We know how important your involvement is in your child's education - we also know how difficult it can be to stay on top of all of the important steps in planning and preparing for college.  

Below you'll find this month's content - LEARN (info to know), DO (action to take), and TIPS (insights for success)


Are College & Test Prep classes really worth it?

Everyone knows that a four-year college comes with a fairly hefty price tag, but what are families willing to spend on test prep courses to help their kid get into those colleges?  And is that money well spent?  

Let’s take a few moments to discuss the pros and cons.

The Pros:

Taking a prep class or working with a tutor is a good idea if your student needs help with the content.  Maybe your son is in Geometry and has not yet taken Algebra 2.  Since the ACT and SAT test Algebra 2 concepts, a good prep class will go over content that will help him understand those concepts and should boost his score.  

Additionally, prep is a good idea for helping students see and practice the type of questions being asked on the tests.  Properly reading a question, understanding what it is asking and how to properly answer it, are good skills to have.  

Finally, prep is a great idea for those who need a little more confidence in their test-taking skills.  Be sure to talk to the tutor or prep provider and ask questions regarding what content is covered and how progress is monitored and managed.

The Cons:

Many prep classes are very generic and attempt to be “one-size-fits-all.”  This might not be as helpful for your teenager and may not address their specific needs.  There are many courses that share “tips and tricks” to do better on a standardized test – but that won’t really help your student’s score.  Many of these general ideas are obvious and not worth spending time and money to hear.  

Test prep courses are often really expensive; make sure the one you take is offering the material your student needs, for a price you can afford.  You should also be able to keep all of the materials you used in the class to continue to study from.

No course can “guarantee” a good test score or promise a score bump of X points.  If you are considering a course offering this type of incentive, consider looking elsewhere.

The real lesson: students cannot study for a standardized test.  

Their education – coursework, homework, tests, projects - is all the studying needed.  However, if your student is motivated and taking a class or working with a tutor expands his/her understanding of content, they may feel more confident when answering the questions, thus boosting their score.  Practice tests and timing skills are also helpful, but you don’t need a class to practice these.  Both ACT and SAT have released question items that are free to practice online.  Be wary of spending hundreds of dollars on a course that your student isn’t interested in taking.


Get Some Outside Advice

There is a good chance that you have friends, neighbors, or colleagues that have kids roughly the same age as you do.  Be intentional about asking them for their perspective on test prep courses in your area.  Would they recommend the same course?  Why?  Did they see the results they were hoping for?

Not all great prep courses are perfect for every student.  Be sure to take into consideration your son/daughter and the type of student they are – you know them best!  

TIP #1

Note-taking - Your 10th grader may need some help with their note-taking.  Ask them about how teachers expect them to take notes in class.  Give them any advice that you may have regarding their note-taking strategies - neatness, organization, and structure.

TIP #2 

Homework is the foundation of grades: when you put in effort each day and practice your new skills, test grades improve.  Help your student create a positive homework routine that works with his/her schedule and make sure they aren't overextending themselves.

Know of a school that could use additional support with college readiness?

We also offer Student Curriculum to schools and provide Parent Education on College Planning.  Additionally, we work with schools and districts to increase the college readiness of their students.  Learn more by clicking here.