Standardized test tutoring swings into high gear


Christina Tresslar

The library is a popular choice when it comes to studying.

On April 12, Hinsdale Central will administer an Illinois-funded official Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) for all juniors. 

The official test is given junior year due to the topics covered aligning with the coursework learned in standard level classes. But for many students, preparations for these exams have extended beyond the classroom. 

Currently, many Hinsdale Central juniors take part in tutoring for the SAT and ACT. Because spring test dates are approaching soon, many students have upped the amount of time they spend preparing.

“I did some tutoring sessions over the summer, and I just picked up this month. I try to get them at least once a week,” said Claire Gannon, junior enrolled in ACT tutoring. 

Gannon’s sessions are individual, meaning each session is catered to her specific needs. 

“Recently I’ve been getting tutored for ACT math, so we will start with whatever problems I’m having trouble with,” Gannon said. “Then we pick either questions 1-20, 20-40, or 40-60, and they get harder as you go.” 

There are a variety of tutoring companies located in Hinsdale and available to Central students, such as Genius Tutors, The Village Tutors, and The In-Home Tutor. Group SAT tutoring sessions have been organized through the school as well, taking place after school on Early Release Wednesdays. 

Receiving tutoring for the SAT and ACT is popular, but many students take different routes to studying for the exams. 

“I work well by myself, so I bought myself an SAT prep book. I’ve been studying off of that,” said Hazel Hamelka, junior. 

SAT and ACT prep books contain multiple practice exams and answers, allowing students to repeatedly practice testing and discover what areas they need improvements in. The sample questions come from past-given official tests, giving students an accurate measurement of what the test would look like. 

“There is a free service through the College Board website called Khan Academy,” said Maureen Drown, Hinsdale Central counselor. “Students can put in their PSAT score and get free practice items customized to their own score and performance.” 

The Khan Academy tools can be used by any student at Hinsdale Central, and have been encouraged by District 86 Staff. 

“It’s nice to see that there are more resources becoming available for all students,” Drown said. 

With more cost-effective studying methods becoming available, not all believe that tutoring is actually worth it. 

“I feel like it’s kind of dumb,” Hamelka said. “The amount of money they pay is insane for one tutor, and sometimes it’s a little unnecessary if [students] are already very smart.” 

Tutoring prices for standardized tests tend to go up to thousands of dollars based on the credibility of the tutor and the longevity of the course. Some tutoring services guarantee a specific increase in scores based on which tutor is selected. 

However, many students, in tutoring or not, haven’t actually taken the SAT or ACT. They still don’t know what to expect when it comes to scores.

“At the [tutoring program] I actually went with, they did not require a baseline test,” Gannon said. 

Though Hinsdale Central students tend to perform strongly on exams regardless, the April SAT coming up will help juniors finally see the success each of their approaches brings.