SAT Prep Classes Exaggerate Improvement, Study Finds
Use of own diagnostic tests clouds real results
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2009 10:27 AM CDT
Mynhae Dae solves a math problem during an SAT prep class in Centreville, Va., April 24, 2007.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Many test-prep companies make impressive-sounding guarantees about students’ SAT performance, but an independent study finds that the courses offer little real improvement. Part of the problem may be tutors’ use of too-hard mock tests to judge students’ baseline performance, producing a false inflation that’s used to justify thousands of dollars in fees, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling found that the tutoring programs produce an average benefit of 30 points on the SAT and less than a point on the ACT. Though that increase isn’t really significant, it could still drive students to tutoring, since some schools publish rigid score cutoffs. The SAT's overseer recommends simply practicing the SAT style.