Why SAT and ACT Tutoring Makes Sense, Even for Smart Students

Standardized TestThis post is a reprint from Danh Le of Underground Academy.  Underground Academy specializes in individual online PSAT, SAT and ACT tutoring.  I think this approach makes sense and I am going to try it for my middle daughter.  As Danh mentions, high scores can increase the possibility of full-tuition / full-ride scholarships.  Check out my Full Scholarship List to see many of these great opportunities and check out Underground Academy for more information on this great tutoring option.

Why You Need a SAT and ACT Tutor Even if Your Child is “Smart”

A common question I get from parents is
“I have a bright child.  Why should I still get tutoring?”Up until a few years ago, I didn’t think tutoring was that valuable. Growing up, I never had a tutor, and I was fine self-studying. However, I finally realized I had something I rarely find in students I tutor: well-defined goals and lots of intrinsic (inner) motivation.  Also I did not have too many extracurricular activities to distract me or take up my time. These things allowed me to get away with not having a tutor.

Well-Defined Goals and Motivation Within

I wanted to get an 800 or as high as possible due to several reasons:1) Increased options where I could go to college
2) I understood the math behind the loans and debt of college, so wanted increased scholarship chances.
3) Possibilities of getting full-tuition/ full-ride scholarships just due to 2 numbers: test scores and gpa.  I hate essay writing, participated in only in a few clubs (none leadership positions), and knew the SAT and ACT tests gave me the most efficient way to get this free money
4) I’ve always been a straight A student, so it bugged my ego that I couldn’t score high my first couple times with this test.

These goals pushed me to succeed and find out as much as I could about the test and do all the things that a regular smart student wouldn’t do.

The Problem With Smart Students

Smart students think their good school scores automatically translate over to  high test scores and so are lackadaisical the first one or two times they take the test.  The truth is a good GPA rarely translates over to high test scores the first time the test is taken.  The SAT and ACT test different things from a normal high school curriculum, and students need to learn the skill of beating the test.  Unfortunately, most parents are too late in the preparation (which is primarily the fault of the school system) that by the time students take this once or twice, it’s already the end of junior year and the low scores are worrisome

How Tutoring Fixes the Problem

So tutoring makes the entire process more efficient regardless of what level the student is at.  I know exactly what materials to use, how to use them, and where to find extra FREE help outside of tutoring and other free resources, thus saving a lot of time.  I pinpoint the errors that a student is making and show the steps needed to correct it.  Having regular meetings also helps the student be accountable to doing her work on a strict schedule.I try to go one step further by discussing and teaching life skills such as goal setting, stress management, better study habits, and improved productivity.

The thing I or anyone else in the world can’t do is get the student to open the book and do the work when I’m not around.  Score increases are 20% the tutor, 80% the student.  As you can see, the potential downside of tutoring is if the student thinks having a tutor automatically guarantees score increases and thus doesn’t work as hard as she should because she thinks the tutor will bail her out.  Even in these situations the score with tutoring should be better than without tutoring. How much so, unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you since it has too many other factors.

A Prescription for a Better SAT and ACT Score

So the best thing to do would be to cultivate intrinsic motivation + tutoring.  That would allow for the biggest score increases.  I’m okay with extrinsic motivation but if I were really good I’d be charging a lot more.  But no matter how good the outside motivation is, if the student doesn’t want it bad enough, she won’t get her highest potential score. Cultivating intrinsic motivation requires tinkering with the 4 reasons I mentioned above to suit your child’s personality and wants.  If your child doesn’t understand how much money will be automatically deducted from her paycheck month after month for years after college, show her some calculations. (Make sure to translate it to something they understand, like actual hours of work.) Perhaps your child wants to travel or wants a car.  If she studies hard enough to get a huge scholarship, I think that’d save you enough money to get her something nice that she wants.2nd best thing is probably just cultivating intrinsic motivation.  If you believe your child has the will, find some SAT or ACT materials and books off amazon.com or from the library.  Alternatively, for a fee, I can set a student up with all the tools I use, so she can go through them at her own pace.

3rd best would be tutoring alone.

Whatever you do, it’s a smart decision to act earlier rather than later (that is, 2nd semester of junior year when AP time is around and end of year projects, finals, etc consume a ton of a student’s time)

Best of luck

You can find more information about SAT and ACT tutoring on the Underground Academy website.

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