Are SAT prep classes worth the cost?

The Princeton Review prep classes include 30 hours of instruction, four practice tests, 15 additional SATs and 2 practice ACTs.
The Princeton Review prep classes include 30 hours of instruction, four practice tests, 15 additional SATs and 2 practice ACTs.

By Stephanie Chang, Staff–

Prep classes for the SAT can be costly—up to $1,699 for 30 hours. Many Davis High students wonder whether they are worth the cost.

“I may [take an SAT prep class], depending on how I do on my first SAT,” junior Hunter Morse said. “I don’t really have much time to fit classes into my schedule and they are not cheap.”

Head counselor Courtenay Tessler said that the need for SAT prep classes depend on individual students, and thinks that these classes are taken because they give students confidence. However, she believes “you do not need to pay $1,000 for Princeton or Kaplan.”

“The best way to prepare is to do well in your classes,” Tessler explained.

According to Michael Boothroyd, executive director of Kaplan Test Prep, Kaplan incorporates what’s on the test, how it’s structured and how to deal with it mentally, which is what a student needs to do better on a test.

“What we’ve come to recognize […] is that it’s not about an artificial magic number, but about personal goals,” Boothroyd said.

Kaplan focuses on a student’s individual score goal, with a money-back guarantee if the goal is not reached. Likewise, Princeton also has a money-back guarantee if students don’t improve their scores.

Cy Williams holds SAT prep classes in Davis, and says that parents of his students have been happy with the results and keep referring people to his class.

However, Williams said the reason behind his success is that his students are highly motivated to get into their dream colleges.

“It doesn’t matter how good your prep classes are,” Williams said. “It’s the students working hard and wanting do well.”

UC Davis student Iqra Farooq took the Princeton Review classes in high school because she “needed a more focused and organized way to study,” but said that she “didn’t gain much [from the classes.”

DHS junior Lauren Duan, however, took a Princeton Review class and found it useful.

“I thought the instruction was really helpful and personalized, which I think is why my score jumped 200 points from that of the first diagnostic test at Princeton Review to that of the SAT,” Duan said.

On the other hand, senior Kathy Hu didn’t take any SAT prep classes. Instead, she used a lot of practice books with practice tests in them, and scored a little higher on the actual SAT than on her practice tests.

“I don’t regret not taking an SAT class at all because I think you can study just as well on your own and you save a lot of money,” Hu said.

For those who decide not to spend money on prep classes, Career Center coordinator Julie Clayton suggests the use of Khan Academy, a free online site that offers a full SAT practice test, videos with step-by-step solutions to difficult problems and unreleased questions from the SATs.

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