Many students turn to test prep providers as they get ready to take the ACT or SAT, but with so many different types of providers out there, it can be overwhelming to know what you should look for. Here are some tips when it comes to finding the right provider for you.
1. Decide What Method You Want
Think about whether you want to take a class, have a private tutor, or study on your own with books and electronic resources. Below are some pros and cons for each kind of method. Think of which characteristics would resonate the most with your learning preferences.
- Cheaper than a private tutor
- You have an expert at your disposal to ask questions
- You can better select the amount of hours or the class size that works for you
- Less individualized attention
- Studying with others might be distracting
- Moves at your individual pace
- More flexibility in location and scheduling
- Tends to yield the highest results
- It’s can be significantly more expensive
Books and Resources
- The most affordable of all three options
- There is a lot of variety, allowing you to find books that you specifically like
- Can sometimes come with live support, giving you extra help
- Requires a lot of self-motivation and discipline
- Offers the least help from experts
2. Look for a Balance Between Preparation and Practice
All three preparation methods will look to both teach you, by focusing either on content or strategies, and provide practice material. Generally, making sure that your provider has an equal amount of both kinds of resources will make you most successful.
3. Research the Numbers
Do your research on any kind of learning method that you select. If you’re thinking of taking a class, find out how much it costs; how many hours it provides; and how many people are in the class. The average class size is about 15-20 people, but remember that a smaller class means more individual attention.
If you are opting for a tutor, you should research what his or her qualifications are. How many people has this person tutored until now? How long has the person been a tutor?
As for books or electronic resources, you should consider how many practice tests or questions does it offer? How much live engagement does the package you want to purchase include?
4. Seek out Diagnostic Testing
One of the best ways to improve your score is to make sure that your provider offers plenty of opportunities for diagnostic testing. By taking a full-length assessment and simulating the conditions of the test-taking room, you will feel calm, cool, and collected when it’s time to do the real thing.
5. Skim the Samples
Whether you’re deciding to pick a class, tutor, or study solo with a book, do your best to acquire a sample of the service before your purchase. Try to envision yourself using the teaching methods long-term and think about whether they match your learning style.
Ask if you can sit in on a class or take a look at the materials they use. If you’re thinking about getting a tutor, many provide curricula or lesson plans that you can look through. Check out a couple of sample topics in each of the books you’re deciding between.
Best books for SAT self study and ACT self study. (n.d.). College Prep Ask It RSS. Retrieved July 30, 2014, from Ask it! College Prep
Evaluating Test Prep Options. (2010, December 28). Bell Curve Blog. Retrieved July 30, 2014, from Bell Curve Blog