What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

ACT/SAT Prep

Our Counselors Answered:

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

Helen Cella

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

Practice questions. It is worth paying for a class if you are not self motivated.

Nina BerlerFounderunCommon Apps

SAT Prep

This is a subject close to me, as I’ve often provided SAT prep and SAT advice to my students. The best way to prepare for the SAT is by doing tons of real questions, so students are advised to use no other prep materials but those marketed by the College Board (i.e., the big blue books). Why? The College Board repeats the same types of questions over and over again, and it definitely has pet words, topics and geometric shapes! Not every type of SAT prep works for every student, and there are many providers out there. The person or company hired should first examine your PSAT or previous SAT scores to establish a baseline and set goals. Group sessions can be worthwhile, but what they lack is a focus on the particular needs of the student – both subject matter and learning issues. Whoever delivers the training must really understand the mindset of the test maker and deliver value in terms of an ability to explain how to eliminate unreasonable answer choices, for that’s at the heart of a strong performance on the SATs as well as the SAT Subject Tests. Students mature as test takers during a high school, and their scores should naturally improve. However, no test prep provider should promise astronomical gains.

Annie ReznikCounselor/CEOCollege Guidance Coach

Increased Exposure Improves Scores

Self-disciplined students can manage test preparation without outside support from a tutor. Paying for assistance can be useful for students who need someone else to establish a plan, deadlines, and structure for preparation. The best way to ensure strong standardized test performance is to take a challenging high school curriculum. More so than achievement in individual classes, demanding schedules predict strong SAT performance. However, at the time that students begin to fret over standardized tests there isn’t much room for adjustment in this area. Leading up to your first SAT or ACT, emphasize repetition in your preparation. Just like a crossword puzzle or the game show Jeopardy!, the style of inquiry is more challenging than the content. Increasing exposure to the style of a standardized test will improve the outcomes. Most test preparation companies and individual test tutors focus on simulating the test environment. But, students shouldn’t feel compelled to take the SAT or ACT over and over again. Rather, repeat the style of questions in specific skill groups through at-home practice questions. One excellent College Board resource is to the Skills Insight tool which enables students to practice skills in a desired test-band range. Visit the site for more details: http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-skills-insight

Jessica BrondoFounder and CEOThe Edge in College Prep

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

A study method worth paying for is one that has proven results. I woud say the top 2 things every student should purchase are the College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide and Real ACTs and then depending on whether you prefer private tutoring, a classroom setting, or an online program, opt for something tailored to your needs.

Rebecca GrappoFounder and presidentRNG International Educational Consultants, LLC

SAT and ACT Prep – Is it Worth the Time and Money?

Few letters strung together like “SAT” or “ACT” can conjure up as much fear, anxiety, and dread in a student as these! Students hear the hype about college admissions and think that their very future depends on their SAT or ACT score. In some ways, they are right – but in other ways they are very wrong.

When applying to highly or very selective colleges, the SAT or ACT score is one of several critically important factors in the admissions process. If this is the goal, then yes, every point might count. Yet many other highly selective colleges and universities have gone “test optional” and no longer require standardized testing at all. Still other less selective colleges and universities do not require scores that reach the stratosphere, and will look at a student for his/her potential and motivation to learn more than they look at the test score. The standardized test score is just one component of what colleges are looking for.

So when it comes to SAT/ACT preparation, is it worth the time and money? It depends. The Times Union in Albany , New York, had an article this morning about the effective of test prep. In it, they quote the College Board, creator of the SAT, as saying that test preparation will not dramatically raise scores, and the Princeton Review has been pressured by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus to drop the claim that their “Ultimate Classroom” SAT prep class will be able to raise scores by 255 points.

What is a student and parent supposed to think with this kind of information? Does this mean it’s just not worth the time and money to even try to prepare? I personally think that yes, a student should prepare for these standardized tests, and that they should take them, even if they apply to a school that is test optional. They can decide later whether or not to submit the scores. “Better to have it than not” is my motto. But I also think that students and parents need to be reasonable about their expectations (expect improvement but don’t expect miracles), and be wise and strategic in how the student prepares.

I have a variety of SAT and ACT preparation materials on my website under resources – college. Some resources listed are free, and others are fee-based. My advice to students is first of all, know yourself. Are you motivated and disciplined enough that you can study by yourself? If so, there is plenty of free help out there. Do you work well in a group that is led by an instructor with an approach that fits the average student taking the class? Then take a class. But perhaps the most effective method to prepare is to know how you learn, what you need to improve in order to perform better, and how to attack the standardized test strategically. If the family can afford it, I highly recommend private instruction with well-trained and professional SAT/ACT tutors. A true professional really understand the test, how it works, how to strategize to take it, will administer a diagnostic test to assess the student’s strengths and weaknesses, and then customizes instruction to meet the student’s individual needs.

As with everything else in life and college applications, be reasonable. Everything is best in moderation. I advise the students I work with to make a plan, do their best, be informed, but to not let the SAT or ACT rule their life. It does not define who the student is. Instead of investing too much time in test preparation, students should be finding their passions, doing their best in academics, and contributing to their school communities in other positive and meaningful ways. That’s how they will really get the desired college’s attention!

Ellen [email protected]OwnerEllen Richards Admissions Consulting

A strong academic curriculum

As is the case with anything in life that is worth pursuing, nothing can better prepare a student for college admissions tests better than long term, intensive preparation. Students should take the most challenging course load they can viably handle and learn academic skills intensively throughout their education. Last minute crash courses can not make up for the in depth training that the tests are meant to gauge. Additional advice: 1) Save your money and start your child off on the right track from the beginning by fostering a love of learning and a desire to succeed in school. 2) Use only authentic test preparation materials made by the makers of the test. SAT materials can be found at www.collegeboard.com and ACT materials at www.actstudent.org. Often you can obtain these materials at not cost. 3) Avoid high priced test prep that promises increased scores. Research shows that students rarely increase their scores significantly, regardless of how much they prepare. 4) Opt for individual tutoring in specific areas of weakness rather than large classes that include students who are at varying levels of understanding in different areas – this can confuse students who are behind in certain areas or bore students who are way ahead in others. 5) Realize that test instruction should be tailored to the individual student, not the test. Study skills and general test taking strategies should be automatically infused into any individual coaching you pursue. The most important aspect of test preparation is familiarity with the test format. Knowing what to expect ahead of time is the most simple and straightforward way to maintain an edge in anything a person pursues.

Tyler BurtonPresident Burton College Tours

Part of your homework.

Make a schedule for SAT prep that is included in your nightly homework. Before you launch into a test prep regime, take a complete SAT to determine your areas of strength and weakness. If you can afford it a private tutor may be the best approach to fine tune your skills. Many night programs as public high schools offer a test prep course for much less than some nationally recognized test prep companies. If you are not a test taker then visit fairtest.org for a growing list of competitive schools that are going test optional.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

What Works Best For You?

There are lots of ways to prepare for the SAT: self-study, SAT classes, individual tutoring, and combinations of all these methods. First ask yourself — how do you learn best and most efficiently? Do you like studying on your own and do you have the discipline to follow a self-designed study schedule? Are you able to learn most efficiently and effectively in a group lecture setting? Do you prefer one-on -one tutoring? Many students find that they prepare best when they commit to a combination of these methods. SAT classes are great — but without self-study at home, they might not be that effective. Self-study can also be useful but where do you go if you have questions? Individual tutoring may be helpful — but it can also be quite cost prohibitive. You might want to receive tutoring on the portion that you find more difficult. There are many online and in-person options available. You can always go to your neighborhood bookstore or library to check out a SAT study guide. In addition, there are also many new apps available that make your SAT study goals more readily achievable! No matter which method or methods that you choose, however, the bottom line is that you have to devote time and quality effort into this endeavor. That’s really the only way to prepare.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

What Works Best For You?

There are lots of ways to prepare for the SAT: self-study, SAT classes online, SAT classes in-person, individual tutoring, and combinations of all these methods. First ask yourself — how do you learn best and most efficiently? Do you like studying on your own and do you have the discipline to follow a self-designed study schedule? Are you able to learn most efficiently and effectively in a group lecture setting? Do you prefer one-on -one tutoring? Many students find that they prepare best when they commit to a combination of these methods. SAT classes are great — but without self-study at home, they might not be that effective. Self-study can also be useful but where do you go if you have questions? Individual tutoring may be helpful — but it can also be quite cost prohibitive. You might want to receive tutoring on the portion that you find more difficult, and then use a study guide or group classes for the remaining portions. There are many online and in-person options available. You can always go to your neighborhood bookstore or library to check out a SAT study guide. I always recommend getting the study guide prepared by the College Board — since they are the ones who prepare the SAT. In addition, there are also many new apps for your phone available that make your SAT study goals more readily achievable! No matter which method or methods that you choose, however, the bottom line is that you have to devote time and quality effort into this endeavor. That’s really the only way to prepare.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

What Works Best For You?

There are lots of ways to prepare for the SAT: self-study, SAT classes, individual tutoring, and combinations of all these methods. First ask yourself — how do you learn best and most efficiently? Do you like studying on your own and do you have the discipline to follow a self-designed study schedule? Are you able to learn most efficiently and effectively in a group lecture setting? Do you prefer one-on -one tutoring? Many students find that they prepare best when they commit to a combination of these methods. SAT classes are great — but without self-study at home, they might not be that effective. Self-study can also be useful but where do you go if you have questions? Individual tutoring may be helpful — but it can also be quite cost prohibitive. You might want to receive tutoring on the portion that you find more difficult. There are many online and in-person options available. You can always go to your neighborhood bookstore or library to check out a SAT study guide. In addition, there are also many new apps available that make your SAT study goals more readily achievable! No matter which method or methods that you choose, however, the bottom line is that you have to devote time and quality effort into this endeavor. That’s really the only way to prepare.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

What Works Best For You?

There are lots of ways to prepare for the SAT: self-study, SAT classes, individual tutoring, and combinations of all these methods. First ask yourself — how do you learn best and most efficiently? Do you like studying on your own and do you have the discipline to follow a self-designed study schedule? Are you able to learn most efficiently and effectively in a group lecture setting? Do you prefer one-on -one tutoring? Many students find that they prepare best when they commit to a combination of these methods. SAT classes are great — but without self-study at home, they might not be that effective. Self-study can also be useful but where do you go if you have questions? Individual tutoring may be helpful — but it can also be quite cost prohibitive. You might want to receive tutoring on the portion that you find more difficult. There are many online and in-person options available. You can always go to your neighborhood bookstore or library to check out a SAT study guide. In addition, there are also many new apps available that make your SAT study goals more readily achievable! No matter which method or methods that you choose, however, the bottom line is that you have to devote time and quality effort into this endeavor. That’s really the only way to prepare.

Helen H. ChoiOwnerAdmissions Mavens

What Works Best For You?

There are lots of ways to prepare for the SAT: self-study, SAT classes, individual tutoring, and combinations of all these methods. First ask yourself — how do you learn best and most efficiently? Do you like studying on your own and do you have the discipline to follow a self-designed study schedule? Are you able to learn most efficiently and effectively in a group lecture setting? Do you prefer one-on -one tutoring? Many students find that they prepare best when they commit to a combination of these methods. SAT classes are great — but without self-study at home, they might not be that effective. Self-study can also be useful but where do you go if you have questions? Individual tutoring may be helpful — but it can also be quite cost prohibitive. You might want to receive tutoring on the portion that you find more difficult. There are many online and in-person options available. You can always go to your neighborhood bookstore or library to check out a SAT study guide. In addition, there are also many new apps available that make your SAT study goals more readily achievable! No matter which method or methods that you choose, however, the bottom line is that you have to devote time and quality effort into this endeavor. That’s really the only way to prepare.

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Test Prep: Make the Choice that Works for You

There is no one right way to prepare for standardized tests, but given the reality of the ever competitive application process, it almost imperative that a prospective applicant undertake some form of test preparation. As to which is best, a lot depends upon a student’s learning style. Some need the formal classroom like approach, while for others a computer program might be the best way to go. Meanwhile, one-on- one tutoring might be best for someone else. The approaches, not to mention the costs, vary widely, but if one wants to compete effectively , it is definitely in their best interests to undertake some kind of advance preparation.

Laura O’Brien GatzionisFounderEducational Advisory Services

Practice

Every tutor I have spoken to has stated that the best way to prepare is through practice. Sign up for the free questions of the day. Purchase a prep book. Take as many exams as possible under test-taking conditions. All of these strategies are cost-conscious ways to prepare for the test and they are effective methods but you have to really be self-motivated. If you know that you will not study then considered taking a prep course.

Zahir RobbCollege CounselorThe Right Fit College

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

The best way to study for the SAT is to practice. You can find full length practice tests through the college board website or in their SAT practice book. Take a few timed tests and you will see a difference in your scores. Furthermore, take the PSAT every chance you get. Be careful with expensive prep programs as a number may not deliver on what they promise. I would start with some prep at home and see how you are progressing. Review problems you missed on the PSAT using My College Quickstart and take it from there.

Andrew BelascoCEOCollege Transitions LLC

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

It is important that students simulate the conditions they will encounter on test day. I advise my students to access/purchase several practice tests, set aside approximately four hours each Saturday morning on the weekends leading up to test day, and as much as possible, attempt to complete each section of the practice test in the amount allotted to actual test-takers. This approach to preparation requires a significant investment of time, but it also pays big dividends in the form of higher test scores and better admission prospects. It also saves families money. I genuinely believe with little money (to spend on test prep materials) and a lot of drive, students can maximize their “SAT potential.” That being said, there are a lot of students who benefit from a class or private tutor. For example, students lacking sufficient motivation or who struggle with a particular section often increase their scores after receiving assistance from a test prep professional. Ultimately, students need to honestly assess their willingness and ability to prepare. If students suspect they’ll benefit from additional help, they should pursue affordable options (online course or classroom course) before opting for more intensive (and expensive) interventions, like private tutoring, for example.

George MillsVice President for EnrollmentUniversity of Puget Sound

Challenging courses prepare one best for the ACT or SAT…

The best preparation for the SAT or the ACT is to take challenging courses over the entirety of your high school experience. During your sophomore year the PSAT, offered by the College Board, or PLAN, offered by the American College Testing Program, can be helpful in pointing out areas of strength and areas which need more work.  When planning to take either test the best preparation should involve taking practice tests. These are available on line or through bookstores. Take the tests, grade them and work on areas where your scores are not as strong as you would like.

Jill MadenbergIndependent Educational ConsultantPrivate Practice

Commit to the preparation of choice…

Whether you elect to take a class, hire a tutor or review study books yourself, the single best way to prepare for the SAT is to commit to the preparation of choice.  So many students sign up for a class or pledge to work on their own but they do not follow through nor do they provide themselves with test-taking conditions to prepare.  It’s worth it to pay for the right class or instruction if you are committed to the assignments and homework.  Plan to study for 6-8 weeks leading up to the exam and really focus on the SAT.  Summer is a great time to study if you plan to take an early test in the fall. 

Nitin SawhneyDirector of Tutoring ServicesMarks Education

Read and practice!…

The SAT has three parts: Critical Reading, Math and Writing.  If you’re trying to strengthen the Reading and Writing parts, the best work you can do this summer is to read difficult 19th and very early 20th century British and American literature. You should also be working on vocabulary.  Marks Education’s online vocabulary games and quizzes, free for anyone, are the best in the business. Marks Education’s free online vocabulary quizzes and games are located here: http://markseducation.com/onlineresources/index.asp. Finally, if you haven’t already done so, purchase the College Board’s “The Official SAT Study Guide”.  This book has 10 actual practice tests that are the closest thing you’ll find to the real test.  

Nancy GriesemerFounderCollege Explorations LLC

Boost test scores by reading…

If you don’t do anything else this summer to prepare for standardized tests, make time to READ!  And I don’t mean Teen Cosmo or Sports Illustrated.  Get reading lists from key classes like AP History, Literature, or Language.  Even if you’re not taking AP’s, find out what books you’ll be required to read next year.  Ask friends who’ve completed the classes or possibly contact your school to borrow some texts.  Regardless, reading eases transitions and boosts those scores.  But if great works of literature don’t work for the beach, try magazines.  Look for journals or read popular culture articles in The New Yorker. 

Jeannie BorinFounder & PresidentCollege Connections

Choosing Test Prep help…

The best way to prepare for the SAT is to get some strategic advice, obtain individualized guidance and take practice tests. Many students take test prep courses which are good for learning about the test, the timing, various sections, and how it is graded. Individualized tutoring help can be most effective because the student’s errors are carefully analyzed so that similar mistakes are not made on the actual test. Online practice tests are the most cost effective and in some cases provide excellent guidance.  The E-prep Program is unique in that a video screen appears that explains a student’s mistakes and clarifies the questions. Information and discounted rates are here: http://college-connections.com/online-test-preparation.html

Marjorie GoodeFounderStart Early: College & Career Planning Service

Prepare within your budget and you can still find success…

Frugal, yet effective methods I tell my counselees to pursue during the summer are test taking time management strategies, a review of their responses on the PSAT, and read more. Learning how to pace oneself for the exam can eliminate the error of spending too much time on questions that should be skipped; but instead, having sufficient time for questions that are comprehensible. Reasonably priced SAT manuals can be used to take a practice test with self-monitoring. If necessary, ask someone to control the clock for you. Review your PSAT answer summary and correct your incorrect responses. Evaluate obvious problem areas; for example, omitted questions at the end of sections indicate you ran out of time.

Rachelle WolosoffFounderCollegeSearchExpert.com

Don’t just sit around! Be proactive in preparing for the SAT!…

For a start, check out Collegeboard.com and join the site. Look for Question of the Day at http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day. Take full practice exams…as many as you can take. Remember: Practice does make perfect. You will see some of the same questions repeat themselves. READ! READ whatever you like and I promise you, your vocabulary and comprehension will grow. If you are a visual learner, a great site to access, to learn vocabulary in a fun and exciting way, is to go to www.vocabvideos.com. As they say, they bring vocabulary to life. My students love this inexpensive tool.

Craig MeisterPresidentTactical College Consulting

Practice with official tests–but also have a Plan B…

The SAT, which covers critical reading, mathematics, and writing skills, is often the most dreaded part of the college application process; yet, it need not be. The Official SAT Study Guide (TM): Second Edition, published by the makers of the test, is a great resource for the self-directed student. It includes ten full-length practice tests, answer explanations, and tools to figure out your score. Best of all, it costs less going to a movie. If you are unhappy with your scores after taking the real SAT, there’s always the ACT. It may be a better test to demonstrate your strengths.

Susie WattsCollege ConsultantCollege Direction

Test prep may be more important than you think…

Test prep can improve your scores on the SAT and ACT.  I recommend students use the books published by the College Board and ACT.  These are as close to the real tests as you will get.  Read how to approach each test and learn the basic test-taking techniques for the SAT and ACT.  Take a test each day, time yourself, check your answers and review the questions you missed.  You can find affordable, effective test prep in your area by going to Google and typing in “SAT and ACT test prep” and your city.

Patricia YoungIndependent CounselorCollege Advising Services

SIMPLE, CHEAP, EFFECTIVE!…

There are simple, inexpensive ways to prepare for the SATs during these lazy, unscheduled days of summer. First off, begin to read the Editorial/Commentary page of your family’s daily newspaper faithfully.  Not only will you force yourself to concentrate on each published piece, but you will also learn something about the larger world. It’s a discipline to focus on each written piece and will help with your concentration during the SAT’s. Another inexpensive way to prepare is to go to your public library to check out test preparation materials. If you cannot borrow or beg others’ preparation materials, you can always go online to Amazon to order used-books.  Lastly, write, write, and write about anything. 

Jane GabinCollege CounselorNew York City

Critical reading is critical SAT prep, so READ!…

For the critical reading section of the SAT, there is absolutely no substitute for habitual reading.  Students who make a practice of steady reading — newspapers, biographies, mysteries, non-fiction, science fiction, short stories — invariably do better on this portion of the exam than students who only cram for the test.  This is not something than can be left for the last minute.   Reading should be fun, relaxing, and a treat—if you do some reading on a daily basis (and look up unfamiliar words) you will see a difference in your score.

Jenn CohenOwnerJenn Cohen Tutoring

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

I get asked this question more often than any other, and it’s very tough to answer! There is no one best approach for everyone, which is why talking to a pro is a good place to start. Some (rare) students are able to grab the College Board Official SAT Study Guide and prep themselves. For others, SAT courses can work very well, but be sure to look for those that use the College Board book as a text. It’s the gold standard, so insist on it! Many students don’t consider tutoring because they think it will be too expensive. The truth is that your test prep dollar can stretch much farther with a tutor. A student is getting the instructor’s undivided attention so you can do much more in less time. It’s the only way to get individualized instruction, and an investment now can pay off in better financial/aid and scholarships later.

Betsy MorganFounderCollege Matters LLC

There is no such thing as testing osmosis…

Know thyself! That is the key to finding the best test prep for you. If you are amazingly self-motivated, you may be fine with a free online study guide such as number2.com and the College Board question of the day. A social learner? A prep class with others is probably the way to go. Nervous Nellie? I suggest one-on-one tutoring. But remember, the best way to prepare for standardized testing is by doing sample problems – many, many sample problems. If you are counting on osmosis to do the trick, save your money!

Megan DorseySAT Prep & College AdvisorCollege Prep LLC

Invest time and effort in your choice of prep program…

As an educator with 18 years’ experience in test prep, I find it promising that you are thinking ahead to the PSAT and SAT!  That’s good news—no matter what approach you take, your effort will be the key to a strong test score.   Official College Board questions should be the foundation of any study plan; I like The Official SAT Study Guide and the online “SAT Question of the Day.” Then, supplement with a strategy guidebook from the library or bookstore.  And if you have the budget, ask around to get recommendations for effective prep classes or private tutoring.

Lisa HatchIndependent College CounselorCollege Primers

Picking the Perfect Prep

College entrance exams are controversial. Some perceive entrance exams as unfair and view test preparation as a waste of precious time. But, while many may debate the ability of entrance exams to predict college success and question the fairness of tests that have been shown to favor those in higher socioeconomic groups, the fact is that most colleges and universities continue to consider SAT and ACT scores as part of the admissions package and there’s not much you can do to change that. So, now what? There’s solid evidence that good test preparation does work. A recent national survey revealed that, overall, formal test preparation can result in at least a 30-point increase on the SAT and a one-point increase on the ACT. These increases could mean the difference between acceptance and denial. But how do you know which form of test prep to pick? For almost 25 years, I have been engaged in the process of preparing high school students to take college entrance exams. I started out by offering live-lecture test-preparation courses to rowdy groups of juniors and seniors through community education. After the Internet got up and running, I converted the live-lecture curriculum to a format that was friendly for online users. I have also written books on test preparation (including the new edition of ACT For Dummies, due for a December 2011 release). My experiences have given me insight into which types of training work best for which students. Before I continue, though, let me reveal my bias. I have not found any reason for students (and their parents) to spend thousands of dollars and gobs of class time to prepare for the SAT, ACT, and other entrance exams. Therefore, I’m not a big fan of expensive and lengthy test prep courses. It’s not that they don’t help you; it’s just that you can get the same (or better) preparation by spending less money and logging fewer hours in a classroom. For instance, for the same tuition that many national companies charge for their test prep classes, a student could enjoy one-on-one attention from a local private tutor. Generally, if you’re pretty self-disciplined and a relatively good test taker, you can adequately prep with inexpensive books and other self-study tools, like online courses. If you need help in one particular area or if you accomplish more with individualized attention, a one-on-one tutoring schedule or small group prep class would be a better bet for you. Ask you friends or school counselors for recommendations. Regardless of the format you choose, you’ll get the most for your money if your prep method includes all of these elements: instruction in how to approach test-taking, including a discussion of how to analyze reading passages and eliminate wrong answer choices; a review of math that includes numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, coordinate geometry, probability, and trigonometry (for the ACT); a review of English usage and punctuation; practice on actual test questions from previous exams with thorough explanations of the answers; and instructors who relate well to students and understand the test-taking process.

Jolyn BrandOwner & CEOBrand College Consulting

“Retired tests” are the only way to KNOW the test …

‘Retired’ tests are actual tests that were used in the past and are now available online. Students should duplicate the setting as much as possible- time the test and take it all in one setting. Retired SATs are available from the www.collegeboard.com store. The SAT and ACT now both allow students to choose which test sitting and scores are sent to colleges so there is little risk to taking the tests several times. Students can raise the scores by studying using free online help. Students who need to raise the scores significantly should seek out test prep programs or private tutors.

Scott HamiltonFounderFuture Stars College Counseling Center

Summer SAT prep…

The type of prep to do over the summer depends on what you have done up to this point and the grade you will enter next year. For a junior, it is best to use the summer to self prep. Two resources that I recommend are www.number2.com (free online test prep) and the book Princeton Review Cracking the SAT. For a senior, if they have not done so already, an SAT preparation class can do the trick (ask around locally for recommendations). If a class was taken earlier in junior year then drilling on what was learned is what is likely needed. A good source for practice tests is the book The Official SAT Study Guide by College Board.

Todd JohnsonFounderCollege Admissions Partners

Prepare for the SAT by practicing the test…

I recommend that students buy the official test guide from the College Board which has 10 actual old tests. Take those practice tests and when you grade your test, pay particular attention to those questions you get wrong. Try to understand the concept behind the question. While the questions are different on each test, the concepts stay the same. If you can understand the concepts you are getting wrong, when you take the actual test, you will hopefully get those concepts right.

Rebecca JosephExecutive Director & Foundergetmetocollege.org

Beat the SAT or ACT: Don’t let them beat you…

Do as many free diagnostic tests as possible (outside of your home) to simulate the real SAT experience. Taking the tests more than once benefits many students as senior year is when students’ scores peak.  Classes and private tutors can help; many tutors work with small groups to save costs. For those whose critical reading scores need to rise: read, read, read. The Scarlet Letter is the best book around to develop your SAT vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. For those for whom testing is a challenge: go to fairtest.org to find great colleges that do not require test scores.

Robin GroelleFounderCollegeCounselling.com

No one does their best without some practice…

Understanding the testing format and having a personal strategy in place before testing are essential.  The College Board has developed an extensive tool in Quick Start which personalizes the practice plan based on your pattern of answers on your PSAT. Skills Insight requires the student to be self-motivated.  For a structured approach, I recommend using a tutor who can tailor the practice to your specific needs.  If this is too costly, then take an online course. Decide what’s best for you and remember to take both the ACT and SAT.  Colleges will accept either and some will even superscore – using the best sections from different test dates.

Gael CasnerFounderCollegeFindEdu.com

Let your learning style determine the best SAT Prep…

If you are a senior and haven’t taken the SAT yet, don’t despair; you have three chances in the fall: October, November and December.   Disciplined, independent learners will want to buy The Official SAT Study Guide from the makers of the SAT or sign up for The Official SAT Online Course, an interactive approach to studying. Both are excellent value for the money. Another terrific SAT prep site that’s absolutely free is www.number2.com.  If, on the other hand, you tend to procrastinate or need a little push, then working with a tutor during August and September makes the most sense.

Jolyn BrandOwner/DirectorBrand College Consulting

Study methods for tests depend on each student

There are many ways to prepare for the SAT: Study on your own Take a test prep course (such as Kaplan) Hire a private tutor To study on your own, students need to be organized and disciplined. They will need to fit studying into their schedule on a weekly basis, between classes, sports and friends. Some companies, such as Kaplan, offer test prep courses. While these can be a good overview of the tests, they normally can’t help students with individual weaknesses. Frequently, they are 20+ students in a room taking a practice test or reading tips. Most of these classes are also taught by college students or someone who just happens to have done well on the test himself. Most do not have a teaching background. The last, more helpful method is a tutor. Hiring a private tutor is not much more expensive than the classes and students can get individualized attention to their weaknesses and areas of concern. Hiring a tutor who is also a teacher is the most beneficial since that person has experience working with students.

王文君 June ScortinoPresidentIVY Counselors Network

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

Chinese students normally spend large amount of time to prep for the SAT exam. they achieved higher score but also penalized for having higher score in general. I believe students and families should consider individual approach to prepre and study for the exam. not all students need prep class and study skill will improve the test itself grealy if implemented as part of the overrall plan.

Deb Kalikow PluckFounder & DirectorNew Path to College

The 3 Best, No-cost Ways to Prepare for the SAT

1) Read a lot of books! Visit your local library to borrow books. Look up every word you are not familiar with and then learn all you can about it. 2) For 4 weeks this summer, set aside 90 minutes each week to prepare. Here are some links to some free downloadable timers to help you stay on task: http://appsapps.info/instantboss.php; http://ticktocktimer.com/; http://timeleft.software.informer.com/; http://e.ggtimer.com/. 3) Examples of free SAT study tool websites: http://www.inlikeme.com/test/preparing-sat-and-act.html; http://sat.collegeboard.org/home; http://www.number2.com/.

John CarpenterFounderAskJohnAboutCollege.com

The Best Test Prep is Often FREE (or at least CHEAP)…

Three things come to keep in mind. One is to work through every problem on your old PSAT test booklet, and then use the College Board resources online to see where you need help. The second is to create a Twitter account and start following test prep tweets. I recently discovered a couple of brilliant resources: @PWNtheSAT and @The_YUNiversity. The third is to check out the apps available on your smart phone. Again, lots of options for math and vocabulary and even test prep itself. Also, check out Debbie Stier’s site http://perfectscoreproject.com It’s one mother’s quest to take the SAT until she gets all 800s!  

Whitney BruceIndependent College CounselorAccpeted.com

Any review method will help if you use it…

There are a variety of methods to review for the SAT and ACT exams, and studies have shown that even familiarity with the test can lead to higher scores.  You can prepare for standardized tests with computer programs, websites, review books, short or long-term courses, or private tutors.  For many students, the greatest barrier to preparation is their own busy schedule.  It’s easy to find other commitments that take a priority over studying for the test.  Regardless of the preparation method you choose, schedule the time for your preparation and stick with it!

Pamela EllisPresidentCompass Education Strategies LLC

Know for thyself before paying for SAT course…

Before investing in any expensive SAT program, students may want to consider a self-study program first. One on-line program that I recommend is ineedapencil.com. The practice questions offered through this site can provide students with an understanding of what the SAT is testing and which questions require more of their attention. If students try this method first and find that they are unable to commit to a regular practice schedule, then it’s time to find a local class that offers a small class size and individual attention on test-taking tips and content sections where more support is needed.

Jim McCorkellCEOAdmission Possible

Retakes in June of junior year unless English language is an issue…

We recommend that students take their college entrance exam in April of their junior year. If you decide you want to take the test a second time to improve your score, we have found that the greatest gains have occurred by taking the test again in June when the test experience is still fresh in your mind. The one exception is for students with English language barriers who tend to do better retaking the test later (October of their senior year, ideally). This gives you the benefit of several extra months of speaking, reading and writing in English. 

Pamela Hampton-GarlandOwnerScholar Bound

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

The best ways to prepare for the SAT are to understand the derivations of words (prefixes, suffixes, context clues, synonyms, analogies, etc.) in context through reading and practice (using study guides, etc.). My personal thought regarding paying for SAT Prep courses is up to the person and depends heavily on your learning style, I believe that there are many tools available for a person to study independently or online, but if you need a classroom environment you must choose the best approach for you.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

It’s important to take the PSAT. Development of good study habits, time management, organization, and an overall focus in academics will help students to succeed. Tutoring and study groups are often advantageous.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

It’s important to take the PSAT. Development of good study habits, time management, organization, and an overall focus in academics will help students to succeed. Tutoring and study groups are often advantageous.

Jeana RobbinsCounselor

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

It’s important to take the PSAT. Development of good study habits, time management, organization, and an overall focus in academics will help students to succeed. Tutoring and study groups are often advantageous.

Benjamin CaldarelliPartnerPrinceton College Consulting, LLC

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

Paying for a private tutor will often yield a high return on investment. You will be admitted to more schools and earn more merit aid.

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

Review old exams and either take a group course or get 1 on 1 tutoring.

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

One of the best ways to prepare is to be sure you are taking numerous practice tests along the way. Whether you prep on your own, or with a tutor, you want to get yourself into the habit of practice that will be like the real thing. That means setting the timer and taking the equivalent of a full section without interruption. In addition to getting more experience on the problems, you will start to feel more comfortable with the pacing and timing. Remember, you can’t train for a marathon (the SAT/ACT) by just doing sprints alone (individual practice problems without ever taking full sections)! Mike Kent CollegeMax Counseling [email protected]

Stephenie LeePresident/Educational ConsultantLee Academia

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

Make a calendar and start early. The PSAT can be taken as early as freshman year. Students can start taking the SAT as early as sophomore year. Map out a plan by looking at the College Board’s test dates, and then check your academic calendar and extracurricular schedule. Don’t take the SAT the same week as your midterms. Next, plot out a week-by-week schedule where you review a lesson on a specific topic each week and do targeted practice in Math, Reading and Writing. Practice, practice, practice. Use real SAT questions to practice your weaker topics. Stage a dress rehearsal and keep taking the SAT. I suggest taking a monthly practice test in realistic, timed conditions on a Saturday morning. Don’t take the practice test in a quiet room at home—go to somewhere where there is ambient noise so that you’ll practice with distractions. This way, when you go to the real test center, it will seem more familiar. Students raise their scores by an average of only 40 points on the second test. But if you have a very large sample—say, 10 tests —there is a good likelihood that one of those tests will be an outlier—that a particular test will fall on the high end of the test range. The test is an approximation, affected by many factors: whether the students happen to get more questions on topics they handle better, whether they guess better, whether they are more seasoned test takers, whether they got enough sleep and food, and the general testing conditions. Apply only to schools that let you select which SAT scores you report. Under the new policy, some colleges may still require applicants to submit all test-taking attempts. If you take the SAT 15 times (which you shouldn’t do), apply just to schools that let you hide your scores. There are many different study methods out there. Start early and choose a plan that works for you and stick with it. Study independently, study with a tutor, study with a test prep class… or mix it up. Just practice the SAT a few times before you take the actual one.

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

One of the best ways to prepare is to be sure you are taking numerous practice tests along the way. Whether you prep on your own, or with a tutor, you want to get yourself into the habit of practice that will be like the real thing. That means setting the timer and taking the equivalent of a full section without interruption. In addition to getting more experience on the problems, you will start to feel more comfortable with the pacing and timing. Remember, you can’t train for a marathon (the SAT/ACT) by just doing sprints alone (individual practice problems without ever taking full sections)! Mike Kent CollegeMax Counseling (818) 519-5279

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

One of the best ways to prepare is to be sure you are taking numerous practice tests along the way. Whether you prep on your own, or with a tutor, you want to get yourself into the habit of practice that will be like the real thing. That means setting the timer and taking the equivalent of a full section without interruption. In addition to getting more experience on the problems, you will start to feel more comfortable with the pacing and timing. Remember, you can’t train for a marathon (the SAT/ACT) by just doing sprints alone (individual practice problems without ever taking full sections)!

Mike KentFounder / DirectorCollegeMax Counseling

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

One of the best ways to prepare is to be sure you are taking numerous practice tests along the way. Whether you prep on your own, or with a tutor, you want to get yourself into the habit of practice that will be like the real thing. That means setting the timer and taking the equivalent of a full section without interruption. In addition to getting more experience on the problems, you will start to feel more comfortable with the pacing and timing. Remember, you can’t train for a marathon (the SAT/ACT) by just doing sprints alone (individual practice problems without ever taking full sections)!

Carita Del ValleFounderAcademic Decisions

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and which study methods are worth paying for?

The best way to study is entirely dependent on your learning style. Once that is determined then specific methods are more important and a better use of your mom and dad’s money than others. Either way, having a credentialed teacher who is well-versed in differentiating education would be the best choice.

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