 250 points. Can't say that would work for everyone (I took the GRE cold and pulled at least 95%le on everything, so standardized tests are like games to me.), but at least worth a library card.

biscuits
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by biscuits » Sun Oct 20, 2019 2:58 pm

This was twenty years ago, but our daughter raised her SAT scores 100 points after taking a prep course (Princeton or Kaplan--sorry, I can't remember) that ran every Saturday morning for about 8-10 weeks at a local college. She was very motivated to raise her scores (they were a bit under the wire for her dream school), worked hard in the course, and felt that she learned valuable test-taking techniques.

She wound up getting into her dream school early decision, and has been very successful in her dream career, and I look back on that money (and the Saturday mornings) as well-spent.

thomase
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by thomase » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:03 pm

I went through this twice recently myself with my two kids. Neither took prep courses, but we did get them SAT/ACT prep books. Both scored near perfect scores on SAT/ACT. From discussing about their school friends and my co-workers, the prep courses make a difference if the student scores low or middle of the range. If the kid is already scoring very high then the prep courses won't help. Self motivation makes the biggest difference. Take practice tests and PSAT to know where the student stands first.

NJdad6
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by NJdad6 » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:16 pm

Depends. It really comes down to the kid. If someone is dedicated and focused on improving, these courses can help. If not, it is a waste of time and money.

Some courses are better than others. Best bet is to talk to people locally and get recommendations. We decided to go with private tutors for our kids. Slightly more expensive but they are targeted around specific weaknesses/areas for improvement. First kid had an almost perfect ACT score. Working with #2 now.

SAT/ACT scores are something you should invest in. Most merit scholarships are based on this. Spent maybe $2000-$2500 on prep and received well over $100k in merit scholarships to a top rated “southern ivy”.

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Regattamom
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by Regattamom » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:40 pm

Thanks again to everyone for your replies. Lots of different ideas and perspectives and all very thoughtful.

I think we will look into finding a mature tutor with years of experience for some one-on-one tutoring while also practicing from the book.

Elysium
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by Elysium » Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:35 pm

Regattamom wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:40 pm
Thanks again to everyone for your replies. Lots of different ideas and perspectives and all very thoughtful.

I think we will look into finding a mature tutor with years of experience for some one-on-one tutoring while also practicing from the book.
We have a HS age kid who has taken practice test without any prep and scored pretty high, but not enough to get to his dream score which is in the high 1500's. He feels confident he can improve the score by 100 without any outside prep, but we have decided to sign up for some coaching, just about 5-6 weeks to improve some of the areas and give a test this winter. I believe he has the ability to score almost perfect score, but he is not likely to sit down and work hard enough for that. Things come easy for him and he likes to enjoy his free time, so he will likely aim for a score above 1500 with few weeks of classes at a prep center.

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Random Musings
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Re: SAT/ACT prep courses worth the money?

Post by Random Musings » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:08 pm

For the exam to get into grad business school, I just bought one practice book and took the tests. Basically, it provided me a range that I would most likely fall in during the real test, which I ended up doing ( on the higher side of the range). Since I was old when I took the test (33), you kind of know what you know at that point in life. What the practice book did provide was basically eliminate most of the stress when taking the test. Since I was working, the goal was to score to get into CMU, which I did. 98 percentile in math is kinda pedestrian there :oops:

RM
I figure the odds be fifty-fifty I just might have something to say. FZ

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