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SAT Coaching classes vs Self-Study

  • Ravi
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Hi, My son is entering into Junior in high school. As of now not gone thru any SAT preparation or coaching. Other than PSAT exam and self-testing just once, and got about 1300+/1500 in both. Dilemma is how much it is worth putting effort of spending time and money on local coaching institutions. Or just self study ? Or finding some 1:1 SAT tutor for a week or two ?

Any suggestion and recommendations are appreciated.

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    • Roy (UC Santa Cruz, UCSC - Computer Science)
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      It is extremely important to do well in the SAT's for college admission. Some schools won't consider an applicant because a student's score is too low. I recommend to try to shoot to be in the 80+ percentile for SAT scores and having an incredible story-telling essay.

      Regarding which way to study depends on the student. You should do whichever the student feels more comfortable doing.

      Best of luck!

      Date: 20-05-2017
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      • Paula (Cornell University - Biology)
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        Your son is already scoring well above the mean, so it is probably unnecessary to pay for a full class. At this point, he needs to really focus in on his weak areas and learn specific strategies for test-taking. The SAT is standardized, so the questions will always be in a similar format and they will try to trick you in the same specific ways over and over again. Therefore, oftentimes the best way to do well is to learn how to take the test rather than specifically reviewing the content that may be covered on it.

        I would recommend a combination of self-studying and working 1-on-1 with a tutor. Self study first, and then if you have any very clear trouble areas that you can't fix alone, fix those with the tutor. Your son knows himself and his own strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else, so at this stage it is more beneficial for him to work through problems that he has had trouble with the in the past and figure out why they cause him trouble. Luckily, this is also the cheapest and most flexible method of prep!

        To prepare for the new SAT, I would recommend going through a combination of the prep material on Khan Academy and the official SAT practice book. These materials were both developed by the College Board, which is the same organization that writes the SAT. Therefore, getting comfortable with the format of these questions will also make your son more comfortable with the questions he'll see on test day.

        After working through these materials for a while, he will see which questions he tends to miss more and will be able to focus on how to do better on that type of question specifically. Every time he misses an answer he should make sure that he understands *why* he got it wrong and how he can keep from doing that in the future. This may involve doing extra practice problems for math, or it may involve making flash cards to review vocabulary.

        After he has worked through a lot of the material on Khan Academy and in the official book, he should have a pretty good idea of how prepared he is for the actual test. At this point he may not even need a tutor, but if he does, he should definitely hire a 1-on-1 tutor to get extra help on those sections. They are experts in working with issues specific to individual students, so they should be able to give him practical strategies towards overcoming any remaining weaknesses to maximize his score.

        Hopefully, after taking these measures, your son should be in very good shape to take the SAT next spring!

        Date: 20-05-2017
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