The D.C. area: Obsessed with SAT scores
If you have any doubt just how obsessed folks in the Washington area are with getting their children into college, you need look no further than the Washington Post’s list of best-selling books.
In the latest list of book sales among area residents, the No. 1 book under paperback Nonfiction/General for the week ending April 18 was “Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda,” by Sean Hannity.
That book has nothing to do with getting kids into college, but look at what was right behind it, at No. 2:
This study guide, which sells for $21.99, is advertised as offering practice tests created by the same folks who make the SAT, as well as test-taking “tips” and advice on writing the essay, which is part of the test.
A quick glance of the paperback New York Times bestsellers on the Nonfiction list as well as the Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous list, shows that nary a book has anything to do with college admissions.
The top book on the Times’ Nonfiction paperback list was also “Conservative Victory,” but No. 2 was, “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” by comedian Chelsea Handler. Eight out of the 10 books on the Advice list are about food, how to cook it or how not to eat it.
The SAT guide is only one of the many products -- some free, some not -- offered by the College Board, which says that coaching on the SAT can’t really produce big score gains and recommends that students take only no more than twice. The Web site of the College Board says:
“Most students take the SAT once or twice. We don’t recommend taking it more than twice because there’s no evidence that taking the SAT multiple times significantly changes your score.”
Of course, if you want to take it more than twice, the College Board’s Web site is helpful with a study plan, tailored to how much time you have to study. I went to the Web site’s Study Plan section.
For someone who has taken the SAT at least once and has one to three months to study, it says:
“So you’ve taken the SAT. Smart move – you’re already ahead of the game. Now’s your chance to improve your performance, and with one to three months to prepare, you can do just that.”
Wouldn’t you know it? Step five is trying the “Official SAT Online Course,” described as a “low-cost tool” that features interactive lessons and 10 practice tests. It’s only $69.95!
Of course, that is inexpensive when you consider that private tutors can cost hundreds of dollars an hour. On the other hand, the College Board is nonprofit, and, as a policy, says studying can’t help a score too much. Why charge people for materials to practice for a test they have to pay to take?
The next SAT administration is May 1, and the one after that is June 5. Good news: If your child has taken the SAT three or four times already and you did not get him/her signed up in time for the May date, registration is still open for June.
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| April 26, 2010; 10:05 AM ET
Categories: College Admissions, SAT and ACT | Tags: SAT, college admissions, college board, official sat study guide, sat test advice, tips on taking the sat
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