The Bottom Line: SAT vs. ACT Prep

There are a few key factors for high school students to take into consideration if they want to be admitted to the college or university of their choice. For one, you must possess a good academic transcript, or at least demonstrate continual progress in terms of your grade point average. Along with good grades, you’ll need to display involvement in extracurricular activities; whether it be fine arts, athletics, student government, or another activity. Colleges really look for students who have extracurricular participation in addition to good grades. The last component which most students are evaluated on and dread is their SAT or ACT score.

Many students fail to take advantage of the prep courses that are offered for these standardized tests. Students have multiple ways in which to prepare for these tests that may not have been afforded to people who took the tests in the past. You have your traditional prep courses or your “walk-in” prep classes where you come into a classroom setting to prepare for your test. With these traditional prep classes, you usually take practice tests and are given extensive tools and tips on how to make the highest score on the test. Contrary to traditional “walk-in” classes, you have online prep classes, in which you are allowed to work at your own pace. With online classes, you are given tools and online resources that are exclusively accessible to you wherever and whenever you want.

Now let’s break down some of the differences between the two that could make or break your chances of obtaining the test score you want and being admitted to the school of your dreams. The first difference is that some of the traditional classes are only held in major cities compared to being able to access online classes from anywhere and at any time. Most traditional classes are offered either first thing in the morning or not until the evening. Online instructor availability is not as accessible or questions may be lost in translation via e-mail, as opposed to traditional classes where you can simply just ask the instructor and follow up or clarify questions on the spot.

As these factors may make a difference for an individual’s success on the test, it truly comes down to the student’s willingness to learn and their desire to excel on these exams. With traditional classes, you have face-to-face contact with instructors as opposed to the online classes where you must lead the instruction yourself. Some popular online websites that many people use are Kaplan Learning and Princeton Review. One of the most popular nationally known traditional classes is TestMasters, which provides test prep for more than just college entrance exams. Junior economics major at Howard University, Dylan Hawkins had a dual perspective of TestMasters by taking their online courses and being a “walk-in” to the traditional classes. “TestMasters was beneficial. It taught me the tools I needed to answer SAT style questions and the proper way to narrow down correct answers.” Due to extracurricular activities, Hawkins had to take an online portion of the class. “I felt that you get more from the instructors with the face-to-face interaction in the classroom setting.”

Every student has their different learning styles, schedules, and range for what score they’d like to achieve and which school they would like to attend. An online study showed that ZAPs Test Prep seminar increased ACT test scores by nearly 85% and students saw a jump in 3 points, which is a pretty significant jump in terms of ACT scoring. With the numerous tools available online, a number of resources exist in which an individual can prepare for tests and earn a desirable score on those exams. From online programs like Kaplan Learning and Princeton Review, to the traditional face-to-face classes like TestMasters and seminars like ZAPs that provide classroom setting learning, with helpful tips and skills; many factors contribute to the outcome of a test score. The bottom line is that it all depends on your personal preference, time, availability, and willingness to learn.