With a 16-year-old high school student in the house, we're preparing for the college entry exam also known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).
Paying for exam prep classes can be expensive. Prices range from $1,100 for a series of classes to about $3,400 for 26 hours of private tutoring. One private company charges $400 for an Internet-based self-study program.
We found an attractive, instructor-led prep course in the Miami-Dade College catalog. A two-week program, representing about 24 hours of classes, is available this summer for about $200.
In addition to affordable college programs at community colleges, I found several other options.
• Check out the library. The local library branch may offer free SAT preparation workshops or other resources. The Broward County Library system has offered SAT prep classes. Likewise, Miami-Dade Public Library has a ''learn-a-test'' database, with sample tests and other study tools. Log on to the library's home page and use your library card to browse through the database.
• Create a study group. Before enrolling my teen in the exam prep course at Miami Dade College, I considered launching an SAT study group with other families in my neighborhood. The group would share the cost of a tutor, and each family would be responsible for purchasing learning guides and other study aides.
• Target online sources. From sample tests to study guides, I found several free online resources. For instance, Studyguidezone.com provides model questions and ''self-improvement links,'' with step-by-step help in algebra, essay writing and other topics. The site also offers useful tips about controlling test anxiety. Other online sources include: www.testpreview.com, www.collegeboard.com and testprep.sparknotes.com. Of course, some of the online sites offer fee-based options, but the free menus typically include excellent material and study tips. ______________
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