The Benefits of Using a Combination of Methods for Standardized Test Prep

Standardized tests are an integral part of students’ academic careers – from CRCTs in elementary and middle school, to the PSAT, SAT and ACT in high school, to even the GRE, LSAT and MCAT in college/graduate school, students are constantly being evaluated to determine if they should or should not be able to move to the next academic level.

The SAT and ACT are two of the most common standardized tests that students seek help for, as these tests can determine college admissions (and scholarships) and therefore tend to come with a lot of pressure. This help can come in the form of test prep books, online programs, group courses, and private tutoring. Research has shown that test prep is positively associated with an increase in test scores (Dulin, 2017; Briggs, 2001; NACAC, 2009). And while all of the test prep methods listed above are great ways to prepare for the test individually, students need a combination of the above methods to truly see the biggest increase in their scores. Here’s why:

· Students need access to test prep books or online practice tests in order to complete practice on their own. As cliché as it sounds, practice really does make perfect when it comes to standardized tests. Students should spend time each week in the months leading up to their test working through practice tests and scoring themselves to measure their progress. However, the issue that comes into play when students only use practice materials on their own is that they aren’t able to ask questions about the problems or concepts that they are confused about. Which leads to the next point…

· In a private tutoring setting, students are able to not only complete more practice, but get more out of their practice. They have a tutor there to show them how to work through problems, and they are able to ask questions when they do not understand something. Group courses also offer the chance for students to have an instructor work through problems in front of them; however, the more students that are in the course, the less individualized attention and help each student will receive, which is something that some students truly need.

· Private tutoring, group courses, and online programs allow students to not only improve in their understanding of concepts, but learn test-taking and time-management strategies as well, which will help them feel more confident going into the test. These strategies, along with gaining confidence in their test-taking skills, has been shown to help students improve their scores significantly (Briggs, 2001).

· Many ACT and SAT prep tutors and tutoring centers are also knowledgeable about the college application process as a whole, and can serve as great resources for questions and help during that process.

Let us help your student achieve these benefits! At FAST, we offer private tutoring sessions and small group tutoring sessions geared toward tests such as the SSAT, PSAT, SAT, ACT, and GRE. Our tutors are specially trained and can focus on specific areas of the test or the test as a whole. Check out for more information about our programs and pricing!


Briggs, Derek C. (2001) The Effect of Admissions Test Preparation: Evidence from NELS:88, CHANCE, 14:1, 10-18.

Dulin, Jane (2017). The Effect of an SAT Prep Course on SAT Scores at a Low Income Urban School. Goucher College Master of Education Action Research.

National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC); Briggs, Derek C. (2009). Preparation for college exams: A NACAC discussion paper. Alexandria: National Association of College Admissions Counseling.

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