Standardized Test Prep

Junior year is very important for many reasons: you need to have strong classes in your schedule, you need to do well in all those classes, you need to begin thinking about college, and of course, you need to take standardized tests, whether that means taking the SAT or the ACT. Students today have access to many organizations and private tutors that help prepare them for these tests.

In the past, such classes and tutoring were not available, which forced students at the time, including some of our faculty members, to self-study. In a survey conducted with 49 faculty members, 47 surveyed did not use private tutoring for their college entrance exams. On the other hand, most of the students nowadays take advantage of some form of private tutoring to get higher scores on standardized tests. A survey given to current DCDS students showed that out of 165 students, 110 of them have used private tutoring and 32 plan to use private tutoring. After asking the students why they chose to use private tutors to help them prepare, 28 students answered that it is what you are “supposed to do.” Another 21 students responded they use tutoring because everyone does it.

Mrs. Anne Sandoval, director of College Counseling at DCDS, gave insight into the change in preparation she has noticed in her twenty-four years of counseling dedication. “Certainly, it has gone from a few seeking extra preparation to a belief that everyone needs special classes and tutoring in order to be successful on these tests,” Mrs. Sandoval said. “As this perceived need for test preparation increased, a private industry grew with it, offering a variety of tutoring and test preparation classes.”

As the perspective changed over time, more and more students started using private tutors. When the College Board realized that the gap in scores between those who prepared with private tutors and those who did not was widening, they began to offer more free online test prep courses than they did three years ago.

“What we recognize in College Counseling is that test prep classes and private tutoring set time aside in a student’s schedule for them to focus on test preparation and practice; more directly stated, they force students to prepare and practice,” Mrs. Sandoval continued. “However, the highly motivated and disciplined student with very little, if any, monetary commitment can prepare by themselves and improve their performance.”

Some students find they work best by themselves with no teacher to guide the way that they study.

“I did not think tutoring would be a useful option for me because all it would do is provide me with resources I could get myself,” Junior Samuel Redman said. “I think all a tutor does is give deadlines that are enforced to some degree. Since I don’t generally have a problem with meeting deadlines, tutors are not incredibly useful for me.”

On the other hand, some students find they work better if some sort of supervising instructor is teaching them and explaining to them how to do well.

Clearly, a lot of changes have been made in student preparation for these tests, but the question is which choice is better between private tutoring or self-studying? You must find your own answer to that question. If you feel like you need guidance and motivation that a tutor could provide you, then tutoring might help you. If you firmly believe that your own methods of studying would help you the most, then self-studying may be the right option for you. In the end, it comes down to a matter of preference.


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