Question #1: What Type of Student is the Class Designed for?
Students start at such widely different places in preparing for this exam that the same class will not work for every one of them. Some students struggle with math and need intensive instruction on SAT math. Other students are very strong in math and only need a focused review and to learn the specific strategies for the toughest math problems.
Using Starting SAT Scores
Is there a large imbalance between your daughter’s scores on the different sections? For example, her score in math may be much higher than her scores in critical reading and writing. In this case, you will want to find a class focused on her weak areas or else find a one-on-one program that will personalize the program for her needs.
Are her scores fairly balanced in the three different sections? Then her overall score will be a good indication of what type of class will work best for her.
A good test prep company will analyze your child’s PSAT score and/or give your child an assessment test to determine her starting score. You can then find a class that is designed for students needing more background material (scores 1200-1550) or a class that is designed for students starting in a higher score range (1550-1800). I recommend that students starting with scores lower than 1200 and higher than 1800 avoid classes and sign up for a one-on-one program or a focused self-study program.
Question #2: What Score Increase Can Your Child Achieve?
How much your child’s SAT score improves will depend greatly on the amount of time and effort that she puts into preparing for this exam. However, this question is still worth asking to determine how realistic the test prep company is about the results of the class.
Question #3: How Much Effort Will it Take?
Putting in the time to complete assignments is not enough for a significant score increase on the SAT. A good test prep company will discuss the amount of time and effort that will be required to achieve a high score on the SAT.
Question #4: Is the Teacher a Good Match?
You should also evaluate whether the teacher is a good match for your daughter. Will the teacher keep your daughter engaged and motivated to work her hardest? Will she push hard enough to get your daughter to put in the extra effort that is required to excel on this difficult exam?
You should also stop and carefully consider whether your daughter has the drive to put in the extra level of effort that will be required of her. If she doesn’t have that drive on her own, you may want to consider whether a one-on-one program will be a better match for her.
In the next two posts of this series on choosing the best SAT class for your child, I will discuss questions to ask about the class materials, how practice tests will be reviewed, how much homework should be assigned, and class size.