Test prep tutors everywhere rejoiced earlier this year when College Board finally admitted that test prep makes a difference. They’re still toeing the line that the SAT is about what students learn in school, but it was good to hear them admit that preparing for a test like the SAT or ACT helps students do better on the tests.
It was something everyone else pretty much already knew.
At Bybee College Prep, we track student progress from the time they enter one of our programs through their last practice test. We’ve discovered that our Test Prep Boot Camp consistently helps students improve their composite scores 120-150 points on the SAT and 3-5 points on the ACT in just a few weeks.
What those numbers don’t show is what that means to schools and students.
The Big Picture
Last year we had the chance to work with a school district to implement a program aimed helping more students achieve National Merit recognition. The goal was for the district to build a program that they could support on their own without tremendous outside help. We would train the teachers and help with administrative tasks like tracking scores.
The big picture looked great. While the state of Texas’s PSAT scores increased an average of 19 points, the school district reported an overall increase of 27 points, more than a 40% greater improvement than the state average. Most of that could be attributed to the 80+ students we helped ahead of the PSAT.
Even better, 6 students in the district were named National Merit Semifinalists compared to 1 last year, and that’s with the cutoff score increasing one point. The school district also almost doubled the number of National Merit Commended students in just one year. And that was working against a tougher standard. At the 2016 cutoff, they would have had 8 Semifinalists.
The Individual Picture
What that means for students is even better. It’s no coincidence that National Merit qualifiers tend to be strong students already. Most were going to be competitive applicants for spots at selective schools; however, a few were not. We were able to help a half-dozen or so improve their composite scores over 200 points in just 5 weeks. One month’s worth of effort opened a multitude of new opportunities for them.
One student raised his score from a 1110 to a 1420 over the course of the program. He likely would have done better on the PSAT than a 1110, and he could have broken 1400 on his own. Nonetheless, by working closely with the teachers, he was able to achieve National Merit Commended status this year.
Even more importantly, we pushed the students in the program to take an SAT right around the time they were working with the teachers. Many of the students who qualified for a National Merit award now also have a test score that will help their admissions and could help them qualify for additional scholarships.
What Averages Don’t Say
That’s the thing that averages don’t tell you. Did every student make dramatic improvements? No. Did we make a strong average improvement? Absolutely. But as you break down the results into what they mean for the 30-something kids we were able to help, the results look even better.
We know that if students use the strategies we teach along with what they already know, we can get them over the 1360/30 threshold that is important when it comes to test scores. We’ve also had plenty of students end up in the 140-1500/32+ range. The results from the school program continue to demonstrate that the program we’ve developed gets results, and we’re thankful to have had the opportunity to help so many students.
Contact us if you’d like to learn the over 50 strategies we’ve developed helping hundreds of students earn National Merit awards. Schedule an Introductory Consultation or find out about our test prep programs.