SAT prep courses make a difference for students
Former Tuscola teachers Susan Kingshill and Lynn Smith understand the stress and anxiety students face when taking the SAT exam.
That one test can mean the difference between getting into a certain college or not, being awarded a scholarship or not or even getting into a particular program of study — or not. While grades and extracurricular activities certainly play a role in getting into college, SAT scores are important, too, making the test a big deal to college-bound students.
“My daughter was a great student, but not a good tester,” said Kingshill, explaining that her daughter’s initial SAT score was too low to get into the college program she was interested in studying.
Kingshill enrolled her daughter in the Princeton Review, a class designed to teach students the material and test-taking skills needed for the SAT. The results were great. Kingshill’s daughter increased her score enough to get into the college and program she wanted, and Kingshill became interested in helping her own students conquer the big test.
At first, Kingshill started small. She’d offer help to students after school to prepare for the exam, but the school asked if she would be willing to teach an SAT prep class.
That’s where Smith came into the picture. Kingshill would teach the students the English and essay portion of the exam while Smith would focus on the math parts.
The classes were a success, with most of the students able to improve their score on the test, some by several hundred points.
However, budget cuts meant that the school could not longer offer the course, but that didn’t stop the teachers. They have both since retired and now run an SAT prep services business called WNC Success At Testing Prep Services.
“We’re totally dedicated to getting students their scores,” Kingshill said.
Smith, who had her own daughter take a similar course before she starting teaching it, said it really makes a difference for the students who want to apply themselves. Her daughter’s score improved by more than 200 points after taking a prep course.
“I realized it was very valuable,” she said. “I know that it works.”
One of their most recent successes centers on Tuscola senior Ethan Dinwiddie, an excellent student who mostly needed help with grammar and the essay-writing portion of the exam.
“First I took the PSAT and scored OK, but I knew I could do better,” Dinwiddie said.
After studying individually with Kingshill and Smith, Dinwiddie’s score went from a 1,910 on the PSAT to a 2,130 on the SAT out of 2,400 possible points. Dinwiddie then took the SAT one more time, and because colleges take the top scores from each section when a student takes the test more than once, his “super score” is a 2,250. Notably, he only missed one question on the math portion of the exam, and he greatly improved his essay skills.
“I definitely think the prep class will really improve your SAT score. With the class, it definitely bumped it up.”
Aside from strengthening his weakest areas, Dinwiddie said the course helped him learn how to take the test with strategies for improving his test-taking skills.
“It really helped me focus on what I needed to do for a good score,” he said. “It’s really not that hard to do. You just need to put in some time.”
In addition to individual tutoring sessions at $35 an hour, a complete 18-hour course is offered for $540. Courses are offered twice a year, in the fall and spring, and the next course begins Sunday, March 24.
The courses are offered Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Haywood Christian Academy’s Senior School Campus at 1400 Old Clyde Road. Registration is limited.
For information, call or email Susan Kingshill at 421-4862 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Lynn Smith at 452-1267 or email@example.com.