Based on recent headlines alone you might get the sense that the SAT and the ACT represent anything from – the true mark of your student’s worth and one that celebrities and executives would spend millions on to best “help” their kid – to becoming irrelevant in the college application process. As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in between.
While hedge fund CEOs and movie stars paid big money to cheat on these tests, this will neither help your child to succeed nor be worth the investment, let alone a complete ethical violation. At the same time, you ignore these tests at your own peril. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic threw an unforeseeable wrench in standardized testing by leading many colleges to change their standardized testing requirements to “test-optional,” the SAT and ACT can still help your child get into college and help save you money to pay for said college.
Given the schedule our students keep between extracurriculars, homework, self-care, sports, hobbies, and any social time they can squeeze in means they should be wary of adding one more thing to the mix. But for pure return on investment taking an SAT or ACT prep course and spending some time practicing could pay off way more than other endeavors. An additional 10-15 hours will not get that C to an A, get that bench spot on the team to the star player, or that violin chair to first. But that amount of time preparing for the SAT could both improve your college options and your potential for lucrative scholarships.
We at The Answer Class still believe that taking the SAT is a great use of a handful of hours on a Saturday, since a student’s scores have so much potential for helping them in the college application process. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Colleges still respect and widely use the SAT (and the ACT) as one of the main factors used in the college application process.
The SAT has been around for almost 100 years, and while it looks a little different (and will look even more different when it goes digital next year) over 1.5 million students per year take it to improve their chances to get into college. And only a handful of four-year colleges don’t look at the SAT and ACT at all.
2. Colleges’ standardized testing requirements may change, so all the more reason you should prepare.
While hundreds of schools went “test-optional” before the pandemic, many more chose that route since then, although many only did it as a temporary measure. Taking the SAT or ACT means that a student will have scores ready to send, no matter how policies change.
3. While many schools have gone “test-optional” many still require the SAT or ACT as part of the application process.
University of Florida, Georgetown University, University of Georgia, and Georgia Tech are four examples of popular and strong schools which require standardized test scores as a requirement of applying to their university. In addition, for the schools that went “test-optional,” submitting scores can still greatly help your application. You want to do everything to enhance your application so if you score higher than the median for that school it can increase your chances of admissions.
4. Good SAT scores can open up more scholarship opportunities.
Many schools use standardized test scores (in addition to GPA) to help determine who receives a “merit scholarship.” These can bring scholarships in the tens of thousands of dollars and thus greatly reduce the cost of attending college.
5. Choosing to take the SAT is a portion of the college application process that students can actually control.
Many parts of a student’s college application package have been building for a long time or are largely out of their control such as GPA, class rank, extra-curriculars, etc. Conversely, the SAT represents a shorter-term commitment that a student can choose to make to likely improve their future college applications. Also, when the SAT is taken early enough, a student can even choose to prepare and retake the SAT, a rare opportunity for a second chance.
In the grand scheme of college and college application preparation, the SAT is a low investment of time and money (for some students – but students with financial hardship should absolutely apply for a fee waiver) for a potentially large reward. It’s not possible for students to pinpoint exactly which parts of their applications made them attractive to a college, but it makes sense that students would want to add as many elements as possible to make their best case for acceptance. Think of it like offering the college a whole meal of different foods rather than a snack or two.
As we mentioned earlier, students don’t have countless hours of their free time to spend on extra projects, which is why we recommend taking an SAT class instead of trying to prepare by themselves. Our affordable prep class is only eight hours and covers all aspects of the SAT – without wasting time or money. It also leaves students with a firm direction for any future studying, which helps them minimize their time spent to focus only on the topics that they need to review. Classes are offered throughout the year, so students should register now!