The Student News Site of Alief Kerr High School


The Student News Site of Alief Kerr High School


The Student News Site of Alief Kerr High School


Princeton Review SAT resources not heavily used

We asked 100 Kerr juniors if they were currently using the free Princeton Review SAT resources. This is what they said:


On April 15, all Kerr juniors have the opportunity to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).The catch: the exam is free of charge.

While this free SAT is provided by College Board, it aligns with the district’s plan to make available college exams for all students. Before the school year began, the district had partnered with Princeton Review—a company that provides test preparation services—to help students improve their PSAT and SAT scores.

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Students in this program receive the following resources:

  1.    SAT Preparation
  2.    SAT Books and Practice Exams
  3.    SAT Online Portal Access

According to Alief I.S.D Advanced Academic Coordinator, Tracy Scholz, this free SAT preparation program is currently being provided at all five Alief high schools. All juniors at Kerr and Alief Early College have access to these resources, but at Taylor, Hastings, and Elsik (because of their large junior population sizes) only a selected number of students have access.

“As of now, we have given access to the training, tutorials and materials to over 600 juniors in the district,” Scholz said.

This annual contract can be renewed at the end of each school year, but this will depend on several determinants.

“The Princeton Review will receive the SAT data for student participants in the program and will run a diagnostic report to show progress from the practice exams that students took until the April 15th exam,” Scholz said. “Based on the results of these reports and other determining factors, the district will decide on contract renewal for the 2015-2016 school year.”

However, the usage of these resources has not been heavy.

For some students, Princeton Review is not their top choice for SAT preparation materials. Junior Jannette Nguyen is one of those students.

“I don’t like the resources that they gave us…some of my friends who have used it say that the prep classes are a lot harder than the actual SAT,” Nguyen said. “I don’t find that really useful.”

Instead, Nguyen gets her resources somewhere else.

“I do the Khan Academy because I heard that College Board gave Khan Academy all those test prep [materials]. I’d rather get it from the source,” Nguyen said.

Junior Dang Luu acquires his SAT resources from elsewhere as well but for a different reason.

“My mom already signed me up for an SAT prep course at Test Masters, and they already gave me a book to do,” Luu said. “The thing is, when you have two books, you might as well use one of them because switching between books is a hassle.”

For juniors Daisy Cruz and Monica Pineda, the time for using the Princeton Review materials simply hasn’t arrived.

“Right now, I’m taking classes that are overwhelming,” Cruz said. “Once I get some free time, I plan on studying for the SAT.”

Similarly, Pineda has not yet practiced enough with the resources, but she appreciates them.

“They certainly are giving us all the chances to get a really good score on the SAT, so I personally enjoy [the resources],” Pineda said. “I have not used them as much because I’ve been busy with other things, but I’ve seen the test and reviews.”

Last school year, juniors—now seniors—received SAT materials from Kaplan, Inc. Once a week after school, a Kaplan instructor would come and review different SAT practice problems with students.

According to Scholz, Kaplan was replaced by this Princeton Review program due to a lack of success in the former program.

“We were not seeing the growth that we expected using the Kaplan program,” Scholz said. “Reviews from the students and teachers were mixed, and so we felt that a new preparatory program was needed.”

Senior Aaron Fung knows this from experience. He was one of the students who signed up for these after-school sessions and then quit after two sessions.

“There was a teacher. She gave you a book. Then, she went through certain types of problems typically from the book,” Fung said. “They want you to improve your score in some way. However, [the curriculum] was moving way too slow for me.”

Fung believes he wasted his time attending the after-school sessions.

“You want to improve your score,” Fung said, “but most of the stuff we were going through, people should already have known when taking the SAT.”

Senior Dung Phan agrees. She was a member of the district’s SAT Scholars program and attended Wednesday after-school Kaplan sessions exclusively for SAT scholars.

“It wasn’t anything new,” Phan said. “I mean, plugging the five answer choices back into the problem; isn’t that common sense?”

She believes the current junior class is fortunate to have this advantage.

“If I were in their shoes, I would have used this opportunity to the best of my ability,” Phan said. “This is the stuff that we couldn’t have.”

Scholz does not understand what is stopping students from taking advantage of a great opportunity.

“[Students are not] obligated, but anytime schools offer a free resource to students, they should take advantage of it whenever possible,” Scholz said. “Although it varies from student to student, most students who are currently using the materials are seeing gains in their scores, some as much as 300 points. Why would you not want to utilize materials that could help improve your academic achievement?”

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