Today we have a guest post from Jennifer Cohen, the President and Chief Word-Nerd at Word-Nerd.com SAT Vocabulary Prep.
If you hang around online college admission forums, this particular question seems to come up often. There’s no doubt that the SAT and other college entrance exams have become big business. Students are bombarded with advertisements constantly – I’ve even heard that sales people from prep companies lurk outside of SAT test centers to catch students coming out of the exam! The abundance of classes can make it seem like every college bound student is taking them. Students may find themselves begging their parents to shell out hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for these classes. The good news is that motivated students can absolutely do their college entrance exam prep at home with a minimum of expense.
It’s true that classes do have some advantages. A live instructor can answer student questions, and keep students accountable for doing their homework. But as a former instructor, I found that most students neither asked questions nor completed their homework! Add the expense, and it’s entirely reasonable to steer yourself or your kids toward home preparation. Parents can furnish an element of accountability at home, and offer help when needed.
There are excellent SAT books available for $25 or less. The only essential is The College Board’s Official Guide, better known as the “blue book,” which includes ten actual SAT tests. This is the best resource available for practice questions, and you can get answer explanations online. Add in a strategy guide of your choice, and you’ll create your own course. Don’t forget SAT vocabulary review, like Word-Nerd!
If self-paced work isn’t realistic, consider private tutoring. This can often be cheaper than courses, and you can get personalized help (check out Wyzant.com for tutors in your area). You can often cut the cost even more by getting together a group of friends for small group tutoring. Another option is an online course. There are dozens available, most at a fraction of the cost of classes. Some offer live tutoring to answer questions as well.
If you feel that a course really is going to be best, don’t immediately gravitate to “big test prep” – you know which companies those are! Often smaller, or local companies, provide great prep for a lower price. Many schools are now offering courses on campus, as well, so they may be a possibility. Just keep in mind a one-day Saturday class at a high school is not a substitute for weeks or months of preparation at home!
Remember that there are options if you are willing to put in a little effort. The good news is that you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to achieve a good score!