Project helps students access SAT, ACT prep at low cost

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Project helps students access SAT, ACT prep at low cost

3:22 p.m. PDT April 9, 2016

As high school students prepare to take college admissions tests, an internet-based program offers a lower-cost alternative for SAT or ACT prep classes .

The eKnowledge Donation Project provides online prep materials for students to use at little to no cost with their PowerPrep program. Instead of paying $350 for a test prep class, students pay a $19.99 fee for shipping and handling of their materials.

The eKnowledge PowerPrep program can be accessed anywhere via internet and gives instructional videos, practice questions from past tests, quizzes, drills, flashcards, and more for the students to use in their studies.

Scott Hildebrandt, president of the eKnowledge Donation Project, said a wide range of people use the program — including military, public, and private school students and beyond. The program has served more than 225,000 families in the 11 years it has been available, with 1,168 users coming from Oregon since 2013.

Hildebrandt said the project was started when research found a segment of the population was being underserved and not able to access these materials.

“So many realize how important these tests are and just can’t afford the prep,” he said. “The financial need is there.”

SAT and ACT tests are seen as key indicators of college success. And while more colleges and universities are becoming “test-optional” in their admissions, more students are taking the tests than ever before.

According to the College Board,  1.7 million students from the class of 2015 took the SAT, compared to 1.67 million students from the graduating class of 2014 and 1.65 million in the class of 2011.

To get the word out to students, the project partners with local networks and schools that have existing infrastructure to tell families.

The students can go at their own pace, which allows them to focus on their specific needs. They also have access to detailed explanations of the questions and answers, Hildebrandt said.

While they do not have live tutors yet, they have thought about hiring them in the future. However, hiring tutors would mean raising the price in order to pay them, and he said they want to keep the costs as low as possible.

“Before the internet … there was no way to bring down the cost,” he said. “Now, it is a fraction of the price.”

The program is planning to roll out an iPad and mobile version of the program, so students can practice on the go.

“The fact is those exams are there now,” he said. “Our job is to prepare them as best as we can.”

Tony Heacock from Portland used the program and sent in a positive comment.

“I am extremely grateful for this low-cost option since I am an 11th grade high school student in Oregon that lives below the poverty line,” he wrote. “My future goals are to become a mountain guide and earn an online masters degree in writing.

“Thank you for your sponsorship.”

For more information, or to access the free and discounted programs, go to www.eknowledge.com/SJ or call 951-256-4076 for customer support.

npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter@Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist or on the Web at nataliepate.com

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