Watch Out for SAT Prep Scams

SAT tests are a source of anxiety for most high school students planning to attend college. They know that they will be judged against others across the country, and SAT scores are one of the factors that could weigh for or against them in determining admission. So it is no surprise that many high school students are opting for a SAT prep course to try to raise their scores. SAT prep courses are also popular with those who have taken the SAT and want to retake it to increase their score the next time. There are, however, many SAT prep courses to choose from and a range of ways to do the courses. There are also some cautions to follow to avoid getting scammed or overspending. Here are some guidelines in choosing a SAT prep course.

Consider Your Learning Style
Some people learn better one on one, with a tutor. Some people learn better in a classroom. Some learn better independently, at a computer or with a guide book. Parents, your high school student should know him or herself well enough to have a feel for his or her best learning situation and style. Ask and narrow down the options from this point. Know that there are classroom courses, tutors, books with practice tests, free online resources, CD Rom courses and even virtual courses in an online environment available. Choose a preferred style and then go to the next step of researching choices under that style.

Information is About the Same: It's the Teaching that Matters
No prep course is going to show you this year's exact SAT test. Prep materials are, however, very comparable to the real thing. So if you're hearing promises that you'll learn from the test itself, you're hearing a lie. Move on. Choose a course that is being taught by someone who scored perfect or nearly on the SAT test itself, and can prove it. Teacher training is important, and the teaching style is also. The teen who will be taking a classroom course should meet and get a feel for the classroom teacher before enrolling.

Money an Object? Start With Free Resources.
Did you know that there are free resources available? Of course, the library is a primary source for free copies of the same test books (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Boston Prep, etc.) to you would buy for $30 or more at the bookstore. Also, www.number2.com is a free SAT prep resource website that has been found by testers with Consumer Reports to be as helpful as a Kaplan or Princeton Review online course ($399 for limited time access). Watch for typos or sites that are not working right, and avoid those if you are signing up for something online. Quality is important.

Beware Inflated Promises
If a prep course ad is promising scores will increase by over 100 points, before giving them your money, do some background checking. Ask for references that you can call and talk to. Ask for proof. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Ask for teacher credentials. Be sure that you will be able to get your money back if the promises they've made don't work out.

It All Comes Down to You
No prep course can take the test for you or implant magic knowledge in your head. In the end, if you want to improve your score, or get the highest score you can, study and preparation make all the difference. Do the homework, get the score.

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