Author Topic: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary  (Read 8801 times)

freeatlast

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Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« on: September 23, 2016, 02:38:31 PM »
My kiddo is a junior and needs to take the college entry exams. She's smart with good grades and advanced placement/honors classes. These courses cost $700 - 900 and I'm wondering if book studying and practice tests are enough or whether she'll be at a disadvantage. We are hoping she gets into the very competitive state college here. To endure admission she needs a high score....

Thanks!

freeatlast

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2016, 02:40:23 PM »
Oops. Ensure admission - but endure is pretty funny! :)

MrsPete

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2016, 02:45:46 PM »
At those prices, no, the classes aren't worthwhile. 

However, a review book or online review program at $20-50 is money well spent ... IF the student will actually use it. 

And another suggestion:  If you're talking about the SAT, have your student take it in one of the more popular months (October is one).  In these bigger-test months, you can pay an extra $8 to have your actual test and answers mailed to you afterward.  My kids and I went through them together and marked the questions they missed ... and then found practice exercises online for the specifics they needed to review.  They both had BIG jumps when they took the test a second time. 

And be sure to finish your test-taking during junior year.  Senior year (with all its decisions) is tough enough without testing.  The tests don't test any math beyond Algebra 2, so senior year classes won't help the score.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2016, 02:50:11 PM »
Try a practice test first. You should be able to get one of those free or cheaply in a test prep book. If she does well enough on that, no reason to take a class.

obstinate

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2016, 03:35:08 PM »
They are absolutely not necessary. My SAT score was 1560 on the 1600 point scale, despite my grades being in a relatively lower tier. The strategy I followed was to take a practice test, study concepts I missed, and repeat until I was acing the practice tests. Getting a good score on the actual SAT was a breeze after that.

There was an article about this on medium.com, but I can't find it now.

couponvan

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2016, 03:39:02 PM »
I'm clearly in the minority, but I think the classes are worth it.  I took the classes for all of my standardized testing, and I scored in the 99th percentile (ACT, SAT, GRE and MCAT).  The amount of money that I saved in tuition (paid $0 for too many years of school) with merit based scholarships more than covered the classes.  Should I have just used a book?  Of course.  Would I have done as well?  Probably not.  The in class instruction is really helpful.  However, it's the realistic practice tests (sitting in a room full of other test takes simulating a real testing scenario) that made me so comfortable on the day of the test.
And I made the money back (and received the GRE and MCAT courses for free) when I taught for the test prep company as a part time job.  Well paid side gig through undergrad and grad school.

Which company?  Just asking....

They are absolutely not necessary. My SAT score was 1560 on the 1600 point scale, despite my grades being in a relatively lower tier. The strategy I followed was to take a practice test, study concepts I missed, and repeat until I was acing the practice tests. Getting a good score on the actual SAT was a breeze after that.

There was an article about this on medium.com, but I can't find it now.
And where are you all getting the practice tests to take?

englishteacheralex

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2016, 03:52:14 PM »
I'm a huge advocate of them. I took the test twice with a prep class in the middle of the two, and my scores went up by 150+ points. Got me a big scholarship. I took a cheap form of prep class (after investigating several options) and it was horribly boring, but it helped me a lot.

Lanthiriel

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2016, 04:00:18 PM »
I'm another no. Get one of the books that has access to practice tests online and you'll be fine. If your kid is good enough at studying to get good grades, she'll be smart enough to do fine on these tests. Also look into what colleges she's planning to apply for and see if you need both tests. I only took the SAT and my husband only took the ACT because of regional differences.

Goldielocks

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2016, 04:06:06 PM »
I'm clearly in the minority, but I think the classes are worth it.  I took the classes for all of my standardized testing, and I scored in the 99th percentile (ACT, SAT, GRE and MCAT).  The amount of money that I saved in tuition (paid $0 for too many years of school) with merit based scholarships more than covered the classes.  Should I have just used a book?  Of course.  Would I have done as well?  Probably not.  The in class instruction is really helpful.  However, it's the realistic practice tests (sitting in a room full of other test takes simulating a real testing scenario) that made me so comfortable on the day of the test.
I did a practice test.  Then the actual one a week later. I read up on what the test sections were like from a 'for dummies' type of book, maybe 3 hrs of reading.

I don't think I would have gotten more than one or two more question with study or a course.

BigHaus89

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2016, 04:07:16 PM »
I'm another no. Get one of the books that has access to practice tests online and you'll be fine. If your kid is good enough at studying to get good grades, she'll be smart enough to do fine on these tests. Also look into what colleges she's planning to apply for and see if you need both tests. I only took the SAT and my husband only took the ACT because of regional differences.

I second this.

boarder42

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2016, 04:09:32 PM »
I just took it 9 times. Once in 7th grade then as a sophomore. Then 6 29s in a row. Finally a 30

cdttmm

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2016, 04:14:23 PM »
It totally depends on your kid. I taught and tutored standardized test prep classes for nearly 20 years. I still do the occasional 1-session basic test prep guest lecture if a college or organization is willing to make it worth my time. Did one this week, in fact.

If your kid is a self-disciplined person who is already intrinsically motivated to do well on the test, then simply buy a test prep book, help them to set up a study plan, and let them do their thing. If your kid is interested in doing well, but either lacks intrinsic motivation for this particular thing or lacks the necessary self-discipline, then pay for a course. If your kid has a friend who they are even slightly competitive with academically who is also planning to take a course, coordinate with the friend's parents to get the kids in the same course. A little friendly competition can be helpful when prepping for standardized tests because, generally speaking, standardized tests not the most exciting thing to study for.

Some of the biggest factors for test prep success:
1) lots of practice tests (preferably done in environments that closely simulate the real thing)
2) a solid understanding of standardized test design and the strategies that help you beat the test
3) a good review of basic information that most high-achieving students did several years ago in school and have not used since
4) a realization that high standardized test scores likely won't be the reason you get accepted into a particular school, but low(er) standardized test scores could very well be the reason you are NOT accepted to a particular school

Hope that helps!

LeRainDrop

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2016, 04:28:14 PM »
It really depends on your kid.  Is she a natural test-taker?  Some kids are really smart but then freeze up on standardized tests.  Others seemingly perform better on their tests than teachers would otherwise guess.  I took the SAT in 7th grade, then the PSAT in high school, and finally the SAT for college admin purposes -- didn't study a bit and got in the 1500s on the 1600 scale.  On the other hand, when it came to law school, my first practice LSAT score was unsatisfactory for me, so I took the PowerScore test prep class.  It was super helpful for me so that the tricks and methods just clicked in my head, and I could take the test just like a formula.  My actual LSAT score ended up much higher than that original practice test, in the 170s on the 180 scale (99.x percentile).  Anecdotally, for me, it would not have been worth it for the SAT but was absolutely worth it for the LSAT.

ETA:  Ohhh, this comment from cdttmm is a very good call!  I took the LSAT course with my boyfriend at the time.  We took lots of practice tests at home together, and it made me happy that I always beat him by a little bit.  On the flip side, I think he was kinda disheartened for the same reason that he wanted to beat me on the test.  In the end, I think my consistently getting a slightly higher score in practice meant that we both studied more and took more practice tests before the real thing and ultimately scored better than we would have without that course and competition.

If your kid has a friend who they are even slightly competitive with academically who is also planning to take a course, coordinate with the friend's parents to get the kids in the same course. A little friendly competition can be helpful when prepping for standardized tests because, generally speaking, standardized tests not the most exciting thing to study for.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2016, 04:50:03 PM by LeRainDrop »

mountains_o_mustaches

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2016, 04:35:28 PM »
No - that's a huge waste of money.  Get 1-2 prep books, specifically those with practice tests and questions.  Have your kid spend more time practicing test questions and less time studying - it seems counter-intuitive but research on how people learn supports this approach.

mxt0133

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2016, 04:39:39 PM »
There should be practice classes at the high school that is free which might just be as good as a paid course.  I wish I would have taken advantage of that.  I took the SAT twice but never actually prepared, biggest regret during high school.

Like everyone said, practice, practice, practice.  It's not necessarily the subject matter that give the students difficulty it's the duration of the test.  I remember after the second hour I was ready to go.  I think I just put down anything on the last 10 or so questions because I was just burned out. 

Dee18

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #15 on: September 23, 2016, 05:19:19 PM »
It was worth it for my daughter.  She credited the prep class (5 three hour sessions for $250) for her 3 point jump in the ACT that resulted in a full tuition scholarship. This was a locally owned business, not part of a national company.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2016, 05:27:12 PM by Dee18 »

Vagabond76

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #16 on: September 23, 2016, 05:49:27 PM »
College is overrated.  Anyone with a pulse can get in so long as they can pay for it with scholarship money, savings, or student loans.  Screw trying to actually prep for the SAT or ACT.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2016, 05:51:20 PM »
All the material you need to prep for SAT is free on Khan Academy. The Khan Materials are excellent and approved by College Board to highly reflect the actual test.

And the official SAT study guide can be downloaded free from College Board if you don't want to buy it (though printing might cost the same if you print it all.)

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2016, 06:24:48 PM »
No way man, those classes sound silly. Smart people can just take those tests and get good scores.

cacaoheart

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2016, 06:46:42 PM »
So far in life I'll read up on the format of a test, take it officially to see how well I do, and then determine how much/what I need to study, provided it's a test that doesn't penalize me for multiple test attempts. I came from a poor area where only one other student in my class of 187 had an SAT score above 1300 out of 1600, so my 1410 served me well. If I were from an area like I live now where such high scores are practically the norm I'd need to up my game somehow but would probably also need to be looking at other ways to differentiate myself rather than just a perfect score.

I took the ACT in 8th grade, PSAT in 9th and 10th grade, then SAT in 11th and 12th grade, followed by the GRE soon after college graduation just to see how well I'd do in case I ever needed to take it. I used library books and a cheap computer program which worked well for me. An expensive class wasn't an option for me at that point, but if I were trying to get into a competitive program that used a standardized test as a significant part of their admission selection I'd have no issue paying for it now. My nursing program paid for everyone graduating to have a week long class on how to take the NCLEX, and 100% of us passed. Paying to take the class outside of our program would have been ~$1000.

J_Stache

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2016, 07:37:09 PM »
Spend $30 or so on a Kaplan or Princeton Review test prep book.  Have your child read the strategies in it and take a practice exam.  If they are scoring where they need to score on practice tests, no need to take a class.  If they are not scoring where they/you think they can, look into the class.  For the SAT verbal, my 2 years of horrible Latin classes came in somewhat handy.  I hate the whole test prep arms race, but you are at a distinct disadvantage if you do not do any test prep.

I did extremely well on both the SAT and GRE.

I used a test prep book for the GREs.  Basically used it as a review since I had been out of college for 8 years (and to be honest, the GREs are a lot of high school level math that I was out of practice with).

When I took the SATs I don't think I did any test prep, but I did take the test 3 times (granted the 1st time I had either the flu or a really bad cold and fell asleep during the test). 


waltworks

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2016, 08:14:11 PM »
IMO, these days you can just think of undergraduate college as high school. You need to go to a halfway decent one, but it doesn't need to be great. Grad school is what will matter for high intelligence/achievement students, and SATs/what college you were at are pretty irrelevant as you'll have (hopefully) by that point adequately proven your awesomeness by getting great grades and doing a cool honors thesis or neat research or something.

So I would personally not spend the money unless your kid is bad enough at test taking that it's going to be a major impediment to getting in anywhere. What a monotonous way to spend your time, too, even if money isn't an issue.

-W

startingsmall

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #22 on: September 23, 2016, 08:37:51 PM »
Definitely not necessary, IF she'll put the time in to go through the book herself. I used to teach SAT classes for the Princeton Review.... the classes were a huge help for kids who wouldn't necessarily put in the effort on their own or kids that weren't bright enough to pick up on things easily. For a smart, motivated kid, though, the classes definitely are not a necessity.

alewpanda

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2016, 08:48:27 PM »
I was a homeschooler...not crazy high grades either.  I manged to pull off a 31 on my first try of the ACT.  Granted, I didn't stress it because I knew I could retake...so no anxiety, just followed the instructions and scored high in most areas but the math part.  If she is a high performer and doesn't have test anxiety, she will likely do well -- and she can always retake it.

alewpanda

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2016, 08:51:46 PM »
I was a homeschooler...not crazy high grades either.  I manged to pull off a 31 on my first try of the ACT.  Granted, I didn't stress it because I knew I could retake...so no anxiety, just followed the instructions and scored high in most areas but the math part.  If she is a high performer and doesn't have test anxiety, she will likely do well -- and she can always retake it.

Oh, just jumping in to say...reading comprehension is EVERYTHING...that an good math understanding.  The science portion?  All reading and pulling information from the reading.  I scored highest in the science portion...not because of my science knowledge, because of my reading comprehension.  If she has good reading comprehension (I was college level on all tests from 7th grade on) then she will do great.

obstinate

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2016, 08:59:22 PM »
Oh yeah, here's the essay from the $1000/hr SAT tutor who said his students did better without him.

http://www.vox.com/2016/1/8/10728958/sat-tutor-expensive

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2016, 09:07:20 PM »
I was a homeschooler...not crazy high grades either.  I manged to pull off a 31 on my first try of the ACT.  Granted, I didn't stress it because I knew I could retake...so no anxiety, just followed the instructions and scored high in most areas but the math part.  If she is a high performer and doesn't have test anxiety, she will likely do well -- and she can always retake it.

This is actually an important point: only ignorant slatterns take the SAT. The ACT is the correct/only choice

LeRainDrop

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2016, 09:22:32 PM »
Oh yeah, here's the essay from the $1000/hr SAT tutor who said his students did better without him.

http://www.vox.com/2016/1/8/10728958/sat-tutor-expensive

Wow, that is a great article.  Thanks for sharing it.  Makes a lot of sense.

Cranky

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #28 on: September 24, 2016, 12:20:30 PM »
I think a lot depends on whether she's a good standardized test taker or not. Some kids are, some kids aren't, and you've usually got a pretty good idea of which you are by junior year.

Have her take the test and don't submit the scores (can you still do that? It's been a few years since my kids were at that point.)

And the junior year PSATs are really important - those determine the National Merit scholarships.

obstinate

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #29 on: September 24, 2016, 04:23:55 PM »
I think a lot depends on whether she's a good standardized test taker or not.
The ones who practice are, and most of the rest aren't.

GizmoTX

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #30 on: September 24, 2016, 04:59:00 PM »
Try a practice test first. You should be able to get one of those free or cheaply in a test prep book. If she does well enough on that, no reason to take a class.

This is absolutely the first & crucial thing to do. We opted for one on one tutoring for our son, because that's the way he functions best, & he realized maximum gain for the least time spent. His goal was admission to a great engineering program. The tutor started with the practice test to isolate what they needed to work on. His English skills were high enough that they concentrated 100% on the math SAT test, & practiced strategies to tackle the questions with the goal of spending the least time possible & eliminating impossible answers. Bottom line: DS scored 700 on math & 760 on English. The university he decided to attend awarded him 2 four-year merit scholarships, & his SAT score had to make a big difference.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 09:24:11 PM by GizmoTX »

ender

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #31 on: September 24, 2016, 05:11:12 PM »
I think a lot depends on whether she's a good standardized test taker or not. Some kids are, some kids aren't, and you've usually got a pretty good idea of which you are by junior year.

Have her take the test and don't submit the scores (can you still do that? It's been a few years since my kids were at that point.)

And the junior year PSATs are really important - those determine the National Merit scholarships.

Annnnnnnd, if your kid is a good test taker, make sure they know the PSAT is important. Pretty sure as a student I had no idea. Just another dumb and pointless standardized test, right?

I did very well on SAT/ACT. Apparently I didn't do well enough on the PSAT...

But the PSAT score is far more important than either SAT or ACT in terms of scholarships where I went. Bleh.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #32 on: September 24, 2016, 05:57:31 PM »
Bottom line: DS scored 700 on math & 860 on English.

Hmm, the highest possible score on any single section is 800.  That hasn't changed in decades.  No way to have scored an 860 on English.

druth

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #33 on: September 24, 2016, 06:06:06 PM »
I'm an ACT tutor as my real life job so hopefully I'm helpful here!

It 100% depends on where she is at now and where she needs to be.

Look at the school she wants to get into.  If she is really serious about it she should shoot for their 75th percentile ACT score.  This information is easily googlable. "[SCHOOL] ACT score range"  If her grades are below their average she may want even higher.

Have her take a practice test in as real of conditions as possible.  You can proctor this yourself pretty easily, most free tests online include the directions in the front of the test even.  Now you know how much she needs to go up.

If she's already there, yay!  She can read some basic test strategy and brush up a little but otherwise good to go.
https://www.amazon.com/Up-Your-Score-2016-2017-Underground/dp/076118449X/
http://blog.prepscholar.com/topic/act-strategies

If she's self motivated and only needs 1-2 points she can go through the strategies and practice test on her own to find what she got wrong and figure out the problems on her own and it will probably be sufficient.

More than that is really difficult for students to get without significant study.  IMO the classes are good for students who won't do homework or don't have the self motivation to do well on the ACT (understanding why you should do well and caring about doing well are different). 

Private tutors are better for more self motivated students.  Private tutors will teach your child better and more individually but rely on homework assignments since they only usually meet once a week.  I usually work with a kid for the 8 weeks before the test and can generally rely on a 4+ point increase depending on if they are doing their assignments and paying attention.  If they need more points than that you better get them in even earlier than 8 weeks out.  I'm working with a girl who is trying for 11 points right now(19->30)...  She's got a plan with me for the entire next year.

Books and online classes only work for the most self motivated and independent students.  Most won't actually stick with a program or book when there is no intermittent reinforcement.  8 weeks from now might as well not exist to most high school students.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2016, 10:02:53 PM by druth »

GizmoTX

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #34 on: September 24, 2016, 09:25:54 PM »
Bottom line: DS scored 700 on math & 860 on English.

Hmm, the highest possible score on any single section is 800.  That hasn't changed in decades.  No way to have scored an 860 on English.

Sorry, a typo: 760. I corrected my post accordingly.

Cranky

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #35 on: September 25, 2016, 05:37:07 AM »
I think a lot depends on whether she's a good standardized test taker or not.
The ones who practice are, and most of the rest aren't.

Not really. But an actual class will have more impact on a kid who doesn't shine on tests like that - test taking is a skill.

Oh - and a lot of top tier schools want to see a couple of SAT II scores. Those I think you should review for.

ohmylookatthat

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #36 on: September 25, 2016, 07:29:54 AM »
I read an article previously on what a tremendous help they were previously on outletreview.com but cannot find it now

waltworks

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #37 on: September 25, 2016, 07:41:51 AM »
As an aside, how is test taking a skill any different than all the other test taking you do in high school? I had tests or quizzes basically every day back then. If you suck at "test taking", then you get horrible grades and your ACT/SAT scores don't matter much, right?

It's just a multiple choice test with an essay (these days) attached. Over the exact same stuff you studied for 3 or 4 years in high school, with zero difficult (no calculus, even!) subject matter. What specific skill do you really need for that that you don't already have/practice in school all the time?

-W

obstinate

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #38 on: September 25, 2016, 10:56:36 AM »
I think a lot depends on whether she's a good standardized test taker or not.
The ones who practice are, and most of the rest aren't.

Not really. But an actual class will have more impact on a kid who doesn't shine on tests like that - test taking is a skill.
Yes, really. Test-taking, as you say, is a skill. Generally speaking, people who don't practice a skill don't perform well when it is required. People who do practice, do perform well when the skill is required. The article I posted at Vox makes this point very clear with an illustration that I'll quote:

Quote
Here's an actual conversation I had with a friend of mine:

Friend: Man, I'm so bad at golf.

Me: What do you mean?

Friend: Every time I play, I stink. I can't drive the ball straight, I'm horrible at putting, and don't even get me started on my fairway game.

Me: How often do you play?

Friend: I dunno — maybe once a year?

Here's the issue: My friend isn't a bad golfer. My friend doesn't play golf.

There's a big difference between being bad at something and not practicing it. I would never say that I'm "bad at German" or that I'm "horrible at putting together Rubik's cubes." I've never tried to do either. I simply don't speak German, and have never learned how to spin the blocks in the right direction in the right sequence.

I believe our nation's inability to grasp this difference is directly responsible for our plummeting SAT scores. Many of the parents I worked with expected their children to ace the SAT without instruction, effort, or practice. I was seen as a last resort — a necessary curative to their children's lack of innate testing ability.

GizmoTX

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #39 on: September 25, 2016, 11:11:34 AM »
The SAT doesn't measure knowledge; it tests what to do with knowledge with too little time for most people to get the right answer. So, the test taking skills required include pattern recognition of the mechanism each question calls for to solve it in the least amount of time possible. Until recently, the test also penalized wrong answers to thwart guessing, so you were better off to skip questions that took a lot of time (having to solve every answer to pick the best one) or if you couldn't eliminate most of the answers. If you haven't had successful practice with the types of questions asked, you will not do as well as you could.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #40 on: September 25, 2016, 11:14:50 AM »
As an aside, how is test taking a skill any different than all the other test taking you do in high school? I had tests or quizzes basically every day back then. If you suck at "test taking", then you get horrible grades and your ACT/SAT scores don't matter much, right?

It's just a multiple choice test with an essay (these days) attached. Over the exact same stuff you studied for 3 or 4 years in high school, with zero difficult (no calculus, even!) subject matter. What specific skill do you really need for that that you don't already have/practice in school all the time?

How is it different?  There is a HUGE amount of pressure to excel on this ONE test and that it is SO much more important than any other test you've ever taken in your life, and your score on this ONE test will determine whether you get into a good college or not.  You may have aced every test all through school, but that can all be destroyed if you don't kill it on this ONE test!  At least, that is certainly the framing that is given to many kids and can put them off their game.  Plus, the test is often given in a huge room, with hundreds of other kids, the desk spacing is different, there are the serious-looking proctors walking around, announcements of how much time is left, time's up, etc., and the test is much longer than school quizzes or tests.  It is a completely different setting and tone than the kids are used to for any other test, in my experience.  That tends to produce A LOT of unnecessary anxiety about taking this particular test.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2016, 11:17:58 AM by LeRainDrop »

waltworks

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #41 on: September 25, 2016, 11:28:17 AM »
Interesting. When I was in high school (90s) it wasn't considered all that big of a deal, at least at my school. I mean, people wanted to do well, but I can't think of a single instance of a kid who was otherwise capable/smart doing terribly.

Besides, even back then you could take it over and over if you wanted to and only send the high scores to colleges.

When I took the GRE (1998 maybe?) it was on a computer. Do high schoolers still use paper/pencil for the ACT/SAT?

-W

Bicycle_B

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #42 on: September 25, 2016, 11:38:34 AM »
So far in life I'll read up on the format of a test, take it officially to see how well I do, and then determine how much/what I need to study, provided it's a test that doesn't penalize me for multiple test attempts. I came from a poor area where only one other student in my class of 187 had an SAT score above 1300 out of 1600, so my 1410 served me well. If I were from an area like I live now where such high scores are practically the norm I'd need to up my game somehow but would probably also need to be looking at other ways to differentiate myself rather than just a perfect score.

I took the ACT in 8th grade, PSAT in 9th and 10th grade, then SAT in 11th and 12th grade, followed by the GRE soon after college graduation just to see how well I'd do in case I ever needed to take it. I used library books and a cheap computer program which worked well for me. An expensive class wasn't an option for me at that point, but if I were trying to get into a competitive program that used a standardized test as a significant part of their admission selection I'd have no issue paying for it now. My nursing program paid for everyone graduating to have a week long class on how to take the NCLEX, and 100% of us passed. Paying to take the class outside of our program would have been ~$1000.

Cacaoheart, glad you posted this.  There are a lot of posts in this forum that ignore class background so it's nice to see the few that address it in practical terms.  Respect.

TravelJunkyQC

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #43 on: September 26, 2016, 11:29:13 AM »
I think it depends on the person. My score went up from an 1180 to a 1400 with a class. Though I had great grades in school, as well as university, I'm just not hardwired for testing situations (I'm more of a research person). The class helped me understand how to work the test (which, let's be honest, is all an SAT is - it has no basis in measuring actual intelligence).

Basically, like most other things, it depends on the kid in question. In my opinion, if you want to know how what types of words are related to others, how to figure out some equations on the test, etc... then I think a book is fine. If you want to know in what situation you should skip a question, when you should guess, how you should work through the test in the most efficient manner... testing techniques basically, I found the class helpful.

boarder42

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #44 on: September 26, 2016, 12:29:37 PM »
There is so  much scholarship and other monies tied to a high ACT score for college entrance. If a class will work to increase the scores and your child has the commitment to do the work.  paying 1k for a class that is worth 20k in scholarship dollars is a small price to pay.

mtn

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #45 on: September 26, 2016, 12:42:37 PM »
I took a class from a friends mother. She was a tutor, had graded ACT's in a past life, and it was very beneficial. I didn't pay for it (since I took it with my friend--there were 3 of us) but would have.

There are a lot of things to know about the test--strategy in taking it, what to answer if you don't know the answer, how they're going to try to "trick you", etc. She had us take practice exams, then we went over them--so she wasn't teaching us what might be on the test (since there is so much of it), but teaching us how to take the test and preparing us for it. After the sessions, I couldn't teach them, so I think they were beneficial.

I got a 31 twice on it, with my aggregate score being a 32.

freeatlast

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #46 on: September 26, 2016, 08:26:56 PM »
Thank you all! My kiddo got a 28 on her second practice test  - she needs a 30/31 for the school she is looking at, with three weeks to go. So... I think we'll see how she does with the online ACT teaching program and the books.  If it doesn't go well ... then I guess we'll do the class route. I know those last 2 or 3 points will be tough, so fingers crossed.

druth

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #47 on: September 26, 2016, 09:58:05 PM »
Thank you all! My kiddo got a 28 on her second practice test  - she needs a 30/31 for the school she is looking at, with three weeks to go. So... I think we'll see how she does with the online ACT teaching program and the books.  If it doesn't go well ... then I guess we'll do the class route. I know those last 2 or 3 points will be tough, so fingers crossed.

A few pro-tips for if she needs 2-3 points with that little time...

It's easier to gain points in the sections you are already good at.  Counter-intuitive (I'm bad at math; I should work on math.  No!) but actually at the high end it only takes a couple questions to get another point in a section, on the low end it takes 5+ questions to gain a point.

If she doesn't understand a concept in science, the description is in the passage!  I promise!  Kids never believe me when I say this.  "Well, I didn't know what to do with this because I wasn't sure if Ph is high or low as a base."  Followed by me pointing to the description of what Ph means right in the passage.  The science section is actually a reading comprehension test.  Same is true of Reading.  It's never about interpretation or prior knowledge, it's about finding one or two very specific lines of text.  (if it was interpretable there would be a debatable right answer, ACT can't have that)

Hard questions are worth the same points as easy questions; if she is running out of time she should circle and move on on anything that seems unfamiliar.

I could ramble on about this forever, but nobody needs that!  If she's a junior she shouldn't feel too pressured anyways.  Like you said you can re-evaluate if she doesn't hit her goal.

ender

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #48 on: September 27, 2016, 07:05:54 AM »
+1 to what druth said.

I never thought I was "good" at reading comprehension, but I'm a really fast reader. Well on a timed test the ability to quickly read, look up, reread? Turns out to be really useful and my ACT score in reading was quite higher than I thought it would be.

boarder42

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Re: Is an ACT or SAT class really necessary
« Reply #49 on: September 27, 2016, 07:16:20 AM »
+1 to what druth said.

I never thought I was "good" at reading comprehension, but I'm a really fast reader. Well on a timed test the ability to quickly read, look up, reread? Turns out to be really useful and my ACT score in reading was quite higher than I thought it would be.

yeah i'm the opposite... reading kept me from getting a 34 or higher overall b/c i cant read fast.  the other 3 sections were simple.