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Parrott-Wood Memorial Library

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Strawberry Plains, TN 37871

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With many students juggling schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and other commitments, it’s easy for some to put off the SAT or ACT and hope for a good score the first time around. However, just like with college applications, there’s a lot of preparation and planning that should go into standardized testing. Test prep is a critical piece of the college admissions puzzle, as it can greatly increase students’ chances of acceptance to their top-choice colleges.

While there are a number of test-optional and test-flexible colleges in the US, most of the country’s most selective institutions still rely on standardized test scores as part of the application evaluation process.

Changes are coming to the SAT and ACT within the next year, and college bound high school students – especially current sophomores and freshmen– are going to feel the full effects of the shift. Without proper planning and preparation beforehand, students run the risk of going into a completely redesigned test unprepared – leaving them with a large score improvement goal, should they perform poorly.

There are many other benefits to standardized test prep, however, it’s not always realistic for families to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on tutoring or prep courses¬ – and that’s okay! Just like with selecting a college, families need to find test prep options that are a good financial fit.

Test prep comes in a variety of shapes and sizes – from expert personal tutors and large prep classes, to lower-cost guidebooks and free online resources. Whether you choose to hire a professional or utilize free resources, test prep is a good investment of time and money. Here’s why.

Gauging progress can help students build a better-fit college list.
One of the most important parts of the college preparation process is building a balanced list of target, reach, and likely colleges. Selecting the schools for this list depends on a variety of factors, one being a student’s chances of admission based on grades and test scores.

Test prep for the ACT or SAT isn’t just about getting a perfect score – expert tutors monitor students’ progress and gauge what score students can realistically reach based on their previous performance and improvement. This is critical, as it can help students and counselors build a better college list, with more accurate expectations for target, reach, and likely colleges.

Good scores are necessary in order to be competitive in admissions.
Standardized tests are a necessary evil in college admissions – while a perfect SAT or ACT score doesn’t guarantee admission, dismal scores can send students to the “no” pile very quickly. In fact, colleges have consistently noted standardized test scores as one of the top three factors in admissions decisions, along with grades and strength of courses. This makes test score improvement a big consideration for parents and students.

Students learn strategy, not just content.
The idea that success on standardized tests depends solely on aptitude is a misconception. While students need a base knowledge of the content, test-taking strategy is just as important in order to be successful. Through test prep with an experienced tutor, students can learn tips and methods to maximize their time and performance. Things like process of elimination, pacing, and identifying question difficulty are just a few essential skills required to better understand the SAT or ACT.

Even a little bit of prep can improve scores.
How critical is test score improvement to a student’s chances of admission? Even the smallest of gains can make a difference. According to a NACAC study, about one-third of selective colleges state that a small increase in standardized test scores could make a difference in an admissions decision. An improvement of just 10-20 points on the SAT could make the difference between landing in the “maybe” pile, rather than the “no” pile, regardless of how high or low a student is scoring.

https://www.ivywise.com/ivywise-knowledgebase/newsletter/article/the-benefits-of-test-prep-getting-into-your-top-choice-college/


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