If there is a college access issue I struggle with the most, it is access to quality test preparation for students of all income levels. The college application process is complex and confusing for many, but test preparation is often the most challenging and expensive process of all.
During the last couple of years, I have worked with hundreds of students in guiding them through the entire college application process. Often, I find myself working with seniors who left everything to the last minute and are seeking last minute support to ensure they can at least submit a complete application. With many programs available and able to help students with this process free of cost, students have an opportunity to refine their essays and submit thorough applications that are up to par to students who have access to paid guidance. Still, one of the most difficult pieces to the application process is helping a student gain access to quality test preparation that can help him earn a competitive SAT score as this is not something one can help with from one day to the other. While I have my own criticism regarding the college application process, standardized tests are still an important part of a student’s overall application. Unfortunately, many students from affluent communities have access to tutors from an early age whose entire responsibility is to prepare them for the infamous college entrance exams, creating an achievement gap within test results as many of the students in the communities we serve are left at a disadvantage. Students from less affluent homes may find themselves having little or no guidance as they prepare themselves for the exams.
Luckily, through a partnership between CollegeBoard, Khan Academy is now giving access to quality test preparation to all students free of cost. Additionally, CollegeBoard announced a new feature which allows students who took the October PSAT/NMSQT to create and connect their College Board and Khan Academy accounts. This way, when students receive their PSAT/NMSQT scores on December 12, they are able to log in to Khan Academy and gain access to a personalized SAT practice plan. Given that test preparation costs from some of the leading test prep companies can range between $1,000 to $2,000, Khan Academy can serve as the bridge for many students who would not have had access to appropriate practice due to financial constraints.
Students need to know that this free test preparation course is available as knowledge is power. The sooner we spread the word about this resource, the sooner our students will start preparing for college and beyond.
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