Is a test prep course worth it?

All of my friends have taken a test prep course for the SAT or ACT exam. I don’t have the money or the time. Will this hurt me?

If you are disciplined enough to work independently, there is not necessarily any advantage to taking a course. SAT prep courses provide the discipline and structure to prepare for this important exam, but if students start far enough ahead, it is possible to more than adequately prepare with the help of SAT review books. A great selection of current test prep books is available at Island Books, the counseling office of your high school or can be ordered through KCLS.

There is no one formula for preparing for the SAT exam. The one common denominator is that you must put the time in to familiarize yourself with the test format and the directions, so you are not spending valuable time trying to figure out what they are asking you or how to efficiently complete your bubble answer sheet. You must be familiar how the test is scored, so you will know when to skip a question and when to make an educated guess.
All students tell me that running out of time is the biggest hurdle they face when taking this test, and the majority of students never finish at least one section. This could be avoided if you practice taking a similar exam under timed conditions using a stopwatch so you can learn to pace yourself.
The new SAT I has less emphasis on vocabulary than previous tests, and it has more emphasis on reading comprehension.
If you know you are weak on vocabulary, and you have enough lead time, review SAT vocabulary lists that are available from all bookstores. A better alternative is to simply read articles from news magazines or the New York Times, looking up words you do not know as you come across them.
As for the math section, a nice review is included in the student section on the College Board website that will help you determine which math content you might need to spend some time reviewing.

Make sure you give yourself enough time before you actually take the test to do at least five full practice tests so you will start to recognize the types of questions that will be on the real SAT. Also, it is self-defeating to spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for the SAT during your junior year, if it means that your grades suffer as a result, so start preparing early and good luck.

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