You’re Taking Classes Remotely . . . Should You Take SAT and ACT Prep Classes Online Too?

This has been a dream year for people who dislike standardized tests.

Across America, colleges and universities have dropped the requirement that applicants take the SAT or the ACT. They’ve become what was once called “test-optional.” The story is reflected in headlines like these:

  • “Colleges Are Waiving the SAT and ACT because of Coronavirus,” New York Times, May 21, 2020
  • “Harvard, Princeton and Stanford Go Test Optional,” Inside Higher Ed, June 22, 2020
  • “7 Ivy League Schools Will Not Require SATs or ACTs Next Year,”

What Should Students Do?

Because students who are applying for college admission in 2021 won’t have to take the SAT or ACT, they should be able to forget about the tests, and “walk away whistling” while they turn their attention to their college essays, to letters of recommendation and to the many other details of applying to college.

But what about younger students – those who will be applying for 2022, and younger kids? Should they simply decide that standardized tests have gone away for good and forget about preparing? (Obviously, all the for-profit companies that are offering test-prep classes and tutoring are hoping that the current hiatus in requiring the tests is only temporary.)

We can’t predict the future, but it seems unlikely that standardized tests are about to disappear. Colleges will probably start to require them again after the pandemic goes away. One reason is that the tests still offer a way to compare applicants to each other in a way that cannot be done by comparing GPAs. Another reason is that the companies behind the ACT and SAT are not about to fold their tents and go quietly away; they’ve been in business for decades, they are powerful, and they will continue to press the argument that they offer a valuable service to students and colleges.

Incidentally, one online test-prep service is pitching the idea that students should take the SAT this year, just to demonstrate to colleges that they are “academically prepared.” Well . . . maybe. It seems doubtful that students and their families will pay more than $1,000 to take this company’s test-preparation classes in order to provide a non-required test score to admissions offices.

Hedging Our Bets

Rather than assuming that it is no longer necessary to take test-prep classes or tutoring sessions, students who will be entering college in 2022 or later would probably be smart to continue to prepare for standardized tests. But instead of signing up for big-ticket tutoring, how about taking classes online?

Here are some online prep options to consider . . .

  • The Khan Academy offers a number of free, high-quality test-prep classes for the SAT and the ACT.
  • The Princeton Review continues to offer it online SAT prep program. Be aware that it costs $1,299.00.
  • Kaplan Test Prep offers a variety of online SAT and ACT prep classes that start at about $149.00.
  • ACT offers a range of its own ACT prep classes online. Note that some of them have been developed jointly with Kaplan.

Plus, Prepping for the Tests Could Provide Other Benefits

Preparing for the ACT and the SAT can help students develop critical thinking skills that can help them perform better on other tests they take in school. The bottom line is that if a student has the time and money to take prep classes, why not?

But isn’t it great that for the time being at least, the pressure to score high on these tests has gone away?

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