SAT Test Prep Recommendations

I frequently have clients ask me for SAT Test Prep recommendations.

When I was in high school in the late 60’s, not only did almost no one study for the SAT, but the College Board stated on their website that they had no evidence that test prep classes improved SAT scores.

Now everyone swears by test prep services and the College Board is touting their collaboration with Khan Academy for free SAT Test Prep.  This, at least, is good to hear, because the test prep business seems very eager to take money from worried parents.

I could swear that I still have seen the College Board’s statement denying the effectiveness of test preparation classes as recently as a few years back, but could not find it after a quick scan of their website.  Perhaps they have finally decided to stop fighting the tide, and are at least trying to level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students.

When my daughters signed up for the SAT in the mid 2000’s, Kaplan still sold a very inexpensive CD that could be used for self-study.  This more than sufficed, but I guess they discovered that they could make much more money if they discontinued this product in favor of expensive classes 😉 !

Consequently I have no personal experience with any of the test prep organizations other than reading through the large test prep books that one can get locally at Barnes and Noble.

The advantage of the Internet is that I can turn to my readers and ask them for their experiences.  I would appreciate your feedback by using the Comments section below, but, I have one stipulation.  Please begin your comment by stating that you have no financial connection or interest in the test prep organizations that you mention in your post.  I will state now that I receive no compensation or have any other ties to any of the services mentioned below in this article.

To start the discussion, I have done some research on the Internet, found a few interesting articles, and then Googled for and read reviews of some of the services at other sites.

This link points to an article that summarizes several online services including the free College Board / Khan Academy service.

One comment that came up repeatedly in reviews that I read elsewhere indicated that there was an insufficient number of practice questions in many of these services, particularly since the SAT test has changed recently and vendors were slow to catch up.

I was particularly intrigued by a service called PrepScholar, founded by Harvard alums who scored perfectly on the SAT and/or ACT, and I would like to know if any local residents have tried this service and hear their feedback in the Comments section below.

Please note that the Comments section of this blog is moderated, and submitted comments do not appear until approved.  Comments that do not contain the no financial interest disclosure requested above will not be posted.  The problem with Internet reviews is always the concern that one does not know the relation of the reviewer to the product.  It is always easy to plug products and also trash competitors unfortunately.

I hope this leads to useful feedback for the community and saves parents money as well.

Personally, I find this whole system, while necessary for college admissions, akin to jumping artificial hurdles and refuse to do SAT test prep regardless of how lucrative this could be.  I hear too many stories of parents spending amazing amounts of money on these things, and it saddens me.

I still naively believe that developing a love for learning is the best way to succeed academically, and that is why I returned to teaching after I retired.  The current system is intrinsically flawed and needs to be corrected.  Our kids are frequently driven to distraction by all of these artificial demands on them, and the quality of learning suffers.



Author: David Kristofferson

Retired Ph.D. scientist, teacher (after retiring from industry, taught in private and public high schools and then worked a decade in my own private tutoring business), bioinformatician (managed both the NIH-funded GenBank National Nucleic Acid Sequence Databank and the BIONET National Computer Resource for Molecular Biology), IT director at Eos and Raven Biotechnologies, software product manager, AAAS Fellow, avid cyclist, and backpacker!

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