School once again offers SAT prep course

O’Brien and Ludington provide English and math instruction


Whitley Walton

Senior Edwin Perez took the school’s SAT prep course last year and said doing so helped him improve his scores.

Whitley Walton, Reporter

Several students already have received their scores from the first SAT of the school year, and for those who are planning to take the college entrance exam, the school offers a prep course.

Math teacher Mrs. Rachel Ludington and English teacher Ms. Laurie O’Brien instruct several sessions of the prep course throughout the school year. un the class. Ludington said, “Essentially, for the math perspective, (students are) not going to see questions like they would see in a regular math class. It’s more like, ‘Can you navigate the test question and can you problem solve around it?’”

O’Brien wrote in an email, “In my mind, the SAT is kind of a necessary evil. While some colleges do not require it (or the ACT, a comparable test), most schools do, and it will factor in to a student’s college admission.” 

The duration of the class is six weeks. Ludington said, “We offer four prep courses through the school year., two first semester and two second semester.” The class meets only on Mondays for two hours. O’Brien said, “Since there are rarely sporting events or theater/music performances on Mondays, we decided to go with Monday evenings.”

The first session already has started, with the second session of the year set for Oct. 28 through Dec. 2. The cost for each session is $150.

Ludington said, “Every course is set up to where the last meeting is a Monday before an SAT day.” 

“Anybody can take it,” Ludington said. “We get students even outside of Cathedral who will take it. Ms. O’Brien and I usually drive it a little bit more towards our juniors.”

O’Brien said, “The classes are open to anyone, but we advise students to wait until late sophomore year or anytime junior year to take (the prep) class. I think doing practice/preparation for the SAT is wise, regardless of the way you do it.”

Ludington added, “We’ve had freshmen take it. I always try to tell parents it’s no rush for freshmen to take it, unless they are really high-achieving students already in Algebra II.”

Regarding the effectiveness of the class, both teachers said it is all dependent on the student and the effort they put into the prep course.

Ludington said, “The kids that come in and really work hard at it and ask questions and are actively involved definitely see that it helps them. What we’re doing with the prep more than anything is setting aside for them 12 hours to sit down and practice the SAT. It gives them interaction with the questions, how the questions are worded, even tiny tweaks.”

O’Brien added, “We have never done a statistical analysis or tracked the scores of students who have taken the class, but we often have students tell us that they improved their scores after the class.”

Senior Edwin Perez took the SAT prep class last February. In his opinion, the prep class was helpful. “It helped me regain all the material that I went over in first semester and refresh everything in order to get prepared for the SAT,” he said

The class was originally created by O’Brien and a former math department chairman. “When I came in 2000, there wasn’t any kind of prep class,” O’Brien said. “Mrs. (Shirley) Stocksdale thought it was a great idea. She offered to teach the math portion of the class, and did so until she retired. Now Mrs. Ludington teaches the math section, and she is outstanding.” 

Both teachers encouraged students to take the class as long as they put in effort. Ludington said, “I recommend it if the students are truly motivated to learn from it. I think a lot of it depends on their mindset.”

O’Brien mirrored Ludington’s thoughts, “Some students are comfortable prepping on their own, while others wouldn’t have the discipline to do so. Some students do better with a one-on-one tutor. It just depends on the individual,” she said.

Perez commented on how the class was not difficult at all. “They give you a prep book so you have the whole section over English, a section over math, and you have teachers who go over it with you,” Perez said. “It’s definitely something really nice to have to get ready for the SATs.”

Class sizes can vary, with the largest class providing instruction for 50 students and the smallest holding fewer than 20. “Definitely around 100 is an average over the course of the four sessions,” Ludington said. “If kids like a much smaller group setting, that last one is the one to go with.”

fO’Brien concluded, “My advice to students is to take both the SAT and ACT, and whichever one they like the best, maybe take that one again. It does not do any good to simply keep taking the tests over and over, unless you do some practice and preparation in between. It really depends on a student’s goals.”

Ludington said, “We’re happy to help you above and beyond. It’s definitely  possible to raise that score and prep can definitely help.” 

For more information on the SAT Prep Course, click here.