The High Cost of Test Prep and the PSAT Exam

Here’s my daughter, Alexis, studying for the PSAT.

As with all 3 of my kids, I was her tutor, using my knowledge + study guides.

Private test prep?

Kaplan: up to $1,300, for unlimited hours online.

Princeton Review: up to $2,700, for 18 hrs.

So I saved money, and spent my time. I’m cool with that. 👍🏽

But Imagine millions of parents who didn’t go to college or lack the knowledge to be their kids’ writing or math tutors?

Or parents too busy w/ work & other obligations.

Or parents who can’t afford private test prep for the PSAT & SAT exams?

Yes, there are cheaper PSAT test prep options & free online stuff.


But even good students may need more.

My oldest daughter, a National Merit Scholar, scored top 1% on her PSAT. She graduated in 2018 from UT Austin.

My son tested well too & graduates in December from NC State.

Since it’s my 3rd time doing PSAT & SAT test prep with my kids, I’ve seen many changes.

✅ One upside: tests are now WAY less important!

✅ 1,800+ colleges are now Test-Optional & don’t require SAT or ACT scores, per FairTest (see their list of test-optional schools).

✅ In CA — where all public colleges are test-free — the # of test-takers ⬇️ by 62% from 2019 to 2022.

✅ Nationwide, SAT test taking is down 21%.

✅ All 8 Ivy League schools are now test optional.

Colleges know that grades, essays, activities, etc. all predict college success better than PSAT/SAT scores.

Data also show dropping SAT/ACT requirements:

✅ helps get more diverse students

✅ doesn’t reduce student body quality or lower standards

Now for the downside:

The level of competition for college admissions is insane.

I know the environment based on personal & professional experience, having written a two-book series, College Secrets.

As a parent, I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to give my kids every advantage.

And as a Black mom, to be honest, I’ve taught my children: you have to be twice as good to get half as much in this society.

I wish the system was different.

But tests like the PSAT, SAT and ACT really say more about a family’s income and resources — vs the merit and potential of the student. 💯💰

In short: rich kids can get paid tutors, college coaches, etc.

Other kids lack such advantages.

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