Among less competitive colleges, the National Association of College Admission Counseling’s report is right on. In fact I think colleges that have never cared much for the SAT should drop it as a requirement altogether. It puts unnecessary stress on certain students.
But for students eying "Top 100" colleges, the SAT over the last 20 years has RISEN in importance. Even a part of the NACAC report admits to that -- how a 20 - 30 point increase makes an admissions difference at many schools. 30 points makes a SCHOLARSHIP difference at many schools as well. Thus we like parents to know the facts and to categorize according to their child's aspirations. If applying to:
Non-Competitive College: consider dispensing with SAT prep
Fairly Competitive College: do SAT prep if you need to climb above a certain threshold for likely admission OR if you are seeking to maximize your merit scholarship awards.
Highly Competitive College: do SAT prep until you have achieved a score that's at or above the 75%ile of the colleges you aspire to attend.
Fairly Competitive College, as an Athletic Recruit: do SAT prep to the extent that you can assure a GPA and SAT combination that will surpass NCAA minimums.
Highly Competitive College, as an Athletic Recruit: do SAT prep to the extent that you can assure a GPA and SAT combination that will surpass standards that the school’s coaches AND admissions officers say you need.
As for whether prep helps -- there the NACAC report didn't divide as it should: between diligent and less diligent students. Ivy Bound’s courses help all students to some degree; among the diligent students -- the results have been dramatic -- 171 points (Math + CR vs. a prior SAT or PSAT). Unfortunately, nobody included Ivy Bound in this NACAC survey. SAT Prep is not for everybody. We candidly discuss this in our seminars. We wish NACAC would phrase in a way that aids families instead of taking a broad brush.
We invite all parents to telephone seminars on 218-844-0850 x 429601, the first Sunday of each month at 9:15pm eastern. I think many will find it illuminating.
Mark Greenstein is the founder and principal instructor of Ivy Bound Test Prep & Academic Tutoring. With over twenty years of experience, Ivy Bound offers a 150 SAT point guarantee or your money back. www.ivybound.net