Why Test Prep Matters for the SAT and ACT By Jordan Schonig As college-bound students gear up for the testing season, many find themselves questioning the necessity of studying for the SAT or ACT. Is it even possible to prepare for such exams? Aren’t they simply a measure of innate intelligence? These are common queries, often perpetuated by the very organizations that develop these tests. The College Board, responsible for the dreaded SAT, asserts that cramming is ineffective and suggests that the best preparation involves taking challenging courses and cultivating ideal study habits. It might seem logical to trust the organization behind the test, but the reality is a bit more nuanced. The College Board’s objective is to create a test that neatly ranks all college-bound students based on their readiness for higher education, simplifying the selection process for admissions boards. Admitting that test preparation is accessible to everyone would undermine this goal. However, the truth is that while not everyone will achieve a perfect score, anyone can and should prepare for these tests. Test prep works, and here’s why. 1. Why Is Studying Possible? The SAT and ACT are standardized tests, meaning the content is consistent and predictable. This design ensures that no student has an unfair advantage over others, promoting fairness and balance in the results. When the test material is predictable, we can gain insight into the types of questions that will appear on the exams. By studying these questions and honing the necessary academic skills, we can increase our chances of performing well on the tests. 2. Is SAT/ACT an IQ test? Although the College Board presents the SAT as an IQ test that measures inherent academic abilities, this characterization is inaccurate. The SAT and ACT do not assess intelligence; instead, they measure your aptitude for taking a particular test. For example, SAT math questions differ from typical math problems encountered in classrooms or logic questions found in IQ tests. They are unique to the SAT and require familiarity through dedicated study. 3. Studying is worth our time Many students fail to recognize the efficiency of investing time in test preparation. Comparing the time required to achieve a competitive GPA (four years of daily school attendance, hours of homework, etc.) to the time needed for significant improvement on the SAT/ACT (ranging from 24 to 500 hours), the latter proves to be a more efficient use of your time. 4. How can I start? Despite the College Board’s objections, test prep has become a thriving industry. Abundant high-quality study materials, including prep classes, books, and online resources, are readily available. It is advisable to explore test prep websites like Sparknotes.com or Grockit.com, which offer affordable and comprehensive overviews of SAT and ACT preparation. The crucial step is to acquaint yourself with the test format before embarking on a structured study schedule. Don’t let the tests discourage you. You have the ability to study for and excel in them. Conclusion In conclusion, test prep plays a crucial role in achieving success on the SAT and ACT exams. By understanding the nature of these tests, investing time in preparation, and utilizing available resources, students can improve their scores and enhance their college admissions prospects.About the authorJordan Schonig is an ACT/SAT/GRE tutor for Grockit. Grockit is a fun and engaging learning community that encourages students to learn from group study, game play, expert tutorials and solo study. Students that prepare with Grockit have proven to achieve higher scores on college admissions tests.