In college test prep industry, cheaper options available

WASHINGTON — Is there a price that a worried parent wouldn’t pay to help their child do well on college admissions tests? The good news is that test preparation doesn’t have to be expensive anymore.

The multimillion dollar coaching industry is facing competition from free or low-cost alternatives in what their founders hope will make the process of applying to college more equitable. Such innovations are also raising questions about the relevance and the fairness of relying on standardized tests.

The online education platform Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board to provide free coaching for the SAT test. Top commercial programs cost around $1,000.

According to a study released Monday by the College Board, 20 hours of free online learning at Khan Academy led to an average gain of 55 points on the 1,600-point test scale compared with students who didn’t engage in the program. The College Board, a non-profit organization, owns the SAT.

“We need to start to level the playing field,” Khan Academy founder Salman Khan told The Associated Press. “It is never OK that some students have access to some tools that other students do not.”

The study, shared with the AP ahead of publication, compared 250,000 students from the graduating class of 2017 who took the practice PSAT…

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