Today I have a quick thought for parents and students currently considering or already involved in a prep program. It is true that a great tutor- one who is experienced, engaging, articulate, motivating, and all the other things that make a great SAT tutor- with an organized, individualized program can make an enormous difference in this process. But never forget that perhaps the single most important factor in a student’s success or lack thereof on the SAT is the student him or herself. For most students, the SAT, like any major exam, requires a great deal of hard work; students have to be able and willing to put in the effort necessary to succeed.
Again, the individual tutor or program is important: the most effective ones will not only tailor the type and amount of work necessary but also motivate a student to do the work. But expecting your score to change simply by listening to a tutor teach SAT techniques is like expecting to get perfect six-pack abs simply by hearing a personal trainer describe how to do crunches.
If you’re a student who has never really worked hard in school, doesn’t tend to do everything (or more than is) expected of you, or tends to be stubborn about changing bad habits, you may need to adjust your expectations, no matter how good your tutor is.