When we hear the term “test prep,” we often imagine students studying beefy textbooks or signing up for an SAT class that typically lasts two months.

These traditional test prep strategies usually amount to basic exposure to the test along with assimilation of a set of tips that, given skill sets, may optimize performance on the test.

But the problem is that these tactics don’t effectively improve SAT/ACT scores to any significant degree.

For example, a 2009 study found that the national test prep improvement average for the old SAT (3 sections totaling 2400 points) hovered around only 30 points. When adjusted for the new SAT, which features only two sections totaling 1600 points, the average point improvement is even less. Critical reading test prep has proven especially ineffective; although the test prep market has ballooned in the past 30 years, average critical reading scores have actually gone down.

So, what’s going on? Is it really possible to change SAT and ACT scores? And if so, how?

What it takes to significantly change SAT and ACT scores

To see a significant change in an SAT or ACT score, students need to fundamentally change their ability to think critically and improve reading comprehension, not just learn memorization techniques and test shortcuts. Here’s why:

  • Test takers need to pick up more than just “tricks.” When our Streamline Tutors’ students experience 200+ and 5+ average point improvements on the SAT and ACT (respectively), they’ve picked up more than just a set of test hacks or memorization tricks. Our students experience a fundamental shift in their critical thinking abilities.
  • Serious prep begins with reading. Analytical skills acquisition is directly related to reading comprehension level. In other words, you must improve your basic reading comprehension skills to improve your ability to effectively analyze information on the exam. There’s no quick way around this. It takes time and commitment.

Why our SAT / ACT test prep approach is successful

At Streamline Tutors, we attribute our ability to dramatically improve students’ SAT and ACT scores to our unique online tool SmartyReader, a platform that ensures good grades in high school translate to stand-out scores on the SAT and ACT. Here’s how it works:

  • SmartyReader begins with the Smarticle, our proprietary interactive online exercise that holistically builds skills in reading, grammar, and math. This exercise works specifically to enhance reading comprehension ability.
  • SmartyReader turns critical thinking acquisition into a game: Students accumulate points as they improve and unlock prizes by competing in reading, grammar, and math competitions. As students progress, so do their critical thinking and analytical skills. This gives them the important tools they’ll need to truly improve their SAT or ACT score.

This summer, we’re excited to extend FREE access to SmartyReader to students across Baltimore who wish to participate in our pilot program from June 1st – October 15th! This fantastic opportunity is available to rising sophomores and juniors at participating schools in the area. Contact us if you think your school would be interested in partnering with SmartyReader.

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Ian Siegel

For more information about how to navigate the college tract, contact director of Streamline Tutors, Ian Siegel who specializes in college counseling, test prep, and academic coaching. You can visit his...