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Thread: SAT Instructors

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    Trying to make mom and pop proud Cara's Avatar
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    Re: How to improve the reading score

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    Odyssey, I hope you're wrong about the Kaplan SAT instructors being bad. My husband is currently in training to be a Kaplan LSAT instructor, having scored in the 97th% on his LSAT exam. And I think he will make a great instructor! I have to mention that the SAT teacher's program is completely re-written this year to respond to critisms. Kaplan has been doing it longer than anybody else and with the best track record. They even have a guarantee.

    With that being said, I myself am preparing to take Kaplan's diagnostic test to become an SAT instructor. I have a unique situation taking neither the SAT nor ACT, so I didn't know what to expect for the exam. I have to say that I am actually nervous. I'm not sure if I should be or not. I have a 4.0 GPA at CSUN and consider myself a relatively intelligent person.

    I'm hoping to get my teaching credentials in 2007 after I finish with school. So, becoming an SAT instructor seemed to be the perfect 2nd job for me since it's in the field I want to work in.

    Maybe I should have started a new thread! I seem to be ranting - sorry about that. Is the SAT really as difficult as people say it is? I want to score in the 90th%.

  2. #2
    Ankylosaurus Forum Admin Erin's Avatar
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    My Two Cents Re: SAT Instructors

    First, Cara, I'd like to welcome you to TestMagic.

    Second, I've split this thread off for you so that Knok can get the help she needs.

    Second, doing well on a test doesn't necessarily make one a great teacher. And doing well on a test and being a great teacher don't necessarily make one a great teacher of that test. Even a bright, caring, insightful teacher may not be a great SAT coach until he or she gains the experience of a master teacher for that test.

    Mind you, I'm speaking in generalities, and in no way am I trying to make any claims about you or your husband. I honestly hope that you two are those special people who can make a difference in a young person's life. It can be an enormously rewarding experience to know that you've helped somebody achieve a dream.
    ☼ Waiting for Godot

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    Re: SAT Instructors

    Cara, welcome to this forum. I hope you and I can combine our perspectives to add value to the Test Magic forum.

    I started with Kaplan back in the 90's and made a ton of friends with fellow instructors and managers with whom I still keep in contact. BTW, are you being trained by Tom Abernathy up at Northridge? He is a real nice guy.

    I am a Kaplan insider and you are not going to like what I have to say, so I will need to tread carefully. I also do not want to divulge too many tidbits about "market research" things that are really peripheral to this forum's purpose. So this means I have much, much more to say than what I will actually say here.

    Back in the 90's, Kaplan's SAT program was 24 instructional hours (8 sessions, 3 hours per session) plus 3 practice tests. That program, that lesson book, was in my opinion Kaplan's best that I've seen and far superior to their lesson books coming up to and including the current one. Four years ago, I noticed a strange transition. The course was revamped to 7 3-hr sessions (total of 21 instructional hours) plus 4 practice tests. A year or two after that, the course was revamped to 8 2.5-hr sessions (total of 20 instructional hours) plus 4 practice tests. This course ran up to the end of 2003. Are you seeing a pattern? Experienced Kaplan SAT instructors who had been with the company for a few years saw an alarming pattern of cost-cutting. I have analyzed it to a great extent. The old 24-hour program had a comprehensive mixture of SAT-format question sets and non-SAT-format instruction, which is absolutely critical (e.g., exercises for 30/60/90, 45/45/90, 3:4:5, and 5:12:13 special right triangles). The first change, the move to 21 hours, was to take out ALL non-SAT-format exercises in order to save 1 3-hour session in the name of cost-cutting. The result was that each section contained ONLY 2 SAT-format questions that the instructor models and a "do at home" set. Often, the at-home questions introduced totally new concepts that were not modeled in the first 2 questions. As an experienced instructor, I knew that the vast majority of SAT students do virtually no homework, so I used my discretion and had my students do as many of the at-home sets as we could in class. Thus, I was ALWAYS pushing and surpassing the limit of a 3-hour session. I also knew that inexperienced instructors, which would be the vast majority, would not understand and would simply do what their instructor manual said- to model the first 2 questions and move on to the next section. I estimated that an instructor who did this could easily finish the session in only 2 hours instead of 3, and I knew the problem could be pervasive. One day I received an list-serve email from the regional academic coordinator warning instructors who were finishing SAT sessions in 2 hours not to mark down 3 on their time sheets! This was the result of poor lesson book design and poor instructor training. Shortly after that, as one might anticipate, the course was tailored down to 20 instructional hours with sessions reduced to 2.5 hours for the sake of further cost-cutting WHILE THE LESSON MATERIAL REMAINED THE SAME LENGTH!!! This put a huge amount of stress on experienced and caring instructors, who realized it was now virtually impossible to compensate for the design flaws of the program even if we wanted to.

    I will skip talking about the Kaplan program throughout 2004 coming up to the new SAT because it's rather confusing, with a course designed to accommodate those taking the old SAT as well as those taking the new SAT. Instead, I'll go straight to the current Kaplan SAT program for the new SAT. The new SAT is roughly 1/3 bigger than the old test with the addition of the Writing section (multiple-choice grammar and an essay). So wouldn't you reasonably expect around 1/3 more hours, the intricacies/difficulties of teaching essay writing notwithstanding? So, Cara, you must know that THE CURRENT KAPLAN SAT PROGRAM STILL HAS ONLY 20 INSTRUCTIONAL HOURS!!!!!!! How in the world is this possible? This is possible because math, especially geometry, was sacrificed. If you go counting, you'll find roughly 12 to 15 geometry questions (some might cross categories into algebra as well as functions) out of total of 54 math questions. Although, geometry is relatively few percentage-wise, you still have to train for all the geometry categories that might appear on the test. Was there an oversight by current Kaplan curriculum developers? Absolutely not, if you're an insider like me. The developers are exasperated as well but are only adhering to the constraints given to them. The constraints are based ENTIRELY on cost-cutting considerations, not on substantive considerations, of course. In addition, roughly 1.5 hours was allocated to multiple-choice grammar and another 1.5 hours to essay writing.

    How much time should be given to multiple-choice grammar and essay writing? Well, a good reference point is Kaplan's very own SAT II Writing course, which ran all the way to the end of 2004. That course was 12 hours, which I think is quite reasonable. In my own tutoring, going extremly fast and being very detailed at the same time, I can complete grammar category review in 3 hours, application to grammar multiple-choice in 4 hours, leaving 5 hours for essay writing. I actually market essay writing in a more open fashion and speak of 4 to 6 to 8 hours of essay writing depending on the child and the goal. Yet Kaplan's current course for the new SAT provides ONLY 3 hours for the ENTIRE writing section with both multiple-choice grammar AND essay writing!!!!

    So if we add 12 hours to the original 20-hour (math and verbal/critical reading) program, that's 32 hours...BARE MINIMUM for a program to have a chance to be effective. Yet Kaplan's current course for the new SAT is 20 instructional hours.

    Finally, i just want to say I hope anyone who reads this post will find value. I assure you, my words here are only the tip of the iceberg. I haven't mentioned anything about the operations and marketing side of Kaplan. And again, I really don't want to go down that path. I'm here to help individuals on this forum in a positive manner, not negative. Sometimes, an individual needs to hear something a little negative in order to be steered into a positive direction, which is what I think Erin and I have been doing in response to Knok and her son. And I hope Cara will have great experiences with her students and specific INDIVIDUALS at Kaplan and not be disillusioned by the business/corporate side of things.
    Last edited by Odyssey Think SAT; 04-20-2005 at 09:02 AM.

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    Re: SAT Instructors

    Kaplan is the oldest and largest of the test prep companies and is owned entirely by the Washington Post Company, which publishes the Washington Post newspaper and also owns Newsweek magazine. Although, Princeton Review (aka TPR = The Princeton Review) is the second largest, they are much smaller than Kaplan, do not have as much resources, and therefore franchise some of their centers.

    Kaplan is on the stock market so everything is about maximizing profits. In the post above, I delineated precisely how cost-cutting has affected Kaplan's academics, specifically the SAT programs from roughly 2000 to the present. Nevermind the ways cost-cutting has also affected Kaplan operations and marketing.

    Kaplan has traditionally focused more on the graduate tests, as that is how it got its reputation and how they make most of their profits. Kaplan has NEVER, not even currently, put much focus on their SAT program. Princeton Review focuses on both graduate tests and SAT, but their reputation was created in the 80's largely from their SAT program featuring the Joe Bloggs character.

    Kaplan's Higher Score Guarantee (HSG) is a calculated move that is essentially not better than any other company's guarantee. Some companies don't have a guarantee of any kind but most will at least let you retake the course. There are 3 aspects to Kaplan's HSG. If you are not (1) satisfied and/or not (2) confident after taking the course, you can retake the course regardless of how you score on the actual SAT...PROVIDED you have done all the required homeworks (in the lesson book AND online) and have not missed more than 2 sessions (missed sessions have to be made up either by attending another class or watching a videotape). Very very very very few students do all the homework, as I mentioned in the post above. Most don't even know how to access the online account in order to do the online homework. In fact, there are so many different databases (that are not connected to each other) at Kaplan that CENTER MANAGERS are confused as well as almost all instructors! Finally, the 3rd prong of HSG is (1) if your actual SAT score is not higher than your baseline (according to a Kaplan practice test or a previous real SAT), then you can get your money back IF you do all the required homework, missed no more than 2 sessions, and made up the sessions you missed. Kaplan doesn't guarantee a 100-pt jump or 200-pt jump, merely an increase of some sort. I still have not heard of a single money back guarantee individual since HSG was instituted over 1 year ago. Why? Because Kaplan knows that IF any student attends all the classes and does all the required homework, they WILL improve their score. At the same time, Kaplan knows that anyone who does not get a score jump most likely did little to no work. Most of the latter won't even be eligible for retaking the course, much less the money back refund. I have heard of a handful of students retaking the Kaplan course but NONE getting a money refund.
    Last edited by Odyssey Think SAT; 04-20-2005 at 09:04 AM.

  5. #5
    SAT/ACT Guru babypurin's Avatar
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    Re: SAT Instructors

    I recently took a course, and definitely can relate to many of your points. A few things, I noticed is that Kaplan has replaced that 200point garuntee to a Higher Score garuntee, meaning even a 10pt increase on the real test can eliminate your chances.

    Also, their seems to be a $100 increase in all their classes. While it seems a lot, they do provide you with their online quiz bank, and send you two more books than their old course (I took both) (Kaplan's 10 SAT's [many errors], Collegeboard 8 SAT's book).

    Your right for the practice test's they couldn't even get accurate results because the curves weren't released, so they even warned us that the scores were not accurate.

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    Re: SAT Instructors

    Babypurin, what exactly were the publications that Kaplan gave you? What do you mean by Kaplan's 10 SAT's? And when you say the CollegeBoard's 8 SAT's, are you talking about the Official SAT Study Guide, which has 8 tests? Here in southern California, Kaplan gives every student the Official SAT Study Guide along with the Kaplan lesson book. Here Kaplan does not give students any other tests except for the 4 diagnostic exams.

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    SAT/ACT Guru babypurin's Avatar
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    Re: SAT Instructors

    I got a package a few weeks I started the Kaplan course, which included :
    - The Official SAT Study Guide - Collegeboard
    - The New SAT - Big Purple Book of 8 of Practice Tests (sorry I thought it was 10)
    - Kaplan Lesson Book
    - Kaplan Raise Your Score (Even More) Book

    When I took Princeton Review last summer, they gave two measly little books.



    By the way, Odyssey Think SAT, has Kaplan gotten rid of their 200 point higher score guarantee? All I hear is Higher Score Guaranteed, but there isn't any mention of certain point increase, like earlier this year.

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    Re: SAT Instructors

    Yes, Higher Score Guarantee (HSG) only requires you to have SOME gain. If you have ANY sort of gain from baseline (a previous real SAT score or a Kaplan diagnostic) to the real SAT, then you are not eligible for the money back guarantee.

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    SAT/ACT Guru babypurin's Avatar
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    Re: SAT Instructors

    Quote Originally Posted by Odyssey Think SAT
    Yes, Higher Score Guarantee (HSG) only requires you to have SOME gain. If you have ANY sort of gain from baseline (a previous real SAT score or a Kaplan diagnostic) to the real SAT, then you are not eligible for the money back guarantee.
    How/When did they change it?

  10. #10
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    Re: SAT Instructors

    Kaplan changed it in the beginning or middle of 2004.

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