Kaplan scams students

Five hundred dollars? That’s a lot for anyone, but it’s a small price to pay for many Brookline teenagers’ parents when it comes to a better future for their kids.

SAT scores, whatever you may think of them, are a necessary part of getting into college. Some colleges consider SAT scores to be 48 percent of a person. The next 48 percent comes from GPA and the last 4 percent has to do with who the person applying is.

This is what my Kaplan Complete SAT prep teacher told me. This is scary enough for many people to consider paying the $500 that Kaplan is eager to collect. Don’t pay up. That is my advice, and this was my experience.

Kaplan’s Complete SAT prep course includes four practice tests after school or on Saturday that last 4.5 hours, but first they administer a diagnostic test. This diagnostic test is the most difficult. The tests that followed became easier and easier, and the last one is the easiest. This pattern tends to clearly show vast score improvements since the beginning. However, this pattern is misleading, and so are their practice tests.

When answering paired passage questions, part of the reading comprehension section, my teacher told me to read the first passage and then answer the first few questions in the list of questions given, because they are always going to be about the first passage. Then I was told to read the second passage and answer the questions about that. Those questions were supposed to be next in the list. Finally, I should answer the questions at the end of the list, which were about both passages.

On all of the practice tests, this is the order the questions were in, and the Kaplan method for answering paired passage questions worked fine. On the SAT, the questions were jumbled.

It was a very stressful morning for me; I was surprised to find out that what I had been told was wrong.

My Kaplan class spent some time going over math subjects that would be on the test, and we covered some grammar things that are good to know. But once they have your money, the teacher has nothing invested in you. If the other kids are goofing off, the teacher does nothing to reel them in and very little gets done.

In my class, most people weren’t doing the work. They were getting up and leaving and walking around, and everyone was very loud. It was not a good environment for learning, unlike anything I’d ever experienced at this school before.

The Kaplan tutors make lots of promises, of course. They promise you that you will feel ready, confident and satisfied with your score on the SAT, or you can take the class again for free. Also, if you get a worse score on the SAT than on your diagnostic test, (which is harder than the SAT) you get your money back. You are only eligible for this offer if you go to every 3-4.5 hour class, take every practice test and do all of the homework. If you don’t do that, their promises are taken away.

The homework is on their website. It is hours and hours of mindless multiple-choice problems, and there is no high school student I know that has time for that much extra work.

If you are into saving trees, you won’t like Kaplan. Kaplan sends you a huge course book, most of which you don’t use in class. It is a book of their phony practice tests for you to do on your own and a set of flash cards with really hard words on them. If you want these things, you can have mine.

What do I think you should do? The SAT is an endurance test. It’s less about what you know and more about your ability to mark the correct answers after four hours of test. Take the PSATs and PPSATs or whatever they have. Get all the practice you can and see what parts you are having trouble with. Work on those parts, don’t stress too much, you should be fine. If that really doesn’t work for you, maybe get a tutor or find a prep class other than one of Kaplan’s.

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