Improving ACT and SAT scores even slightly can make a major difference when it comes to meeting admissions requirements and qualifying for scholarships. Not surprisingly, then, high school students often take steps to study specifically for such tests. Some simply take advantage of ACT and SAT test prep sessions offered at their high schools. Outside of school, free test prep services
--typically offered online--are among the most popular ways to go. Are they "worth it" though? They may not cost money, but they cost time. Unfortunately, many students come away feeling like they wasted theirs and wish they'd invested money in other test prep services.
It Always Pays to Prepare for the ACT and SAT
Whether a student is naturally gifted at taking tests or tends to struggle with them, it's always a good idea to prepare for the ACT and SAT. Merely being a good test taker isn't enough; students need to have a strong grasp of the material. The most successful test takers have familiarized themselves with the content and format of these tests through extensive practice, which reduces their anxiety and allows them to focus on the task at hand. Here's the thing though: Just any test prep service won't do, and free ones rarely deliver the results students deserve.
Free Test Prep Services: Popular but Less Effective
Everyone likes to save money, so it makes sense that students and their parents often start out by exploring free test prep options online. It's safe to say that such services' popularity is almost exclusively due to the fact that they don't cost a dime. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's high in quality. Considering how much is on the line with SAT and ACT testing, it's well worth it to invest actual money into preparing for it.
Learn First, Practice Second
Even bright students can perform poorly on standardized tests because they have fundamental gaps in their understanding of the content. Taking free tests online repeatedly without any feedback about how or why questions are being answered incorrectly doesn't tend to work. Students merely learn how to answer those specific questions correctly. On TestRocker there are over 3000 videos focused on teaching content alone. Even the practice questions come with video explanations from a top private tutor so that students can understand why they are getting questions wrong and quickly recall tough concepts on test day.
A Human Touch Still Matters
Many would argue that free online test prep services are every bit as good as ones that cost money. The main thing they lack, however, is perhaps the most valuable thing of all: customer service. What if a student gets stuck on a question? Is there any tutor support available? What about the technical aspect of the program? Can the student receive technical support 24x7 to ensure there is no interruption in their test prep? Needless to say, free test prep services very often don't include any kind of service, and it's their biggest flaw.
Get Actual Feedback with TestRocker
It's understandable for parents to be wary about investing large amounts of money in test prep services. However, the price of test prep services tends to be more affordable than most people assume. For example, TestRocker, offers a free trial and then charges a one time fee of $699 for unlimited access. Students can prepare for multiple test attempts after paying this one time charge. Compared to group classes, which can be $1000+ or private tutors who charge $40+/hour, TestRocker is quite affordable. Considering what it brings to the table--technical support, customer support and two hand-graded essays returned within 48 hours--it's well worth it too. With this service, students get that last, crucial puzzle piece that's needed to earn higher scores on these important tests.
There's No Such Thing as Free
At the end of the day, so-called free online test prep services aren't free at all. They still require substantial time commitments, and the return on that investment of time is disappointing. With paid-for test prep services like TestRocker, students receive guidance and feedback, which lets them study more effectively and efficiently. They get far more out of their sessions in shorter periods of time, and they tend to enjoy better test scores too. Considering how much money they can save later in the form of scholarships, there's no doubt about it: Free test prep services are costly to students.
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