Why Bother With Test Prep Anyway?
(A) Your test score is the easiest thing to change on your college application, so it’s worth taking some time to improve it.
You may not love standardized tests but, really, compared to other things in life–like raising kids, fixing your golf swing, free-styling rap, even raising your GPA–improving your SAT1 score is relatively easy.2
That doesn’t mean that you can snap your fingers and raise your score 300 points. Nope. I mean that, if you analyze what you’re doing right and wrong, take the time to learn useful techniques and strategies for taking the test, and then practice them until they become second nature… you really shouldn’t have much difficulty raising your SAT score by 100-250 points.3
So, since an extra hundred points on the SAT can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, or thousands of dollars in merit aid and none… doesn’t a course that can help you significantly improve your score seem like a wise investment?
1. For convenience, I’ll just say SAT here, even though I mean the ACT, as well.
2. Yes, I used golf and rap in the same sentence. Wow.
3. True, my students often do much better than that but, to be honest, it’s hard to predict 250-400 point improvements.
(B) If you work at improving your test score, it will go up.
For some reason many, many kids buy into the myth that their SAT score is set in stone, like their eye color or their blood type, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Well, that idea is seriously messed up.
Every test you’ve ever taken requires that you study for it, right? So, why would you not study for a test that counts for 15-30% of your college application? Yes, the SAT don’t look much like a regular high school exam, but that means there’s even more reason to study for it. You need to get comfortable with the format and the content of the test before you take it. You need to practice the techniques and strategies you should use on standardized tests. You must know when to answer questions and when not to answer them (well, you should always fill in your bubbles, but should not waste time working hard on every question), when to reap and when to sow!
If you know what you are doing, then you are in control of your test, and you will be an efficient test-taker and maximize your chances of getting the best score possible. If you prepare intelligently and take the ACT or SAT multiple times, your score will surely improve. If you work really hard, chances are it will go up a lot.
(C) If your SAT score goes up, you have a much better chance of earning thousands of dollars in merit aid.
To induce prospective students to attend their schools, almost all colleges offer merit aid based on brain-iness, not financial need. No kidding: once they accept you, they use your grades and standardized test scores to help determine how much yearly merit they will offer you. Thus, extra points translate into extra (thousands of) dollars. Thus, in the end, a strong ACT-SAT prep course should pay for itself many times over.