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Looking into SAT or ACT prep and notice that places like Kaplan and Princeton Review have ...

citymama9citymama9 Registered User Posts: 1,664 Senior Member
packages that involve online prep. Are these as good as going to a testing center in person? I'm concerned about finding the time to actually fit classes into D's schedule?

Also is there a big difference between Princeton Rev and Kaplan? How do we decide which to pick? Thanks

Replies to: Looking into SAT or ACT prep and notice that places like Kaplan and Princeton Review have ...

  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,895 Senior Member
    edited September 12
    My honest opinion, as a test prep tutor...save your money. I personally do not feel that big classes are at all beneficial. For the same money, you could hire a private tutor for a few sessions. That is money much better spent, becasue they can target your child's specific areas of weakness. You also have much more flexibility. A private tutor works form ou, on your child's schedule.

    Re Kaplan versus Princeton, six of one, half dozen of the other. Choose the better price, if you go that route.
  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 1,404 Senior Member
    Plus, they both use their own tests not the official ACT and SAT practice tests.

    Our S19 took an ACT and an SAT freshman year (since those scores won't show up anywhere) and decided SAT was better for him. Then, he studied on his own this summer using the Xiggi method. You can google it. Worked well for him. Won't get his official score for another week but his practice test scores went up and up. If he thinks he needs a tutor after seeing this score, we will know exactly what he needs in terms of tutoring and they can just focus on any weaknesses. That's way less expensive than hiring a tutor from the beginning.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 6,895 Senior Member
    And I realize I didn't read your post properly.

    I have a friend who purchased online prep for her kids and thought it worked very well. But I still think one on one in person is better.
  • Emsmom1Emsmom1 Registered User Posts: 749 Member
    I also don't think the classes are worth the money. We hired a test prep one-on-one tutor for my daughter and her ACT score went up 6 points. I've used Kaplan in the past (for myself) and was not impressed.
  • citymama9citymama9 Registered User Posts: 1,664 Senior Member
    edited September 12
    @Lindagaf @Emsmom1 @homerdog Thank you so much for responding. I wish my D could self-prep like so many here do, but I'm afraid that she needs a structured program to get her started. She's done some math using an ACT book so far, but nothing major. Our plan was for her to start a class to get her started this fall. Then once she has some tools she can do stuff herself. Once we get closer to test time and when she knows her weak spots we were planning to hire a tutor. I'm just afraid that if we get a tutor now that the cost will be crazy. It's not unusual for tutors in our area to charge around $200 per hour. I'm hoping to find someone for less. As of now the plan is to for her to take the first ACT next April. Still trying to figure out if she should do ACT and/or SAT. It's so hard know which to focus on. She's a great student, but not an amazing test taker.

    Ideally, I would rather skip the class and just hire a tutor, but I'd rather save that for Jan.

    Any more thoughts are welcome. I appreciate your insights.
  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 1,404 Senior Member
    Makes sense to me, then, to go to a class. I'm sure they will assign homework and that will keep her on track! As for choosing ACT or SAT, there are many reasons to choose one over the other but you'll need some scores on hand. Both Kaplan and Princeton Review around here will allow the kids to take a free timed test. Then, they give you a pretty handy report that shows strengths and weaknesses on each test. After that, it is sometimes easy to decide. Sometimes, though, kids do about the same on the tests and then you can either prep for both or look closer at how your child felt about each test.

    For S19, the questions on the ACT were pretty easy. He just couldn't finish. And being crunched for time has always made him very nervous. While he found the SAT questions harder, he's bright enough to do well on them and SAT gives way more time per question. He decided he'd prefer to focus on SAT prep.
  • Emsmom1Emsmom1 Registered User Posts: 749 Member
    edited September 12
    That's a good idea to hire the tutor after you figure out her weak spots. My daughter has ADHD so there was no way she would have studied on her own, which is why we did the tutoring from the get-go (we are in LA and it was quite pricey). I do know there are some places that offer online classes plus a tutoring package. My nephew did just the online classes and his SAT only went up by 50 points, although I don't know how dedicated he was to doing the homework, etc.
  • citymama9citymama9 Registered User Posts: 1,664 Senior Member
    In case anyone sees this: After some practice tests we are certain the SAT is the way to go. D did so much better on it and hated the need to work so quickly on the ACT. So, again we want to do an online program for now. I'm thinking Princeton Review, but I see PreppedScholar has something and it's cheaper. I feel so paralyzed trying to make a decision. Any ideas? I just want to pick the right place.
  • SoccerMomGenieSoccerMomGenie Registered User Posts: 165 Junior Member
    As an independent SAT tutor (who has also taught classes for a test prep company), it's my view that large classes can be good for relatively unmotivated students who like the social aspect and the structure of regularly-scheduled classes. They are also good for weaker students who could use a good overview of all topics on the test. I'm generally not a fan of the large test companies -- Princeton, Kaplan, etc. I'd never recommend using the practice tests they've generated over the officially released practice tests.

    For more motivated students and/or students who have already achieved moderate to relatively higher scores, then independent or one-on-one study is best. If you can't afford a private tutor, I recommend researching and using the Xiggi method. The Xiggi method basically involves taking official practice tests, one section at a time, treating each one as much like the real test as possible (i.e., timing yourself, using No. 2 pencil and bubbling the answers, etc.). Then the student does a deep analysis and study of each question that is missed, gradually converting each weakness into a strength.

    I've heard good things about PrepScholar, but don't have personal knowledge.

    If your student is at all self-motivated, I'd strongly recommend buying "PWN the SAT Math" by Mike McClenathan and New SAT Grammar Guide by Erica Meltzer (both available on Amazon). Both books are VERY user-friendly and well-organized and a student would do very well to just grab those books and gradually work his or her way through them.

    Good luck!
  • citymama9citymama9 Registered User Posts: 1,664 Senior Member
    @SoccerMomGenie Thank you so much!!!! It looks like we're going to skip the classes and just get a tutor. Also, D just happens to be using the books you suggested, and doing some work on her own in the meantime. I will definitely look up the Xiggi Method. Sounds very good. One question for you: Since there is a relatively new SAT now, where does one find authentic practice tests. There can't possibly be that many available, right? Again, thank you so very much.
  • LvMyKids2LvMyKids2 Registered User Posts: 150 Junior Member
    @citymama9 i think there is an official blue book of 8 practice sats. My son is using that with a private tutor to study for the PSAT for 11th grade. And, yes, if you have a motivated student or one that has already relatively high scores a private tutor is the way to go.
  • citymama9citymama9 Registered User Posts: 1,664 Senior Member
    @LvMyKids2 Thanks! In your opinion is it necessary to be highly motivated and have high scores to benefit from a private tutor? My D is motivated in that my husband will give her sections in the books to do and she does them without complaining. She also has set goals for herself, but I do wonder if she would ever pick up an SAT book on her own without our asking her to. As for already having high scores, it's hard to tell. She is doing fine, but there is much room for improvement. She has only done sections though, not whole tests yet.
  • LvMyKids2LvMyKids2 Registered User Posts: 150 Junior Member
    @citymama9 has your child ever sat for a practice ACT ot PSAT...that would give you some indication how high (or low) or a range of how prepared they are going into the actual tests. My child took at psat sophmore year - required by school. They got a 1460 out of 1520 doing that cold. Along with their high school grades and rigor, it seemed that he would be a high scorer on the real tests, so we did private tutor. One kind of has to put together - how kid is already doing in HS, any practice tests taken, and maybe how student has tested in the past. That would help. Yes, anyone could have a motivated child, but one that will never score super high. I am not sure now, that motivated is the right word. But I do think knowing more background on your child - past test history (even if in elementary and middle school on standardized tests, and rigor/gpa now) can somewhat predict test taking abilities.
  • eh1234eh1234 Registered User Posts: 517 Member
    My daughter did a "live online" Kaplan course. She paid attention during the sessions but didn't do any of the assigned work even if I bugged her about it. She didn't get much out of it for that reason (she did end up doing pretty well on the ACT without doing any ACT prep at all). Her SAT score actually went down, so not worth the money! Pretty much the opposite of "highly motivated."

    My S is a better test-taker (1360 on sophomore PSAT). He won't touch the prep books I bought him, but he'll occasionally do some practice at Khan Academy (but not as much as I hoped he would). All eight practice tests are online at Khan Academy (the same ones you'll find in the official blue book, which also sits untouched on a bookshelf in my son's room). He will not take a practice test on paper so we'll see what happens when he takes the real thing on Saturday.
  • citymama9citymama9 Registered User Posts: 1,664 Senior Member
    @eh1234 very helpful. good luck to your son!

    @LvMyKids2 D has taken the PSAT each yr at her HS as they require it. Did better soph yr compared to Fresh yr, but not Ivy level scores. It's probably reasonable that with prep she could get in the 700s in both sections based on what we're seeing now. I'm trying to understand what you mean about whether a tutor would be helpful or not. She's a straight A student except for one class last yr. Always considered "gifted" in our school system, but not someone who is Harvard material, imo. Hope that clarifies.
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