Kaplan New SAT Premier 2016 review

People have long argued about the pros and cons of various SAT preparation materials. Some claim that the test is designed to test a student’s abilities to think and reason, and that preparing for the test is simply a waste of time and money. After all, how could a book or tutor change someone’s entire way of thinking over the course of a few short months? Whether your material of choice is the Kaplan New SAT Premier 2016 or anything else, can a few months spent working through a specific book really make a quantifiable difference at the end of the day?

For Everything Else, There's Mastercard

For Everything Else, There’s Mastercard

We’ve all heard the commercials a million times before: dinner – $36, show tickets – $100, spending a day with your loved one who just returned home from overseas – priceless. There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.

It’s true; there are definitely things in life which money can’t buy. Many of our circumstances in life are beyond our control, and elements such as the families we were born into, the neighborhoods we grew up in, and the education we received were largely out of our control as children. However, when it comes time to look towards our futures, doesn’t it make sense to do everything within our power to ensure the greatest possible success – even for a monetary cost?

Work Hard, Study Hard

Then there are those of us who counter that there are, in fact, numerous ways to leverage the knowledge we already have in order to improve our SAT scores. Even the best tutor is unlikely to help a student raise his score from the lowest percentile to a perfect 1600, but with the right time and effort, it is highly possible for a score to be raised by several hundred points. And with the high competition among applicants for coveted university slots, a couple of hundred points can make all the difference in whether that letter from your #1 school contains a rejection letter or an acceptance.

Nothing like getting that acceptance letter in the mail

Nothing like getting that acceptance letter in the mail

There are so many names on the market when it comes to SAT prep, but one of the oldest and most well-established is Kaplan. For years, Kaplan has offered private tutoring through either an in-person or online course, which includes a customized study plan and a money-back guarantee that the student will see an improvement in his or her score. However, these lessons do not come cheap. While there is a range in pricing, the package listed as the “best value” on Kaplan’s website is the Classroom PLUS – featuring an 18-hour course and 6 proctored tests – for the starting price of $1199.

So what’s a motivated student to do? Many of us want to do everything in our power to have the best possible SAT scores, since we have our specific top universities in mind where the competition can be very fierce. True, there are some things money can’t buy – but SAT preparation is in fact an area where MasterCard (or Visa) might be of assistance.

That being said, while improving our scores is definitely a worthwhile investment, spending over a thousand dollars on a review course is not within many of our price ranges. Yes, there are some students who really do require the assistance of a tutor (whether in-person or online) to keep them focused and sticking to a course of study. But for those of us who have an easier time making and keeping our own study schedule, it doesn’t really seem worth it to dish out hundreds of dollars for a review course when that same money could be better spent on college textbooks over the next few years.

Kaplan New SAT Premier 2016 Review

Kaplan New SAT Premier 2016

Kaplan New SAT Premier 2016

For me personally, I wanted to benefit from the tried-and-true testing strategies of Kaplan, without having to pay the cost. For a fraction of the course’s price, I picked up a copy of Kaplan’s most up-to-date review book – the Kaplan New SAT Premier 2016 with 5 Practice Tests, plus DVD. This book + DVD combo includes more than 2,000 practice questions, as well as strategies and testing tricks which have been demonstrated to raise students’ scores. My favorite part of this book was the detailed explanations of each practice question, which allowed me to understand not just which answer was correct, but why it was correct and how I could do better for the future.

I started with the included diagnostic test, to give me a baseline of where my abilities and challenges lay. Personally, I have always found the math sections to be most challenging, while reading and writing come more naturally to me. The diagnostic test confirmed this while allowing me to focus in on specific areas which would require the most effort on my part. As such, I was able to structure my study sessions in such a way that I focused most heavily on math, though not to the exclusion of English – even though those subjects come more naturally to me, I still wanted to ensure the highest possible grade. I would say that on average, for every hour I spent on writing or reading, I spent 3 more on math. In addition to the diagnostic test, this book includes 5 full-length, realistic practice tests, which I took throughout the course of my studying.


Some Kaplan Test Prep History

Stanley Kaplan

Stanley Kaplan

The Kaplan Test Prep enterprise is named for Stanley Kaplan, who back in 1938 would tutor students out of the basement of his parents’ home in Brooklyn. He catered largely to students from immigrant families, who sought to become successful in the “Land of Opportunity” through the pursuit of higher education. Over the next few years, American universities began to shift more towards using standardized testing as a component of admissions criteria. Despite the claim that it wasn’t really possible to study for these exams, Kaplan understood that he was in fact able to help people improve their scores through proper coaching. In 1975, the Federal Trade Commission concluded that test preparation could in fact help raise exam scores for these standardized tests, and this finding contributed to the passing of legislation making the admission process more transparent for would-be university students. As more and more students began realizing that university was within their reach, the idea of preparing for these tests became more popular.

Today, Kaplan operates in more than 30 different countries and offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, and MCAT. In any given year, hundreds of thousands of students benefit from Kaplan courses, and countless more benefit from all of their study materials available in print and online.

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