Paying for college really starts in high school. All those extra coaches, fees for lessons and expenses for tests are just the beginning of what is yet to come. So how can you manage those expenses so you get the “biggest bang” for your buck? One way is to choose a test prep program that meets your specific needs and allows your dollars to target that purpose. After all, depending on where you live, prep programs can range from $30 an hour for standard tutoring all the way to $8400 for an annual package with some big name companies. Each has their own benefits and drawbacks.
There are basically three different ways to engage in a test prep program. The first is one-on-one tutoring specific to SAT or ACT, the second is a group delivery model and the third is an on-line tutorial which may be individual or group but involves a live video feed. In order to choose one, you need to consider these factors:
1 – Timeline for Preparing – In an earlier blog I wrote about creating a timeline for working from the endpoint backwards. That way you don’t miss deadlines for test registrations or college applications. But as you select a test prep program, be sure you get the specifics about when classes occur, what happens if you miss a session due to illness or other school related obligations, and how does the instructor address your specific needs. Will their schedule fit with yours?
2 – Cost vs. Benefit – What is the overall cost for a program and does it include a practice test? How are practice test results used to structure the prep program or is it a generalized plan? While there are no guarantees on any plan, you want to invest your time and energy in better understanding your own performance and getting the best possible score as an outcome.
3 – Consider Your Learning Style – Do you learn better through visual, auditory or kinesthetic modes? How can you capitalize on other learning modes if your number memory is low? The Highlands Ability Battery helps answer these questions and can assist in making an effective decision for selecting a test prep program, but how do the three delivery models address these modes of learning?
Choosing a test prep program may include conversations with student peers or parent booster groups when attending school functions, but when it comes time to select the one for you, be sure to consider these three factors. If you need more information on the Highlands Ability Battery, contact me. If you need more information about the programs in your home area, contact me. Choose wisely, get the best result possible, and the “biggest bang” for your buck.
If you’ve had a good SAT or ACT prep experience, please comment here to share that with other parents and students.