Don’t do test prep just to do it

Five years ago, the mother of one of our Collegewise juniors said this to me when discussing test prep for her son.

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If he finds a school he really likes and you tell us it would be a good idea to raise his test scores, we'll have him do test prep.  But I don't want to do it just to do it.


I've always remembered that as the perfect way to describe a sane approach to preparing for the SAT or ACT.  There are plenty of colleges that will happily admit a good kid with mediocre SAT scores.  There over 800 colleges that don't even require SAT or ACT scores.  If you and your counselor decide that you've found some appropriate colleges for which you would benefit from having higher test scores, do some test prep.  But don't do it just because everybody else is doing it. 

That Collegewise student?  Today, he's graduating from California Lutheran University after a successful four years as a scholar athlete on the cross country team and a stint as a representative on the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.  Next up–he's going to get his teaching credential so he can teach high school and coach cross country.  He's happy, successful and excited about life after college.

And he never did test prep.