Besides having an official SAT score of 2390 out of 2400, I have tutored hundreds of test prep students since 1997.
I know the SAT, PSAT, LSAT, and ACT very well since I specialize at test prep for these four tests.
The SAT, ACT, PSAT, and LSAT tests are very tutorable (coachable) because these tests cover only a very limited range of topics. Half the battle is knowing exactly what is going to be on these tests, and the other half is mastering these areas, which is necessary because these tests test for conceptual understanding. Just memorizing formulas and rules won't help much; you have to have a deep understanding of the concepts. From all my years of experience, I know what is going to be on these tests, and for whatever reason, I completely understand the concepts being tested and can explain them in a simple way.
On this page there is a link to a study which may seem to imply test prep does very little good. Let's get one thing straight:
I don't think most tutoring businesses can dramatically raise your child's score; however, I think I can.
Many people underestimate the importance of SAT and ACT scores in the college admissions process. At "good" colleges and universities, SAT and ACT scores often count more than all four years of high school grades. Of course, other things, such as personal statements, leadership activities, and other extracurricular activities, such as sports participation, count too. But it is SAT and ACT scores which give the admissions staff an opportunity to compare applicants with the same yardstick. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of the SAT's value, many high achievers see SAT and ACT scores as a rough measure of a student's intelligence or at least of a student's academic ability. The fact is there is a strong correlation between high SAT and ACT scores and good grades in college.
While I don't think prepping for the SAT I Math section is especially helpful for most students' college grades, I think SAT Critical Reading Prep and SAT Writing Prep both have a direct, positive effect on college grades. In other words, SAT prep can help a student perform in college. I cannot imagine a student being able to write well unless the student scored a 650+ on the SAT I Writing or being able to read well unless the student scored 650+ on the SAT I Critical Reading. Students who score under a 650 on the SAT Critical Reading have great difficulty understanding complex reading passages and will have to play catch-up in a "good" college.
There are many other reasons you should get SAT Prep tutoring for your child, but if you get an SAT Prep tutor, make sure the tutor is competent. Very few tutors have 99th percentile scores, and few have much experience. Most tutors at tutoring centers are woefully inadequate in so many ways.
As a psychology major, I learned about intelligence correlations. There is a good correlation between the intelligence of a husband and wife. Of course, there are exceptions, but if a "smart" person married a "dumb" person, how smart, really, is the "smart" person? I see the same correlation between the intelligence of parents and that of the tutors they hire. In other words, smart parents hire smart tutors, and not-so-bright parents hire not-so-bright tutors. This helps explain why some tutors deliver less than stellar results time after time and some seem to deliver near miracles. The latter tutors are smart and have smart clients. I feel like telling some people to hire the tutor they like the least, sort of like telling the investor who always loses his money to do the opposite of what he thinks is reasonable. The Princeton Review recommends this technique on hard SAT questions and calls it the "Joe Bloggs trick (see link).
The fact is I have an official SAT I score of 2390 (out of 2400) on the new SAT I test. I know the test like the back of my hand. Over the years I have helped hundreds of kids raise their SAT, PSAT, and ACT test scores. I know what is on these tests and how to impart that knowledge to my students. Many kids can make a 300-point gain to their SAT score, if they put in the time and effort and if their parents invest in a good tutor.