Choosing SAT Prep Courses

Matt Larriva
Feb 12, 2012
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Why You Should Know “MORE” About SAT Prep Courses

Twenty years ago, the SAT was like a vaccine: a brief painful requisite for attending college. SAT prep courses were in a nascent stage, and were a considered a useless luxury on par with bottled water. Twenty years later it seems the test-prep industry has morphed into a luxury industry on par with Italian  cars — the only problem is most people can’t tell the difference between a Fiat and Ferrari. Parents know that SAT prep courses are important — the SAT counts for as much as a third of students’ applications — but they don’t know how to differentiate: on price; reputation; friends’ recommendations? There is a better way to determine the best SAT prep course for yourself or your child:

Just look for MORE: Methods, Outcomes, Results, Economics.

Method: Examine the method of the company.

If the program cannot clearly articulate this, then they don’t know. The method consists of three basic points: the curriculum, the teachers, and the adaptability. The least important is the teachers. Every great athlete, musician, and mathematician has a teacher who is less intelligent or talented than the pupil. What’s important is that the teacher has something worthwhile to say, not that the teacher is more talented than the student. So teachers are less important than the curriculum. The curriculum must be sound, tested, and proven. It must include homework and it must be primarily based on actual test questions. Basing a SAT curriculum around scholastic topics instead of SAT problems is like learning to cook by interviewing a blacksmith in the hopes that he’ll teach you how to make a knife, and you can use that knife to prepare food. It’s roundabout at best. Last: the adaptability of the method must be ingrained. If a teaching method has no adaptability then it is condemned to be limited: redundant in some parts and too difficult in other parts. So look for SAT prep courses with proven curriculum, engaging teachers, and adaptability.

Outcome: Outcome is the most important factor in a SAT program.

It is the only criterion you should purchase on. A SAT preparation course must demonstrate a history of successful outcomes. If a SAT course does not proudly display their average point increase you should walk the other way. It would be like a surgeon not hanging their Medical School diploma in their office. If they have something to hide, so do you: your wallet. Ask your SAT prep courses provider to show you a record of average point increases, and points-gained-per session. If they are not tracking this, or they won’t show you, move on.

Reputation: Reputation in all things is important.

And in a world as digitally talkative as this one, there is no reason your SAT prep courses company should not have many reviews on Yelp, Google Places, or simply word of mouth. In addition, your program should not hesitate to provide you with many references. Ask for references from people in your situation. If your student is scoring in the 90th percentile, ask for references from other students who began there.

Economics: The courses must be worth the Economic value (cost to you)!

If you’ve found SAT prep courses with a stellar reputation, a foolproof method, and an epic outcome-record, but you’re going to have to stop eating to pay for them, then it’s not worth it. Scoring well on the SAT is a shortcut to brighter futures, but it is not the only way. Should you elect to prepare for the SAT without help, you will be taking the harder path, but by no means an errant one. Choose a program that fits your budget, and whose value is apparent.

Considering SAT Prep Courses? See Powerful Prep’s Method