Are ACT/SAT prep classes worth it?
Junior year is typically the year to start college planning. For most students, the first step includes taking the ACT or SAT standardized test to determine the colleges they are most likely to apply to. With the ACT or SAT playing an important part in college admission, should students allot time to prepare, and should parents be paying hefty amounts if scores are not likely to change?
While long and stressful, classes are worth the extra trouble and money
Three letters that can take over your life junior year. Three letters that mean more to you than pretty much everything else. Three letters that can determine where you go to college or how many scholarships you get. ACT.
Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but the ACT is one of the most important tests you will ever take (unless you take the LSAT for law school, or MCAT to be a doctor, but not all of you will) in your entire life. So when people say that it’s not important, or worth it to take a class, I completely disagree. While my class wasn’t the first place I wanted to be on a Saturday morning last year, it was completely worth when I got the score I wanted to get.
Yes, these classes can seem boring. Yes, it feels like they are pointless. But if you actually pay attention, instead of sitting there half asleep (which half of my class pretty much did), students can get a lot out of the class that you can’t get from a test-prep book.
My teacher taught strategies and constantly drilled us with English grammar exercises and math from Algebra 1 and Geometry. Every week, we would get the same assignments, but with different words and numbers, so we really learned how to do the problems. After so much repetition, it’s easy to know what to do. And, more importantly, during the test, you can do those questions quickly instead of stressing out over those, when there are much harder questions on the way.
In addition to the work we did in class, I was assigned homework for the week when I wasn’t in class. Again, not my favorite thing to do, but important. It emphasized the things we had just worked on in class, and to continue building those skills to master the less difficult questions.
While these classes do help boost your score, they are expensive. My mom told me everyday I went how expensive it was, which reminded me to do well and not completely waste 500 plus dollars sleeping in class.
When considering the money, students and parents need to recognize that while paying a lot for a class seems pointless, it really does benefit you in the end.
Certain colleges award money when a specific score is achieved. The higher the score, the more money students can earn. For example, Indiana University (a popular choice for NCHS grads) awards $4,000 per year to students who have an ACT score of a 27 to a 29. They also award $9,000 per year to students who achieve a 30 or higher on the ACT.
When I first took the ACT, I only qualified for certain scholarships, but as I got further and further into the class, my score improved. Since my score increased, I was able to receive even more money from colleges.
Five hundred dollars seems like a lot now, but wait until those $9,000 per year scholarships start rolling in, that’s when you know that an ACT/SAT class was the right thing to do.
Classes are pointless, scores hardly change
The ACT wasn’t designed to be studied for.
The ACT is simply a way for schools to measure how much a student knows. The ACT examines practically all the English, math, reading, science and writing skills that a student may learn over their entire high school career. So with that said, it’s not realistic to try and study everything you’ve learned in that time period. ACT prep classes are a waste of time for students and a waste of money for parents.
Don’t get me wrong, the ACT is not to be taken for granted. A student should prepare for the ACT but not to the extreme of spending hundreds of dollars in order to sit a class for hours each week. The classes plainly teach strategies such as eating right before you take the test or bringing at least two pencils with you but those ideas are common sense or at least they can easily just be looked up on Google.
Also, prep classes take a significant amount of time from a student. Once or twice a week the prep classes take away hours away from a student’s time that could be better spent doing homework or studying for a test that actually calls for studying. These classes are also sometimes on school nights, forcing students to stay up later in the evenings and consequently makes them more tired the next day for school.
Lastly, prep classes are expensive. Each course costs hundreds of dollars. The money spent for these preparation classes could be better used to buy school materials, school books or anything else that costs about $300!
These courses “guarantee” to improve your score but that is of course unrealistic. Take my sister for example. Last year she scored a 27 on the ACT before she took the class, and a 27 after she took the class. Needless to say, prep classes are an unnecessary way to get ready for the ACT.