— Scores Improve by Default —
Secret #1: Your Scores Improve by Default When You Study.
Some of the largest companies in the test prep industry have guarantees that promise if your scores do not improve after taking their courses, you can take their classes again for free.
Does this strike you as ridiculous?
First of all, if you spend countless hours taking a course, and it doesn’t improve your scores at all, then why the heck would you ever want to take that course again? It’s beyond my comprehension.
But there’s something even more dubious about this guarantee. It hopes that students and parents don’t know a very simple fact about test prep:
When you study for the SAT or ACT repeatedly, your scores will always go up BY A LITTLE BIT – no matter how you study.
This is just common sense. If you do anything for a while, you’ll get a little better at it. Imagine that you’re trying to learn to play the guitar, and you’ve never played before. You grab a guitar and start strumming it and messing around with it for an hour a day, twenty days straight. Even if your method wasn’t particularly effective, you’ll still be better than you were when you started.
There’s only one problem: you still won’t actually be good.
The same thing goes for bad SAT and ACT prep. Of course your score is going to go up. The only problem?
Your score won’t go up by much. Maybe 20-40 points on the SAT, or 1-2 points on the ACT. It won’t make an actual difference in your college applications – but it’ll improve enough that the company doesn’t have to refund your money or give you another seat in one of their classes.
So when you hear companies “guarantee that your score will go up,” it’s like saying that they “guarantee that if you start walking, you’ll be someplace else in a few minutes.”
I routinely see my students improve their scores by 500, 600, even 700+ points. I expect these improvements – I don’t see them as miracles.
But even a few practice runs with the SAT will improve your score by 20-40 or so points – almost automatically.
When a company tells you it “will guarantee that your score improves,” they’re not saying anything at all. They’re relying on your ignorance of how these tests work and hoping you don’t know a pesky little fact:
Studying ANYTHING and in ANY WAY will improve your score a little bit. And a little bit is all you need to improve by in order for them to meet their guaranteed promise.
Here’s the thing: you shouldn’t be in the market for “a score improvement” – you should be in the market for “application-altering score improvements.” Anything less, and you’re just settling.
Any amount of studying will help your score go up – you want it to go up enough to matter. But when it comes to the the test prep industry, these watered down guarantees are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s something even more diabolical that you need to know (explained on the next page of this guide)…