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Articles / Applying to College / SAT Prep Class for Junior?

June 20, 2007

SAT Prep Class for Junior?

Question: I'm trying to determine if it's worth it for my son to take an SAT prep course. As a sophomore he scored a combined 212 on his PSAT: 69 Critical Reading, 66 Math, and 77 Writing. He just took his Junior PSATs, so we don't have those scores yet. We'll spend the money if we have to, but the class will take time away from his studies and he has 5 APs at a very rigorous private high school. He wants to go to an Ivy. Should he take the course?

If you do decide to spring for the pricey prep course, don't even think about it NOW. We would suggest that you first wait to get your son's junior PSATs back and then, assuming they're at least as strong as his soph scores, have him give the SAT I a shot in the spring without a class.

If his SAT results are also good, then you will have saved your son a lot of time and saved yourself a bundle of dough. If, however, the scores are disappointing and he's clamoring for a prep class, then summer may be the time for him to fit it into his schedule without the pressure of AP classes, etc. (That's assuming, too, that the extra cost won't have you sitting bolt upright with worry in the wee hours.)

Another consideration is what your son most WANTS to do. One of the bigger benefits of test-prep classes is that they build confidence. If your son seems to think that he NEEDS this class, then that would make it more of a priority. If you feel that his confidence will waver without it, you might want to take the plunge.

But if he, too, feels that the prep course will take valuable time from his studies and other endeavors, don't think that you're short-changing him by foregoing it. Lots of students do very well on these tests with no formal prep. Some, of course, use books and software at home; some do very little beyond reading the "free" prep material that comes from the College Board. Obviously, your son has gotten off to a good start on his PSATs ... probably with little or no prep ... so that's a good sign.

Finally, I don't know if you've found it yet, but one of our College Confidential Discussion Forum moderators, "Xiggi," offers some excellent advice on SAT prep that students can do at home. Go to: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/showthread.php?t=68210&highlight=Xiggi+SAT+prep

Once you have those junior-year PSAT results, write again if you're still uncertain about what the next step should be.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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