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“PrepMe”? I’ll be the Judge of That


Kate Ham, HSPVA, 2016

The SAT has not proven to be the best tool for measuring success after high school. College Board President David Coleman recognizes that “costly test preparation has made the ground uneven.” Why? Because the more you prepare for the SAT (by reading, schoolwork, prep courses, etc.), the more you can improve your score. In other words, there’s hope.

So what’s this PrepMe thing?

HISD recently bought the PrepMe course so that students could learn the tricks and tips of the SAT. It’s nice to have a free program with all of those expensive prep courses out there. But was it worth it?

Many would argue no. At my school, HSPVA, PrepMe is a mandatory online class for all juniors, and assignments are for a weekly completion grade. The main problem for students is actually remembering to do them. Even for the ones who do remember, PrepMe is infamous for its technical difficulties. How sad is it if your GPA drops because of an online completion-graded course? And for students like me who have taken prep courses before, the work isn’t worth the time.

Other schools handle the program differently. Some juniors at Bellaire used PrepMe a few times during their PreCalculus classes, but that was the extent of the course’s use there. Students at the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, on the other hand, use PrepMe in a mandatory college skill-building course that is part of their block schedule. The student from HSLECJ whom I interviewed agreed that a large portion of the material was review (particularly the math sections), but asserted that PrepMe was helpful in discovering tricks to the SAT and improving test taking speed.

Is devoting an entire online class to PrepMe a necessary evil? I would argue yes. Since most juniors won’t take the initiative to study on their own, I don’t mind clicking through some lessons and quizzes knowing that some other student will score better on the SAT because of them.

Next year is a different story. With the 2016 SAT redesign (missed it by a year!), we shall see what’s in store for these test prep programs, as College Board and KhanAcademy plan to expand their free SAT prep to anyone with an internet connection. I’m not sure if HISD considered this before buying the PrepMe program, but  I would rather hear Sal Khan’s soothing voice rather than flip through some “hip” PrepMe slideshows.

For advice on preparing for the SAT, I think that reading and taking as many practice tests as you can is the best strategy. I’ve had people tell me different things though, so do whatever works for you. In the end, we will all be crying come test day anyways.

How does PrepMe work at your school? Let us know in the comments below!

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This entry was posted on February 16, 2015 by and tagged , , , .

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