How Hiring an S.A.T. Tutor May Pay for Itself

Many families bemoan the costs of standardized test prep courses and tutoring. After all, you can easily fork over hundreds or thousands of dollars to participate in a course or receive weekly private sessions. At the outset, this may seem like a lot of money; however, if your child is truly motivated to improve his or her scores, these services may be a worthwhile personal as well as financial investment. Here’s why.

Tutors Help You Choose Between the SAT and the ACT
While most American school districts offer the P.S.A.T., or “Pre-S.A.T.” which serves both as a diagnostic tool to approximate a student’s performance on the S.A.T. and as an eligibility requirement for National Merit Scholarships, many do not offer the P.L.A.N., or “Pre-A.C.T.” The consequences are that many high schoolers don’t even realize that the A.C.T. exists and that U.S. universities equally recognize and accept those results as they do those for the S.A.T. On top of that, some students perform better on the A.C.T., because it is more compatible with their learning style. As such, it can be an easier way to improve one’s standardized test scores rather than cramming for the S.A.T. By working with a test prep company or tutor, you can take in-house diagnostic tests to determine which one is right for you.

Better Scores Enhance Your Chances for Merit Aid
Many prospective students and their families are unaware of the influence that standardized test scores have on financial aid packages. According to a 2008 report by the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (N.A.C.A.C.), 87.5% of public colleges and 93.1% of private institutions awarded students with a strong G.P.A., challenging course load, and/or high S.A.T. or A.C.T. score with merit aid. Even incremental increases in standardized test scores can significantly augment the amount students receive in scholarships. Let’s take the University of South Florida’s awards to out-of-state students for example.

A minimum 1780 combined S.A.T. score or 26 composite A.C.T. score earns you a $6,000 scholarship per year. If your scores are just below those levels, a little push from a tutor can help you increase your financial aid package by $24,000. A 1930 combined SAT score or a 29 composite A.C.T. score, at the same school, will earn you a $9000 scholarship per year. So, a mere 150 point increase on the S.A.T., or a 3 point increase on the A.C.T., can secure you $3,000 extra dollars per year, for a scholarship total of $36,000. That’s not too shabby for a relatively small initial investment!

Better Scores Can Get You In
Sometimes, even the best students struggle with standardized tests. Just because you perform well in class and study hard to get good grades does not mean you know the tricks to doing well on these exams. Unfortunately, this knowledge could make all the difference between getting into your dream school or not, as admissions committees often assign nearly equal weight to standardized test scores and G.P.A.s when they review your application. As such, if you are serious about going to your dream school, have the determination to put in the work but you can’t do it on your own, you should definitely hire outside help. Test prep companies and independent tutors can’t work miracles, but they could provide you with the personalized advice you need to get higher scores.

Not All Companies Were Created Equal
Just like in any other service industry, the results vary from company to company, and from tutor to tutor, even within the same company. In order to make the most of your investment, you should thoroughly research your options. Ask trusted friends or professionals in similar industries for recommendations; read reviews; and meet your tutor in person before signing on. The more legwork you do in advance to ensure that you find someone who gets great results and who you like, the better your chances will be to pick the right test, improve your scores, and reap the financial benefits.

Posted on July 30, 2013 at 3:49 pm

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