“It seems too early, after all, I thought the junior year was when a student should be thinking
about the SAT and ACT”. Famous last words of many a parent who later came back and said to
me, “I wish we would have listened to you.” So, let me lay out the case why your sophomore
(and even younger students) should absolutely be preparing for college entrance exams sooner
rather than later.
- 1MONEY-MONEY-MONEY! If you have a couple hundred thousand dollars saved up,
per child, for college, you can stop now. Or if you do, you may want to give it to your
student after graduation if they have earned a scholarship. Why are test scores tied directly
to money? Rankings! Colleges receive their national rankings based on test scores, so the
highest the score—the more money you get! Perks can include full-ride, free tuition, room
and board, study-aboard stipends, grad school money, etc.
- 2TIMING IS THE KILLER OF OPPORTUNITIES! No one would expect a piano
student to be playing Beethoven after two weeks of lessons or an athlete to play in a
championship after a few practices. To excel in music or sports, students usually need
many months, even years to perfect their talent. It takes twenty deliberate and focused
hours to learn the “fundamentals” of most skills and then students need time to self-correct
any mistakes they are making; continual practicing is then needed to develop and excel in
talent. Test-taking skills are no different. To score high, learning the shortcuts and
strategies are not instant and can’t be expected to be perfected in a short of amount of time.
- 3YOU CAN’T GET TIME BACK! Students do not get more time later but tend to have a
maxed out schedule the older they get. They take on more classes, extra homework, sports,
clubs, church, part-time job, friends, social media...Adding test prep to an already busy
schedule adds tremendous pressure on learning a new skill or having to give-up other
activities to study on how to take the test.
- 4ENDLESS CIRCLE-ENDLESS DEBT! Well-meaning counselors and parents have been
giving students wrong advice for years, such as, “wait until the end of the junior year to prepare for college entrance tests”. When they follow this recommendation, students often discover that their scores are very low, and realize that they have very little time to improve. One option is to spend the summer learning the test and practicing before the senior year. Most choose to use the time to work or just have fun. This results in barely getting into a college and not necessarily their dream school. With a low score, they are forced to take out loans since they can’t qualify for scholarships. The average student spends twenty years paying off college loans and the median debt is 100K.
- 5BEING SMART IS IRRELEVANT! Tests like the SAT, ACT, PSAT, CLT...are not about IQ
but are logic based and not content-based exams. Many valedictorians bomb these tests because smart students approach them like a school test. The questions are purposely misleading, and the wrong answers are tricky and easily picked. Learning the recurring patterns is the key to success because you can’t study for the test but must study the test itself.
- 6FORGET THE GOOD GPA! Students should strive to maintain a good GPA, but it is not the
key to entrance and scholarship money. Colleges know a 4.0 at one school is not the same at
another since they all weigh and calculate their scores differently. The only fair way a college can compare all students equally is a test like the SAT because it levels the playing field. It is the
great equalizer and is the only numerical element that all applicants have in common. 85% of
colleges admit and give money based on test scores alone.
- 7IT’S A BEATABLE TEST! Some students are good test-takers naturally and learning a few
more strategies can put them over the top. Other students tend to be the rule-followers and overthink the questions or second-guess their answers. All students can learn to train their brain to think logically and apply skills to ace tests like the SAT. Students are only given about a minute per question, so they tend to work out the problems the long way and burn up the clock. The good news is that every question can be answered in 30 seconds or less.
- 8WHY COLLEGE PREP GENIUS? With a plethora of test prep companies, where do you begin
to find one that is effective and affordable. Programs can range from several hundred to several
thousand dollars, so what is the difference? Most companies re-teach high school content and
busy work that wastes time and money and frustrates many families. They also use their own fake questions that don’t follow the rules and patterns found on the real test. Even Khan Academy, with its free test prep, is not the answer. Their program instructs the students to work problems the long way and it omits teaching shortcuts and strategies. College Prep Genius shows students how to logically and quickly approach each question with a critical eye and how to not fall for the trick answers. All homework comes from actual College Board questions, so students can practice correctly.
- 9DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT! You can know today if your student needs to start test
prep right now by finding out exactly his or her starting point. Have your student do the
- 1Take the College Board test #1 (download/print it out)
- 2Manually score the test using the answer sheet.
- 3Set up a profile at cappex.com (This site allows you o input the baseline score; it
will create a graph and show you how many students were accepted or denied with the same criterion as your student at each college.)
You can eliminate the “not knowing” or “wish I knew” once you find out your student’s starting point. This can help you create a game plan for test success. Gain peace of mind by being informed long before it is crunch time and scholarship money is on the line.
College Prep Genius is ranked in the Top Ten Best SAT In-Person SAT Programs from "The Best Schools". (This site receives a million views per month.)
If you’re worried about the legacy of College debt then I invite you go watch, How to
Ace the SAT and Get FREE College. I taught my kids how to do this. And since then I have helped literally tens of thousands of students create a better future for themselves. I would love to help you!