SAT Prep Perception & Reality

The truth is that by overcoming their weaknesses & by mastering good techniques, our students increase their SAT scores hundreds of points every year.

Evaluating Effectiveness of SAT Prep

Just as there are myths about the SAT itself, there are myths about the effectiveness of SAT prep courses. Most evaluations of the effectiveness of SAT prep programs seem to assume that all programs are created equal. It is our conclusion that a program which effectively imparts knowledge to eliminate knowledge gaps and that is accompanied by due diligence by the student will prove effective by improving SAT scores.

As mentioned in the SAT Facts & Myths section, articles in the Wall Street Journal and research by The College Board have stated that SAT coaching does not produce significant improvement in SAT scores. The studies by The College Board have taken various factors in consideration including parents' education and students' motivation, however, it appears that they have assumed all SAT coaching programs to be equally effective (or ineffective) and all students to be equally diligent. This is akin to saying that all patients respond similarly to a cancer treatment or that all cancer treatments are equally effective. We know that is not the case.

Similarly, from 20 years of anecdotal evidence from my students, I can state without any doubt that all SAT tutors do not employ the same methodology, and all students do not respond similarly or make similar efforts to improve their knowledge and performance.

At Optimal SAT Prep, we have made it our business since 1993 to clearly and honestly tell a prospective student why his or her scores are low in any given section. Next we explain that significant improvements are very possible, provided he/she has a teacher who can impart necessary knowledge in a way that the student understands, and provided the student makes adequate effort to apply and retain what he/she learns. The most frequent compliment we have received over the past two decades is: "You make it so easy!"

So, do we teach every student the same material? Yes. Do we teach every student the same way? Definitely not! Every student is different and our method changes based on a student's existing knowledge base. Often the same student is taught different techniques as his/her ability to grasp and process complex information improves. The fact is that most of the SAT math section requires no more than Algebra I and basic geometry of triangles, parallel lines and quadrilaterals. During the last revision, some Algebra II concepts, such as composite functions, periodic functions, and function transformations were added. The SAT math section does not have logarithms, proofs, imaginary numbers, etc.

Every year even our 7th and 8th graders typically score in the range 670-800 in the math section of the SAT. This is not because we select elite students for tutoring but because we teach all our students in relation to what they already know. We challenge them to try their best to review and apply what they learn and thereby improve their knowledge, speed and performance. Our students often report that our approach to SAT coaching improves not only their SAT scores, but their math and science grades and their academic self-esteem as well.

If you have ever felt that any part of the SAT is too difficult for you, it behooves you to come and take our SAT Readiness Assessment and a complimentary session to learn how Optimal SAT Prep can improve your performance.