Because SAT scores can really influence the quality of colleges that a high school graduate can be accepted to, scoring well on the SATs is important. There are a number of premium colleges with strict cut-offs, and almost all of them agree that SAT standings do count for a lot when making their decisions.
Enterprising individuals have taken note of this fact, and so for several years now, SAT preparation courses have become a rather lucrative industry. Because students graduate from high school every year, there is no shortage of reviewers hoping to win a slot at the college of their choice. But are SAT study classes really worth the time, money and effort? According to several studies: yes.
The benefits of SAT prep courses
In the mid-90s, a College Board study compared test takers who studied on their own and those who enrolled in SAT study classes. Results revealed that on the average, those who went for study classes scored about 10 points higher in verbal tests and 20 points higher on math than those who went for self-study. Similar results were registered by a 2009 study conducted by the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
When it comes to costing, SAT study classes can be expensive. But for parents and students who are hoping to gain entrance to highly selective colleges and universities, it is very much worth the investment. Also, there are some colleges which award scholarship grants based on SAT scores, which raise the stakes significantly.
This 30-point rise in SAT student scores could very well spell the difference between acceptance and rejection, or a much-needed college scholarship or tuition subsidy.
Are SAT study classes an absolute must?
Admittedly, there are students who do very well for themselves without enrolling in SAT preparatory class. For the most part, these are the ones who have good study habits, the ability to manage their time effectively and responsibly, and a mature sense of organization or prioritization. It also pays to have a parent, or a guardian who closely supervises progress, and keeps the motivation to study high. Unfortunately, the majority of high school students do not really fit these criteria—especially since preparation should ideally begin by junior year.
Another advantage of enrolling in SAT study courses is that the student gets to pick up valuable testing strategies aside from the core academic stuff. Testing strategy, while it can never replace stock knowledge, can really help when coping with the pressure and stress, especially for rigorous timed examinations like the SAT.