Small classes work better for SAT prep

Ok, so here’s some big news for parents about small classes: not all SAT prep classes are created equal!

The quality of your SAT class can be affected by teacher experience and skills, location and classroom facilities, the quality of materials, and more.

But one factor is incredibly important and often neglected - the size of the SAT prep class that your kid is a part of.

When you sign up for SAT prep class, you might be HORRIFIED to find that your expensive investment in education results in your kid showing up to a thirty person classroom!

If you can find them, smaller SAT prep classes are just a better idea all-around. Let’s take a look at some important differences between a small SAT prep class (less than 10 students) and a big SAT prep class (more than 20 students).

The average SAT prep class size is… “big.”

In most public high schools, the average class size seems to be around 25-30 students. That’s a pretty large audience for one teacher to manage.

In small private high schools, it might be less - around 15-18 kids in a room. More connection between teachers and students, no doubt - but still, that’s not a lot of “face time” with the teacher..

So, the same pretty much goes for SAT classes that kids get in school. Expect the number to range from 15-30 kids per room, per teacher. Of course, this is only for kids who actually get an SAT prep class in school - most kids don’t even get the chance to take a 30-person class!

For example, we limit SAT classes to eight students, per room, per instructor and (no surprise here) our classes tend to produce a very good experience for students, teachers, and parents.

More than 10? Too big for SAT class! Reasons why:

With a class of more than about 10 students, an SAT teacher can’t possibly share personal attention with everyone.

SAT prep isn’t like other subjects (like English, or Physics) because the SAT has many different topics within it. That means, section-to-section, the problems of keeping a group together multiply greatly.

The problem is compounded because the bigger the class, the more different levels the students are at. I’ve never had an SAT group (not even a single pair of students) where everyone was at the same level.

The more kids in class, the more different levels… and the more difficult it is for anyone to make progress efficiently.

The more students, the more chaos. The more noise in the classroom. The more risk of distracting side-conversations. The harder it is to check that homework is completed.

Besides, these topics are super-tough to explain to one student, sometimes.

(Honestly, most questions turn out to have a simple explanation, but believe us when we say that some SAT questions take a lot of patience to finish accurately.)

After teaching small-group classes, no instructor would seriously consider the large group as an effective forum for teaching SAT prep lessons.

Why big SAT classes cause problems for student learning

Each SAT section is negatively affected in a different way by the big-group dynamic above 10 kids:

Reading-speed differences make large classes tough:

Every kid has a different speed and SAT vocabulary level. For every student you add, the difference in class skill gets wider, and more time gets wasted.

Math ability levels widely differ between students:

Some students need 10 minutes to break down a question that other students finish in 30 seconds. There’s no pair of students more frustrated than one who really “gets” a math problem… and one who really doesn’t get it.

Grammar boredom and zoning out in big classes:

Most high school students don’t love grammar lessons, so in a large class, some kids will zone out or hide in the back - which just causes their problems with grammar to persist even longer.

SAT Essays need extra personal attention:

How can one teacher possibly give good personal feedback on 20 or 30 SAT essays? What if kids have questions like, “Will my example about my cousins work for my essay or should I use Abraham Lincoln?”

All SAT sections suffer in large classes:

The point is, it’s nearly impossible to deliver a great SAT prep experience in a big class. Even 15 students is way too many! The secret to better scores in a shorter time (with more fun) lies in smaller SAT classes.

Smaller SAT prep classes work better

The best learning experiences tend to come when small groups are working together on a common problem.

We believe in this philosophy so strongly that we max our SAT classes at eight students. Instead of a 25:1 ratio of kids to teacher, there’s an 8:1 ratio - that’s three times better in terms of instructor personal attention.

So, if you think about it, your kid would get two to three times more attention, per hour of SAT class attended (that’s if you compare a small class of eight to a school classroom of twenty-five kids).

Now, we’re not saying you have to use us for SAT classes, but, just make sure you find someone who keeps classes small (10 students or less - please make sure!!)

Students are matched to small classes by SAT scores

Classes should be arranged so that SAT prep students fall in a similar starting score ranges and experience levels. This results in less wasted classroom time and more opportunities to learn directly from fellow classmates who are at the same level - and everyone feels more confident.

Some students should go straight to private SAT tutoring - if they have a very high or a very low SAT score, for example, or if they’ve taken a lot of SAT prep already.

In fact, we get questions about this so often that we’ve created a helpful shortcut. Click here for a great infographic on whether you should choose SAT tutoring or group class.

Of course you can always contact us if you just want direct personal advice for your son or daughter; we can definitely help match you to the best SAT prep for you.

Final thoughts on small group classes:

In general, we feel that smaller classes are more fun and more successful all around.

The cool thing is, a group class is actually a great opportunity to participate in the amazing power of group learning.

Small groups of devoted thinkers have produced some of the most wonderful innovations in technology and social advancement.

We will always have a big place in our hearts for private lessons, since that’s where we began as a company (click here to sign up for SAT tutoring).

On the other hand, the group class dynamic just can’t be beat for energy and potential for teamwork! If you like the idea as much as we do, click here to create an account and sign up for SAT group classes today!

Not ready to join a class today? Get more tips by email:

We know not everyone is ready to sign up for SAT prep classes today, but we hope we can continue the conversation!

SAT prep is a long-term goal. The very word “preparation” is built in to the whole idea!

If you agree that preparation for the biggest test of their life is important, make sure to sign up for the SAT prep email course before you go.

Additional Resources:
Conquer SAT Vocabulary Video Course

SAT Grammar Crammer: Top 12 Rules of SAT Writing

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