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How To Craft Effective SAT Prep Courses at Your School

April 28, 2024

Students standing in front of a school with backpacks on

As your students prepare for adulthood, many will be considering college, and one crucial component of the college admissions process is the SAT. 

That’s why leading schools spend significant amounts of time and resources helping their students prepare for the SAT. They understand that SAT prep courses are vital for building student confidence and enhancing overall student success and college readiness. 

If you’ve yet to build an SAT prep course at your school, or you’re looking to improve your current curriculum, this article can help. Here, we’ll dive into the benefits of SAT prep courses, how to assess your school’s preparation needs, and what to include in your curriculum to ensure your students succeed. 

Exploring the Significance of SAT Prep for College Admissions

While it’s no longer mandatory for students to submit their SAT scores to many colleges in the United States, achieving and sharing a strong SAT score can do wonders. 

An outstanding SAT performance shows colleges that a student has achieved the level of readiness required to thrive in higher education. As a result, they’re more likely to receive acceptance — especially if they also have a strong ACT score, great academic records, and extracurriculars on their college application too. 

On top of that, undertaking SAT prep helps students acclimate to the college environment and the different pace of learning. Research from the College Board exploring the experiences of first-year college students with the same high school grades reaffirms this benefit. 

According to the study, the students with higher SAT scores tended to have better first-year college grades and retention rates than those who didn’t take the test. These findings highlight how pivotal SAT prep is — not just for admissions, but for overall college readiness. 

Benefits of Offering SAT Prep Courses at Schools

While students can study for the SAT on their own time, a structured SAT test prep course is a much more effective method. Here’s a closer look at why.  

Enhanced Academic Confidence

Any student can buy SAT practice materials, but finding the motivation and time for self-paced study can be challenging. We sometimes forget that students tend to live busy, eventful lives and have responsibilities outside of education. 

Moreover, would-be test takers won’t be able to lean on an educator to guide them through any test questions they get stuck on.

In contrast, when you develop a structured SAT test prep course at your school, you give your students the best possible chance of SAT success. Through regular SAT practice tests, tips and strategies, and personalized learning paths, you’ll help your students see score improvement and walk into test day with confidence. 

Improved College Admission Chances

Taking a holistic, structured approach to SAT prep improves students’ chances of getting into their chosen colleges. 

In fact, great SAT course programs can be positively game-changing for students, enabling them to apply for colleges they might have previously thought were out of reach. A great overall college admission rate, in turn, boosts your school’s competitiveness. 

More Inclusive Student Opportunities

Only some families within your school can afford private SAT and ACT tuition. Inadvertently, this creates an uneven playing field, where some students are more likely to achieve a high SAT score due to tutoring, while others are ill-prepared for the SAT.

In fact, data from the New York Times shows that students from high-income families are much more likely to achieve higher test scores than others. The good news is that you can combat these inequalities by offering a school-based SAT prep program, ensuring that every student gets the opportunity to prepare and succeed. 

How To Assess Your School’s SAT Preparation Needs

Every school and every student is different, so it’s crucial to take a tailored approach to roll out an SAT prep program. Here are the critical success factors to consider. 

Consider Student Concerns and Goals

To ensure maximum impact, your SAT prep program should include course materials that align with your students’ aspirations, test concerns, and goals.

We recommend conducting digital surveys, asking your students questions like:

  • What are your main concerns about the SAT? 
  • What SAT score are you hoping to achieve? 
  • What colleges would you like to apply to? 
  • What would you like to get from enrolling in an SAT prep course? 
  • What is your preferred learning format: in-person, hybrid learning, or LIVE online?

Armed with these answers, you can then begin to tailor your SAT prep class approach to meet your students’ needs and concerns. 

Review Previous SAT Performance Data

In addition to gathering student feedback, exploring previous SAT performance data is also wise. 

Analyzing past results to find patterns will help you identify where your students tend to perform well and where they could use more in-depth support. This will help you further refine your prep program to address common deficiencies. 

Evaluate Available Resources

Implementing an SAT prep course requires generous time and resource commitments from knowledgeable and skilled instructors. Unfortunately, with the current teacher shortage, many schools find it challenging to identify internal staff with the experience and bandwidth to deliver effective SAT programs. 

Thankfully, educational institutions like Elevate K-12 are democratizing access to qualified teachers for SAT prep. With Elevate, all your school needs to provide is a large TV, a reliable Wi-Fi connection, and a laptop for each student.

Elevate’s experienced, qualified teachers can take it from there, designing and leading a bespoke SAT prep program for your school so your students can reach their full potential. 

Think About Scheduling and Accessibility

Scheduling is another crucial factor to consider when designing your SAT or ACT prep program. With students often participating in extracurricular activities or relying on family for transport, finding feasible times for everyone can be challenging.

To ensure that all interested students can participate, offering a program with embedded flexibility is vital. At Elevate K-12, for example, we provide small group and online summer school classes with flexible times and lengths to suit a wide range of student needs.

By taking this approach, you’ll ensure that every interested student can prepare for their test date. 

What To Include in a Comprehensive SAT Prep Curriculum

Once you’ve determined your students’ needs, it’s time to think about the intricacies of implementation. 

The most critical aspect of successful program delivery is enlisting a teacher of the highest caliber and knowledge. The ideal prep expert will have a deep understanding of the SAT exam and how to effectively teach students with different learning styles and abilities.  

As for the SAT prep curriculum itself, these are the primary aspects you’ll need to include: 

Core Content Review

The SAT comprises three key sections: evidence-based reading, writing, math, and an optional essay.

Your students must learn about each of these sections in detail. Your teacher should deliver structured lessons exploring the SAT’s fundamental concepts. 

In addition, they should cover practice questions, quizzes, and strategies that help students answer the types of questions they are likely to encounter on the SAT. 

If you have students who want to take the SAT essay portion, include prep options that help the class learn how to write a successful response. 

Practice Tests

Just talking through practice questions isn’t enough to equip your students for SAT success. To maximize your learners’ success, your program should include full-length practice tests that simulate the real-world testing environment. 

Implementing practice exams will help your students learn to manage their time under test conditions. These prep tests also acclimate students to the emotional stress that accompanies exams. 

On top of that, these tests are invaluable for discovering where individual students need more support. By assessing each test, the teacher can deliver personalized study plans to help students better understand their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. 

Test-Taking Strategies

A great teacher will also help students learn specific test-taking strategies that maximize their chances of success. 

Using their knowledge of the SAT, they can empower students to manage their time efficiently, avoid common pitfalls, and use the process of elimination to answer questions effectively. 

Mental Preparation

It’s fair to say that most people — adults, teens, and children alike — don’t love taking standardized tests like the SAT exam. Before and during these tests, it’s common for students to become overwhelmed or experience anxiety. Unfortunately, this can hamper their ability to perform at their best.

An excellent SAT prep program will tackle emotional impact directly. Educators can offer students advice to help them stay calm and maintain their focus during the exam, even as complicated feelings arise. 

Again, this is why it’s so crucial to choose an experienced, knowledgeable teacher to deliver your SAT tutoring. A high-caliber teacher will understand the influence of stress and anxiety on student performance and proactively help students prepare for these feelings during test preparation. 

Personalized Learning Support

Because every student is different, with unique strengths, weaknesses, and goals, your program needs to meet a variety of individual needs. By this, we mean it must be personalized.

A blanket approach to SAT prep will only serve part of your class. For everyone to succeed, you need to offer individualized feedback and support, which will help students focus their study efforts on the right areas. 

At Elevate K-12, for example, our small groups and summer lessons enable each student to be seen and heard. Our highly qualified LIVE teachers can prepare tailored SAT learning pathways for each student so they feel confident and supported throughout the SAT prep process. 

Empower Your Students With SAT Prep Through Elevate K-12

Ultimately, a great SAT score equips your students to step into the next big phase of their lives with confidence and capability. And a structured, intentional SAT prep course can help them achieve SAT success.

However, the nationwide teacher shortage makes it difficult for schools to create and deliver SAT prep courses internally. That’s where organizations like Elevate K-12 come in. 

Elevate can reignite your school’s ability to deliver a highly personalized, effective SAT program that boosts student performance. Ready to empower your students to achieve their best? Learn more about Elevate K-12’s small group and SAT prep courses now.

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