Why is there a market for college prep books?

<p>Are schools not teaching what is needed for these exams?</p>

<p>Because there is money to be made.</p>

<p>It is one of those rare occasions when I agree with you.</p>

<p>Are you referring to TEST prep books? If so, then they are: used to review the early (grade 9, and 10) math that Calculus students need to pass the SAT Math section; to gain experience in the timing and speed of test sections, as well as gain familiarity with the subtleties of CR questions.</p>

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It is one of those rare occasions when I agree with you.

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<p>So much for tongue in cheek</p>

<p>What people are calling college prep books in the other thread include at least four different types of books:</p>

<p>-- Catalogs of different colleges, with stats and descriptions and sometimes "insider" info. People look at these to think about where to apply. These are the books that most people seem to use.</p>

<p>-- Books about the application process -- how to write application essays, apply for scholarships, understanding need-based aid and merit, getting recommendations -- basically the stuff that gets discussed all the time on this site. Few if any high schools teach that. Counselors may explain it, but most don't have enough face time with their students to do a good job.</p>

<p>-- Test prep books. These are very focused on specific standardized tests. Some of them have instructional material, some just have old tests to practice on and answer keys. Some discuss the tricks of the test-taking trade. Some schools do test prep (more all the time), but traditionally it was seen as educationally inappropriate to "teach to the test", especially tests like the SAT that have little to do with traditional subject matter. AP prep books shouldn't be of much value if you are taking a decent AP course, but not every AP course is decent. SAT II prep books can be very valuable, because not many schools design courses to prepare kids for SAT IIs. (Very few colleges actually care about SAT IIs.) If you don't look at a prep book, you may have no idea what is going to be covered on the test. In some areas, there's a huge overlap between the SAT II and AP, but in others there is huge discontinuity.</p>

<p>-- Books about how to make the transition from high school to college. These are basically self-help books for teens, and people who like self-help books may like them and find them valuable. This is something that most kids figure out for themselves, not always efficiently. Neither high schools nor colleges take responsibility for teaching it to kids who don't essentially learn it by osmosis.</p>

<p>Schools do not teach to any particular standardized tests. There are actually people in the education field who would frown upon asking such a question. Schools teach what the school district mandates to be in the curriculum. There are always variations and gaps and there are always a need for good review and practice tests for students who take these exams.</p>

<p>A better question would be why is there a need for outrageously priced college prep class and tutoring?</p>

<p>In the minds of most people: good grades + good scores -> good college -> good job -> good job -> more money -> good retirement. </p>

<p>That is capitalism for you. Profiting off of education, prisons, killing people, you name it. Anything.</p>

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Test prep books. These are very focused on specific standardized tests. Some of them have instructional material, some just have old tests to practice on and answer keys. Some discuss the tricks of the test-taking trade. Some schools do test prep (more all the time), but traditionally it was seen as educationally inappropriate to "teach to the test", especially tests like the SAT that have little to do with traditional subject matter. AP prep books shouldn't be of much value if you are taking a decent AP course, but not every AP course is decent. SAT II prep books can be very valuable, because not many schools design courses to prepare kids for SAT IIs. (Very few colleges actually care about SAT IIs.) If you don't look at a prep book, you may have no idea what is going to be covered on the test. In some areas, there's a huge overlap between the SAT II and AP, but in others there is huge discontinuity.

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<p>Thanks, this helps. That's what I was wondering, about AP courses. If there is an AP course in school, why the need for books. But as you said, all AP courses are not decent (which to me is shocking).</p>

<p>The rest of the books I get.</p>

<p>My argument is that if schools actually taught kids to effectively think critically and not just regurgitate info on the test, there would be no need for these test prep at all.</p>

<p>David, I think it is more basic than that. If you have taken AP English Lit, for example, and AP Calc, there is no reason why SAT should be a problem for you. English and Math are fairly basic things.</p>

<p>I agree, I am very against the tests themselves, but even more against the ones who profit off of them. That includes 3rd party companies such as Barrons and Princeton Review. Collegeboard profits way too much too. It is supply and demand. There is a demand for higher education, they are providing.</p>

<p>Follow the money.</p>

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David, I think it is more basic than that. If you have taken AP English Lit, for example, and AP Calc, there is no reason why SAT should be a problem for you. English and Math are fairly basic things.

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<p>You would think so, but Asian students continually score low on many standardized tests on the verbal section. Take the MCAT for example, it is very common to see Asian students scoring high on the BS and PS sections, and completely bombing the verbal..to the point that they don't even pass the screening for secondaries. </p>

<p>IP, you have stated your son talks about Math at the dinner table, does he also talk about literature?</p>

<p>I can vouch for you. I got a 34 on math, but only 30 on English and 32 on Reading. But consider that it is only a matter of 2-3 questions.</p>

<p>There are test prep books because there is a demand for them.</p>

<p>If no one bought test prep books, none would be published.</p>

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Thanks, this helps. That's what I was wondering, about AP courses. If there is an AP course in school, why the need for books. But as you said, all AP courses are not decent (which to me is shocking).

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<p>Some courses are crammed into a year (US History and Biology tend to be big culprits) that teachers don't have chances to review. In fact, tons of them do not finish. Many CC'ers often say that there US History class ended at 1900/WWI/etc.</p>

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David, I think it is more basic than that. If you have taken AP English Lit, for example, and AP Calc, there is no reason why SAT should be a problem for you.

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Taking Calculus does not mean one cannot make careless mistakes that can be removed with a little practice. Taking AP Lit and reading tons of poetry and novels does not mean you can quickly read through a passage and answer slightly ambiguous questions. It also does not mean you will know every single possible vocabulary word that could be tested.</p>

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English and Math are fairly basic things.

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If you look at them at a basic level, yes.</p>

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all AP courses are not decent (which to me is shocking).

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I don't understand why anybody would assume that every teacher for AP classes was very skilled. Around 17% of seniors have passed at least one AP test in the US. That's a ton of kids.
(page 7 on <a href="http://apreport.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/downloads/pdfs/AP_RTN_2011.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://apreport.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/downloads/pdfs/AP_RTN_2011.pdf&lt;/a&gt;)&lt;/p>

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If you have taken AP English Lit, for example, and AP Calc, there is no reason why SAT should be a problem for you.

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<p>There are two mistaken premises in there. </p>

<p>First, there is pretty much no overlap between the content of AP English Lit or AP Calc and the SAT I test. Granted, if you are facile with math the SAT I Math should not be a problem, but if you have taken AP Calc when you take the SAT I it is probably two years since you have seen any of the types of math questions on the SAT I, which is pitched at a pre-pre-Calc level. So even a math whiz might want to get back into the swing of answering those problems efficiently. Plus, there is a whole question style to the SAT that is unlike anything you would see in an actual math class (or at least that was the case when I took them). Same with AP English Lit. That is a content course; the SAT I CR is more logic and vocabulary. For some people, doing both is as easy as rolling off a log, but they don't actually have anything to do with one another.</p>

<p>Second, hardly anyone has taken those AP classes when they take the SAT. The whole fad for taking AP courses throughout high school is brand new. Until the last 10 years or so, it was very unusual for people to take AP courses before 12th grade, and plenty of schools today don't offer them before 12th grade, or sometimes 11th. And Calculus and English Lit are still overwhelmingly 12th grade courses. </p>

<p>While any decent school will have a track available for kids who are accelerated in math, the American standard curriculum teaches pre-Calculus in 12th grade, and generally strong students are set up to take Calculus then, but not earlier. My kids went to an academic magnet public high school that was very strong, especially in STEM, and maybe 4-5 kids per class took AP Calculus before 12th grade. AP English Lit was completely unavailable to anyone but 12th graders.</p>

<p>Meanwhile, for strong students SATs are generally taken in 11th grade, with maybe a last re-take early in 12th grade. So only a handful of students would take AP Calculus or AP English Lit before taking the SAT.</p>

<p>I am going to disagree a little bit. Having taken AP Calc does not have much to do with SAT. In fact, there is no calculus related questions in any of the SAT math at all. All you really need is Algebra 2 through maybe trig or pre-calc. However, taking SAT test is nothing like taking math test in high school class. While the sharp and math gifted students do very well regardless, other students can do much better if they practice and improve their testing skill through the exercises in these books. Time management and quick problem comprehension of these short and quick questions format is a skill that can be improved. I found that a lot of mistakes by my kids in math involved not carefully comprehending the question or sometimes the wording tricks them into thinking that the question is asking for A instead of B. My kids got a lot better with practicing on a lot of problems in these books.</p>

<p>BTW, we mostly borrowed these books from the libraries.</p>

<p>GAMOM, By Asian do you mean kids for whom English is not a first language, as in overseas students? Or do you mean Asian kids born and brought up in the USA? If it is the latter group, that would be strange!</p>

<p>I have decided to not talk about my son at all on this board. It sparks too much negativity. I will send you a PM to answer your question. Thank you for understanding.</p>

<p>David, 30 and 32 is like what - 80-90th percentile? That's not only. These tests are cutoffs anyway from what I understand from my grad school admission days, which admittedly has been ways back.</p>