Should You Get a Tutor for the SAT and ACT?
When it comes to the SAT and ACT, high scores mean a greater chance getting into college. Although there are many other important aspects of your college application, it's imperative that students do their best on these tests.
Fortunately, there's help. Many test preparation materials are available online, some of which include real test questions and previously used tests. Sometimes, however, the attention of a personal tutor makes all the difference. If you're considering hiring a private SAT or ACT tutor, take a look at the advantages and disadvantages.
Tutors Help Plan for Tests
SAT and ACT tutors — whether they're private or work for a test-prep company — have developed systems that help students manage their study time wisely. The best tutors also cater to individual students. To make the most of your SAT or ACT tutor, take a practice test to determine what you need to work on. Your tutor will review your preliminary scores and come up with a plan to help you improve.
Tutors Motivate You
Although most of your study time should be spent reviewing old tests, learning new methods and answering test questions on your own can keep you motivated. A tutor can monitor your progress. Tutors that give assignments also hold you accountable for finishing them, so if you find yourself struggling to study on your own, consider the structure a tutor could bring.
Tutors Cater to Your Needs
Unlike SAT or ACT preparation classes, tutors help students with the areas they struggle with. If you consistently score low on one section or get confused by one type of question, a tutor will identify these weaknesses and work to correct them. Many tutors also give great, personalized tips for taking tests more efficiently.
Tutors are Expensive
Here's the catch: Tutors cost money, sometimes a lot. Tutors can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 an hour, which can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on how much help you receive. For some students, this can be a worthwhile investment, but the cost of private tutoring can be prohibitive for others.
If that price tag puts you off, consider hiring a tutor for one or two hyper-focused sessions where all you do is work on the areas of each test where you need the most improvement. Tutoring agencies aren't likely to do this. There are many private tutors with more flexible schedules, though. Consider talking to your high school's college counselor as well: Some schools offer limited test-taking resources.
Tutors Can't Guarantee Success
Despite what many private tutors and test-taking agencies say, they can’t guarantee success. In the end, it's all up to you. Tutors can be a great resource for students who've already taken these tests once or twice already and are struggling to improve or students who have a hard time studying on their own, but they can't make you succeed. You'll have to apply their feedback, internalize their strategies and work hard before and during your test to do well.