Or, all the money that went to College Board / ETS and GMAC over the years.
As a veteran standardized-test-taker who have recently (and happily) said goodbye to standardized tests, I’ve decided to take reader S’s suggestion and tally up all the money that went into this little 1-person enterprise of standardized test-taking.
The numbers will be an approximation (to the best of my memory + googling) for the tests I took in high school.
- 10th grade: PSAT:
Cost to take: $10-$14 (?)
- 10th-12th grade: Advanced Placement Tests (5 total)
Cost to take: $135 each = $675 total
- 11th grade: SAT I (taken twice – I might be showing my age, but when I took it the full score was 1600, not 2400)
Cost to take: $25 each = $50 total
Cost to send top score to colleges (12 colleges) = $8 each = $96 total
Test-Prep: $0 – my high-school counselor somehow got me into a class that a prep organization was doing as a pro-bono project.
- 11th grade: SAT II (3 tests, each taken twice)
Cost to take: $25 each = $150 total
Cost to send 3 top scores to schools: $8 each = $18 total
Test Prep: $500-$1,000? I was sent to tutoring every day after school for a couple of months.
- Post-college: GMAT (taken twice)
Cost to take: $250 each = $500 total
Test Prep: ~$1,800 – this includes a formal 9 week prep class and a couple of additional workshops.
Adding up all the numbers… comes to out to around $4,000. Just on testing and test-prep alone.
There are some people who are innately good at standardized tests. They study for two weeks and get a 99.999th percentile on the first try. They are the ones who get 780s on GMATs and 176s on LSATs. (Yes, I know people like them. I try not to hate too much. 😉 ).
Then there are people who really struggle with standardized testing in general – they may be very smart individuals who are just not good at these types of tests.
I think I fall somewhere in the middle – I usually score better than median on the diagnostic just as a benefit of the education I have received to date (and as an avid reader my verbal skills tends to rank fairly high off the bat), but I definitely need to study over a consistent period of time to get a good score.
That’s where test preparation (and the financial resources it required) has helped me a great deal.