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Does Your Child Need SAT Help?

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Value of Test Prep

“Test prep courses may bolster self-confidence by making the test less unfamiliar, but spending a ton of time, especially time taken away from courses, is time misspent,” advises Louis Hirsh, director of admissions for the University of Delaware in Newark, DE.

Robert Alig, vice president of the Middle States Region for The College Board, which administers the SAT, agrees. “We don’t believe nor does the research demonstrate that expensive test prep significantly improves scores,” he says. Alig directs students to My College QuickStart, on The College Board website, for personalized feedback based on results from the PSAT, the SAT practice test. (For ACT-takers, the preparatory test is called PLAN.)

Margaret Darnington of Glen Mills, PA, hired an independent private SAT tutor for her oldest son. “We did see improvement,” she says. “Basic prep familiarized him with the test, but tutoring in specific areas is where it was most helpful to target our time and resources. With my second son, I will be more proactive in starting the prep earlier.”

Test preparation costs can range from $20 for online courses to $140 per hour for a top tutor. The College Board and ACT websites offer free practice questions.

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