The SAT Reasoning Test is an exam that students need to take to obtain entrance into college in the United States. It is a standardized test that has been designed and developed by the College Board in this country. Students need to study very hard to take and pass this test. The scores not only determine if they will be able to attend the college course of their preference but it also determines which college will accept them.
There are various methods of preparing for the SAT and one of them is through taking SAT prep courses. There are a number of these courses available but they not created equally. Some are good quality while others are not and may lead to a person believing that they are more prepared than what they are. Even for the good courses, there are pros and cons to taking them. These pros and cons depend on the SAT prep courses and on the person taking them.
Pros of SAT Prep Courses
There are a few definite pros of SAT prep courses if a person takes the right one. In order to benefit properly however, the student also has to do the work.
Organization and Structure: Studying alone without guidance can be overwhelming. The SAT prep courses give structure to the way of studying and presenting the information. They are designed to provide extra organization especially for individuals who don’t know where to start. The courses not only give structure and organization for the information but also to the scheduling of the studying and teaching.
Intense Instruction and Study: Students that take the courses seriously complete their homework, attend the courses and pay attention to what is going on. This is not an easy task. The best SAT prep courses are intense and they really make the mind work. The courses range in time and severity. Those that last five weeks or more and last for several hours a day tend to be the best ones.
Reality Check: Taking the right course can give the person a reality check in more than one way. A person who doesn’t believe that they can make college can realize their potential through these courses. On another wave of thought, a person who believes they are more than prepared may come to realize that they have to study harder. In either case, it can be a motivator for extra study and for better things in life.
Convenience: This factor does not apply to all SAT prep courses but it does apply to those online. The online courses are available from many different institutes and are happening at almost any period of time during the year. This makes them convenient and practical.
The Cons of SAT Prep Courses
There are a few pros to taking these courses but it is also important to look at the other side of things. The cons can be the deciding factor for some students. This being said, the negative side of the argument, at least to some extent, does have some solutions available.
Payment: These courses can be very expensive depending on the one that is chosen. A person might be able to find one for less than $100 but generally speaking, these courses run up to over $500 and can even cost over $1000. Many people cannot afford these or put themselves into debt to be able to pay for them. Smaller groups with more personalized tutoring reach up to $2000. Individuals on a budget are recommended to check with their local college concerning free prep courses.
Inequality: The inequality may seem part of life, but some people can afford extra time with the courses or extra tutoring, while others cannot. The costs of these classes and the extra tutoring is not regulated and therefore only offer the more privileged people the opportunity to take advantage of them. If a person wants this extra study and preparation help, they also need to be prepared for some courses or instructors to take advantage of this desire.
Expectations: There are many different SAT prep courses and as previously mentioned, they aren’t all created equally. Some of these courses will raise a person’s hopes about obtaining a lot of assistance with their preparation but receive very little and as a result, perform poorly on the exam. This is an unfortunate consequence of these courses being so competitive – the advertisers are willing to go very far with their promotions and may exaggerate the potential of the course.
Travel: There aren’t always reputable courses in the area where a person lives thus forcing them to travel. This is not always convenient for every lifestyle and may even hinder them from taking the course. This being said, there are online courses but a person has to be very wary as to the quality behind the course.
Locating Good Quality SAT Prep Courses
With all of the pros and cons concerning these prep courses, it can be difficult to decide whether or not to attend them. There are some steps that can be taken to ensure that the course is designed with quality and success in mind.
Reviews: Before signing up for a course, the student is advised to check with students who have taken that same course. This will give some insight as to the quality of teaching and the actual course. Checking the success rate of the students from each of the courses is also a good idea.
Official SAT Websites: There are a number of websites that offer listings for reputable schools offering these courses. The website www.collegeboard.com is a site that offers information about preparing for the SAT as well as facts about courses. Another site is www.consumerwebwatch.org. They have provided a review of ten online SAT preparation services for those who are interested.