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Wouldn’t the SAT and ACT be easier, if you could solve every math problem using 4th grade math skills?

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Wouldn’t the SAT & ACT be easier if you could solve every math problem using 4th grade math skills?

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9 SAT & ACT Prep Myths

Every once in awhile I feel like I’m losing the war on educating the public about the SAT, and the benefits of SAT & ACT preparation. I’ll explain. Not every week (but often enough to make me sit down at 10:30 pm and type out this article) I’m made aware of bits and pieces of well-intentioned advice or council forwarded to me from parents. It usually starts like this, “Well I heard that…..” Most of the time what follows is unfortunately incorrect.

Most of the errant information falls into 9 categories (listed below as “myths”). In an effort to set the record straight, I decided to write this article to address and eliminate these myths once and for all.

9 Myths….

1. Kids should take the SAT or the ACT for the first time in March of the junior year, or the fall semester of their senior year, and it‘s really not possible to significantly improve their scores.

If there is a problem, shouldn’t the parents know about it as early as possible? I try to be proactive. If I had my way, every student would take the SAT 3 times in their junior year (November, December, and March) in conjunction with our SAT/ACT Prep course. This would accomplish several tasks. First it would identify problems (if they exist). Using my system, these problems would be discovered with ample time to address the problem (an entire year - allowing students to work on these deficiencies in an evenly paced, methodical, calm manner to get the score they need). On the other hand, if the student’s score is at an acceptable level, he avoids the pressure felt by seniors seeking a certain score in the fall of their senior year.

2. Colleges are not overly concerned about the SAT or ACT scores in determining admissions.

While this may be true at technical colleges, and junior colleges, most accredited 4- colleges rely on the SAT or ACT scores to measure students against their peers in order to determine admission standards. Believe it or not, your student’s GPA does not necessarily do a very good job at measuring their college potential. More accurately, lower GPA students are not penalized by a lower GPA if their SAT or ACT score is higher. Possibly for reasons outside of their control these “would be” strong students are punished for not being focused during a point in their high school career. Think of the impact a divorce, (add relocation, sickness, laziness, et al) could have on bringing down both the GPA, and Class rank of an otherwise good student. The SAT and ACT tests attempt to level the playing field and measure students within a fixed timeframe (typically 12 -18 months), on a set of standardized skills ~ to see what these students can remember about what they were taught. These tests allow colleges to objectively measure your student’s scores against their peers ~ and serve to identify students who can not remember what they have learned.

3. It’s not beneficial for students to take the SAT or ACT more than once or twice.

This is completely untrue. The SAT especially should be taken multiple times as it allows students to combine their highest Math, Evidenced Based Reading and Writing scores from any test. If a student only takes the SAT once or twice, they have little, if anything, to combine. Consider a student that takes the SAT 6 times. He secures his highest Math score on the 1st test (let’s say a 600). His Evidenced Based Reading & Writing Score is highest on the 6th exam (also a 600). His reported SAT score would be an 1200 Math and Critical Reading combined - even though he never achieved this score on any single test. The ability to combine your highest Math and Evidenced Based Reading & Writing scores is why we suggest multiple test opportunities (assuming you are enrolled in our SAT/ACT Prep Course). Multiple retakes without the benefit of a course like ours is a dubious exercise at best.

4. A student’s SAT/ACT test score will be reflective of his GPA.

The SAT tests a student’s ability to read and think critically; testing 6 specific skills. If a student cannot perform these 6 skills, his score will be low; regardless of how well he may perform in school. Many students have unbelievable short term memory skills, and secure great grades in high school. Unfortunately, these same students cannot remember what they learned in school (because most of that information was only committed to short term memory), and they get hammered on the SAT/ACT as a result. Of course we stand ready to address this issue.

5. Usually, kids NATURALLY improve their SAT and ACT score by retaking the tests.

College Board (the organization that administers the SAT) is quick to point out that a significant number of kids (almost 50%) fail to improve their scores with additional testing (without professional help like we offer). Also, they have data to demonstrate that the students who manage to improve their score without professional help only see a boost of 20 points or so. Our average score improvement is 100 - 190 points per student, so you can see we are adding significant points to scores.

6. The SAT and ACT are not like regular tests, and can NOT be “prepared for” successfully.

Although many studies show that most courses are ineffective in improving an SAT score, my course guarantees a score improvement. Most students improve between 100-190 points (with 150 points being the most common result). Many students improve 250 points or more. Our course delivers results above the level that College Board would consider to be the norm.

7. A student’s GPA is more important than the SAT and ACT score for college admissions.

You’ve heard the lunch table arguments…. “A 3.2 at (insert your school’s name) would translate into a 3.9 at (insert your cross-town rival school’s name).” Plain and simple, college admissions counselors don’t have the time to try and figure out these nuances for every school in the country. Also, the cumulative GPA system punishes the student who goofs off in the 9th & 10th grades before becoming a serious student. These are two of the most common reasons that college admissions officers overweight the SAT score relative to the student’s GPA and class rank. By design, the SAT is a basic test to measure every student objectively against his peers within a 12-18 month window, and is more important than the GPA at most colleges.

8. Quality SAT & ACT preparation courses are priced above the average family’s ability to pay for the service.

This Myth is actually True in most instances. That said, my course is an exception to this rule. Most private SAT Prep Courses (see Kaplan, Princeton Review, Sylvan, Powerscore, etc.) are all priced around $850 - $1,000. In contrast, I only charge $395 for my course. Unlike other courses, students may retake my course over and over without ever having to pay additional money (regardless of their total improvement), and I guarantee a score improvement. The typical student taking my class improves their SAT score between 100 and 190 points. The system works. From 1997 - present, I’ve taught well over 1,000 students, and only 9 students failed to improve their score the first time through the course. That’s over a 98% first time success rate through the course.

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