The Value of Test Prep

Over the past several decades, tutoring and test prep programs have become commonplace. In some areas, the question for families is not whether their children will enroll in a test prep program but where they will enroll. It’s hardly surprising, then, that many families find themselves wondering whether test prep programs really work.

When done right, test prep programs provide students with a wide range of benefits, from higher test scores to stronger study skills to improved confidence. The key to a successful test prep program, like those offered at C2 Education, is personalization: No two students are exactly alike, so their test prep shouldn’t be exactly alike either.

Do Test Prep Programs Increase Scores?

Test creators like the College Board have long argued that test prep programs don’t significantly boost scores, a flawed argument that ignores the wide range of available programs. Recently, however, the College Board announced that certain test prep programs actually could result in score gains. In a statement released on May 8, 2017, the College Board shared results of a year-long study of scores on the redesigned SAT that found that test prep through the College Board’s Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy was associated with significant SAT score gains.

Not all test prep programs are created equal. It’s worth noting that the College Board’s study was limited to students who utilized Khan Academy resources for test prep; it did not examine the effects of other test prep programs. In a statement to the Washington Post, College Board spokesman Zachary Goldberg attributed the score increases to “practice that is personalized to pinpoint areas where learners need additional help,” nothing that “preparing for the new SAT is the same as preparing for college.”

What Are the Benefits of Test Prep?

A good test prep program should, of course, strive to increase test scores, but it should also help students to master skills beyond test-taking. To succeed in a test prep program, students must also learn time management and organization skills, general study skills, and key foundational skills in reading, writing, and math, all of which help students succeed far beyond test day.

C2 Education’s teachers help students to increase test scores by becoming more effective learners. They tailor their approach to each individual student in order to help that student discover the learning methods that best suit his or her particular needs. Such an approach doesn’t just create better test takers – it creates better students.

Do Test Scores Translate to Future Success?

Both the College Board and ACT, Inc. cite research indicating that higher scores on their tests correlate with greater success in college, and this makes sense. After all, the skills necessary to succeed on the SAT or ACT – self-motivation, consistent effort, strong problem-solving, and a sturdy  foundation of knowledge – are the very skills necessary for success in college.

When Should Test Prep Start?

Test prep is a marathon, not a sprint. Ideally, students should begin preparing for the SAT or ACT months in advance, particularly if they hope for large score gains. It takes time to properly build the skills that result in true academic success.

C2 Education has long recognized the benefits of a personalized, holistic approach to test prep. A C2 Education program goes beyond simply drilling students on SAT or ACT questions to ensure that students focus on building the foundational skills necessary for success not only on standardized tests but also in the classroom and in college.

Blog Author: Ashley Zahn
Ashley joined C2 Education in 2008. Since then, she has been instrumental in developing C2 Education’s unique line of curriculum materials, helped hundreds of students through C2 Education’s college admission essay help service, and shared her expertise in the fields of education and college admissions through the C2 Education blog.