Growing up as the youngest sibling, I’ve gotten a first-row seat to all the struggles of preparing for SATs and ACTs. I’ve seen the hours spent taking practice tests. The tears cried over poor results. And the registration for retakes time and time again. It is a daunting process, taking a toll on students and parents alike.
Dedication plays a very big role when preparing for these high-stakes tests because it’s easier to fall into old habits of not studying: going on games, messaging friends, and hanging out after school. Not to mention, students today have the biggest enemy right in the palm of their hands most hours of the day.
According to WhizKidz Tutoring, the average student spends a total of 5 to 20 hours each week for about three or more months preparing for the SAT. The majority of that time is spent in SAT prep classes for about 10 to 20 hours per week. All of this studying can be very beneficial to students, but it could also backfire if you begin to lose balance with studying and other activities.
Rianna Alvan ‘25 stated, “My overall experience with the SAT was very stressful; however, I learned a great deal as a student. After being done with the SAT, I do think it had a positive impact on my education and my lifestyle. It taught me how to efficiently manage time and deal with being under pressure.”
When taking these tests, the main question that runs through a student’s mind would be if it’s going to benefit their college admission. “Most colleges require either the SAT or ACT and express no preference for either test…,” according to The Princeton Review. Juniors in high school taking these tests are encouraged to take both though, mainly because it won’t hurt them, but rather increase the amount of college acceptances they receive.
Christopher DeBoer ‘24 stated, “I think the SAT is definitely needed to help college admission processes. I like the test-optional option for submitting it to colleges, but many still require you to send it. I think the tests are useless in actually helping you in college and are only a stress for kids in their junior year of high school.”
These tests do come at a cost. To simply take the SAT once is $60. Realistically, students will take the test more than once, meaning a total of $120 or more will be spent depending on how many times they decide to retake the test. The SAT industry and College Board, in all, make a total of around $1 billion in revenue each year.
Studying for these types of tests takes a certain level of focus. Essentially, it’s not ideal to study consistently day after day in the months before your tests because it’s hard to retain any information if your brain is physically tired and overwhelmed. It’s best to simply brace yourself for all the studying you’ll be doing in preparation for these tests with the awareness that you have to rest sometimes, too.
Mr. Christian Stellato stated, “I find SAT Prep to be extremely effective. My students have a typical score increase of 200-250 points. In particular, I find the classes helpful for students who were in our education system during Covid-19 lockdowns. Not only do my classes teach strategy, but they also cover content, so many students can relearn materials they missed or did not process fully when they learned them in school. Overall though, like anything else, if students do not commit to completing the work and paying attention, they will not see benefits from test prep. The tests are fairly repetitive as well, so the content and strategy are very teachable.
I believe the industry makes an appropriate amount of money. Last year, the test prep industry took in $500 million in revenue, but considering the potential scholarships and additional learning that occurs during this tutoring, the total market share is fair. In fact, the industry is expected to grow to almost $650 million by 2028.”
Each year, the SAT prep industry receives more and more students in order for them to pass their tests, meaning they receive millions of dollars yearly. With the three forms of prep, which are group lessons, individual lessons, and virtual lessons, students have options on how they prefer learning and being taught. Initially, the preparation for these tests is a review of things we’ve been taught throughout the years. SAT prep is seen as a refresher of years-old work to the brain. With these prep classes already being expensive, it’s smart to use your time wisely and not get distracted.