Are Your Friends Costing You $100,000 in Scholarship Money?

The 13 most common myths repeated about college entrance and scholarships. Debunking them can change your life and earn you scholarship money.

It’s natural to listen to your friends and take their advice (or at least consider it). That’s part of what makes a good friendship. When it comes to college matters and how to get the best scholarship information, you’re likely to pay attention to what your child’s school counselor says, as well as your friends. What if I told you that this could be a big mistake? One that could cost you $100,000.

Are Your Friends Costing you $100,000 in Scholarship Money?

But let’s not lay all the blame in their laps. By the end of this article, you’ll know what to do and where to get the help and make it ever so much easier to get your well-deserved slice of the scholarship pie. Let’s get down to it then. So …

The Truth About Scholarship Money

Just ask yourself this: Do you think it’s at all possible that people with good intentions are simply regurgitating the same college and SAT information out there, and believe it to be true, just because everybody else does?

There’s a lot at stake here. If you take the advice that’s being followed just because everyone else believes it, you could be saying good-bye to an amount worth your retirement, savings or equity in your family home. What’s worse, is that these well-meaning friends, family, and counselors could even sentence your college-bound child to a loan-restricted life with as much as twenty years of college debt.

This misinformation can saddle families financially and burden the next generation with years of loans, long after graduation. Unless these well-meaning people are willing to pay for your child’s education if they are wrong, then it’s probably best for you to read the rest of this article!

So, today I want to present you with 13 of the biggest myths out there. They are 13 quotes you are likely to hear when you talk with friends, teachers or counselors about taking SAT or similar tests. Or you just might believe it to be true and not know how you learned it. Doesn’t matter what it is. It only matters that you quash that belief and replace it with something far more powerful… You could even call that hope, or optimism, based on a solid foundation of fact! Let’s get started…

13 Myths About Scholarship Money

Big Lie #1:  “It is too early to put test prep on your radar.”   

FACT: The longer one waits, the less time there is to improve. Test prep should be a part of the daily schedule just like other subjects. The results can end in incredible scholarship money and less stress on the students when they are older. Standardized tests are beatable once a student learns the recurring patterns on the test. No professional athlete or concert pianist would wait until right before a game or performance to learn their skill and then hope that they do well.

ACTION: If you are worried about college debt, make test prep a priority because it can yield amazing scholarship offers for your student. Younger students, even 6th and 7th graders can learn how to beat a standardized test by putting time on their side and working on their weaknesses before it counts for money in the high school years. YOU CAN’T GET TIME BACK!

Big Lie #2 “There are free test prep programs online so why pay for one.”

FACT: All test prep companies are not created equal. Whether they are free are very expensive, most programs teach the wrong information such as more math and vocabulary. Basically, they are re-teaching high school all over again. Tests like the SAT and ACT are logic and critical thinking tests. Yes, the College Board partnered with Khan Academy to offer free test prep for all students but Khan had already been teaching it for years so this was nothing new. Although it is a great resource for subject matter, don’t expect that they will teach students shortcuts, strategies or test-taking techniques. Students also work problems on the computer which is a different skillset than pencil and paper so they are practicing incorrectly. Kaplan also partnered with the ACT to offer low-cost prep. The class mainly goes over the ins and outs of the ACT and is riffed full off ads for their expensive program. It also points students back to their overworked counselors for help in raising test scores

ACTION: If a program is not teaching the kids how to answer every question in 30 seconds or less, then you are probably wasting time and often money and only frustrating the students. Find a program that has analyzed the test and recurring patterns with years of reliable testimonials.  

Jim Bohannon (successor to Larry King) told 245 million listeners that College Prep Genius is “the Sam Walton of test prep” since they refuse to charge hundreds, even thousands of dollars for their award-winning program.

Big Lie #3: “The PSAT is a practice SAT and is no big deal.”

TRUTH/FACT: The P is for “preliminary” – not practice. It is also created by the College Board and is a scholarship contest. Score high and you (or your child!) can earn the most amazing benefits; such as full-ride, full tuition, room and board, study-abroad stipends, honors dorms, etc. This test counts in the junior year. However, not everyone knows you can take it in earlier grades to get familiar with it and work on your weaknesses. The good news is that both the SAT and the PSAT are pretty much structured in the same way with the same nature of questions. So …

ACTION: If you’re studying for one, you’re studying for both.  Make sure you actually do proper test-preparation. It could yield results way in excess of your expectations.

Big Lie #4 “We only take the ACT where I live so there is no need to take an SAT prep class.”

FACT: Every college takes either the SAT or ACT and will convert the score if they prefer one over the other. When the SAT is not promoted, then neither is the PSAT which is a scholarship program that can yield benefits as noted in #3. Both the SAT and ACT are about 99% the same and strategies on one work on the other since there is a crossover of information.

ACTION: Have your younger students start preparing for the PSAT 8/9 in 8th and 9th grade. Take the PSAT 10 in the sophomore year and in the junior year is when the PSAT/NMSQT counts for the big scholarship money. As they practice for the PSAT, it will prepare them for the SAT and even the ACT. Some colleges will give more money on one test so take them both.

Big Lie #5: “Don’t worry about any SAT/ACT test prep until the spring of the junior year because then you will have all the math you need.”

FACT: The SAT/ACT are not curriculum-based or IQ tests. They are tests of logic and critical thinking.  It may surprise you to learn that 7th graders often score higher than seniors on the SAT. Every college takes either SAT or ACT scores. Don’t let this worry you. The tests are not testing how smart you are in math, but testing your critical thinking skills on a math problem.

ACTION: Don’t wait until the end of the junior year. By preparing early, students can get their desired school earlier in the year and make the senior year test-optional.

Big Lie #6: “[Your child] will be just fine. They are a good student with a good GPA, honors and AP courses.”

FACT: Smart students, even valedictorians bomb the SAT all the time. Why? Because the questions are designed to purposely mislead test-takers and the wrong answers are tricky and seem appealing. To make it even more challenging, you are only given about one minute for each of the test’s challenging questions.

ACTION: Don’t rely on IQ or what is learned at school to ace standardized tests. Most students approach these tests like normal school tests and not only run out of time but also are confused why these scores don’t reflect their GPAs. Students can learn to beat these tests!

Big Lie #7: “You’ll have plenty of time for test prep.”

FACT: The average junior is involved or participates in many (if not most!) of these activities:

Activity Hours per week
School 40
Homework 8 – 12
Part-time job 15 – 20
Sports (including practice, games and traveling time) 12 – 25
Music / Dance / Clubs (incl. recitals, meetings and practice) 4 – 12+
Friends (parties, sleepovers, hanging out) 5+
Volunteering 2 – 6
Social media 10 ++ (the average teen spends 8 hours per day on devices, texting, gaming, and surfing)

FACT: Juniors are already maxed out on their schedule and cannot add one more thing on their plate. Asking them to give up one or more activities may be more difficult than you think.

ACTION: Start early. Don’t leave it until the last minute. Make it a part of your child’s essential education. Early practice will make taking the tests second nature.

Big Lie #8: “They can always use the summer before the senior year to learn how to take the SAT/ACT.”

FACT: Most students will—and deservedly so—use the summer to relax, recharge, spend more time with friends, work more, volunteer more, go on mission trips, go to summer camps and spend more time on social media. Besides, when faced with chilling out on holidays, which activities would you be willing to give up to study for the SAT?

ACTION: Preparation is different from cramming. And so, it bears repeating: Think of the long haul and start test-prep as early as you can. Everyone needs to recharge their batteries. Try to avoid having to cram SAT preparation at a time when you really need a break.

Big Lie #9: “They can do some test-prep work when school starts.”

FACT: One quick look at the previous table and you can work out that there’s already a full schedule when the school cycle starts all over again. Add that to the significant pressure to get a decent score on the September ACT or August/ October SAT and it’s plain to see there’s little time left to add yet another thing.

ACTION: Without a proper test-prep program, chances are you will approach the test like a normal school test. But since school tests are based on curriculum, and SAT and ACT are based on logic and critical thinking, plain studying techniques will not deliver you the desired score in time for the application process (in November or December). You guessed it: A reliable test-prep program is key!

Big Lie #10: “They will have plenty of time to raise their score to get into the college of their choice.”

FACT: There is no instant success. But more than that, you can’t shortcut the shortcut. Students will need to solidify the information to apply it appropriately by practicing the correct way, and over time. Every college has a minimum score just to get in. This doesn’t even count scholarship money.

ACTION: It will take time to learn the logic behind each question type and how to find the correct answers quickly. First comes introduction, then proficiency and ultimately mastery as they learn to internalize the strategies to ace the SAT and ACT. The results are worth it and could mean you have no college debt and benefit from room and board, stipends, honors dorms and much more.

Big Lie #11: “The GPA is the number one factor for college entrance and scholarship money so working on your grades is the most important thing to spend your time on.”

FACT: This really could be one of the biggest lies you’ll ever hear. You see, in order for the college system to have any sense of fairness, it has to assess all students on the same level. It’s the old “apples to apples” scenario. A GPA of 4.0 at one school (public, private or homeschool) is not the same at another due to human bias and subjectivity and even differences in how schools calculate their scores. This is why the SAT/ACT tests even exist: To create that level playing field. Since colleges are ranked nationally based on test scores of their students, the higher your score – the more money you are likely to get! It’s a simple equation. A low score means less or no money and probably in a low ranked institution. Do you really want to be saddled with what the average student has: Twenty years of college loans and a median college debt of $100,000?

ACTION: You can learn the skills of the SAT and ACT tests and do well! You can use the system to differentiate yourself as a good critical thinker, which is a sign of college readiness. Rank well, earn well, go to a good college and aim for zero debt!

Big Lie # 12: The SATs and ACTs are becoming obsolete.

FACT: About 15% of colleges are “test-optional” or “flexible” but these are usually specialized schools. Many have their own entrance exam similar to the SAT or ACT and if a student wants scholarship money, he or she will still have to send in an SAT or ACT score.85% of colleges admit and give money based on these tests. These tests are not going away because they are the only fair way to compare all students since they are only numerical element common to every applicant.

ACTION: Regardless of the school, students should always prepare for standardized tests. Even junior colleges require a test like the Accuplacer which is made by the SAT test-makers. Tests are a part of life, not just for college entrance, but many companies use standardized tests for their employees.

Big Lie #13: “Certain students, like homeschoolers, are now exempt from taking tests like the SAT.”

FACT: Every student, regardless of where they are educated, needs to take the SAT or ACT for entrance and scholarship money. Colleges often validate the transcript with the student’s test score so these homeschooled students need to take it for credibility.

ACTION: Incorporate daily test prep into the homeschool schedule. It can be used as an elective on the transcript.

Scholarship Money is Tied to Tests

Whether you know this or not, the truth is that the majority of colleges admit and give money solely based on tests like the SAT. Luckily, these tests are highly predictable in nature and format so they are beatable. Standardized tests have standardized questions and standardized answers. You can learn to ace this test once you are taught and understand the recurring patterns and rules that apply.

But don’t wait until the last minute. The longer you wait, the less time there is to improve. If I could give you my biggest tip that will make the biggest difference to you or your child’s future (financial and academic) it would be this: Find some way—and a reputable test-prep company is the best way—to learn the very best test-taking strategies. Make test-prep an early priority and potentially save yourself years of frustration, and translate your efforts into potentially huge financial benefit. Maybe, like my two children, you or your child will get a totally free ride in the tertiary institution of their choice. Now, can you think of a better start to adult life than that?

Your decision about college should be based on attending your ideal course in the institution of your choice, and not based on your finances.

If the SAT determines where you get to go to college and who’s going to pay, make your efforts really count!

If you’re worried about the legacy of College debt then I invite you go watch, How to Ace the SAT and Get FREE College at I taught my kids how to do this. And since then I have helped literally tens of thousands of students create a better future for themselves. I would love to help you!

College Prep Genius is the official test prep of HSLDA.

Jean Burk

About the author

Jean Burk is the author of College Prep Genius and is a Fox News contributor who has been featured on many TV networks, radio shows and magazines. Both her children were homeschooled and earned incredible scholarships including free college, free grad school, and free law school because of their standardized test scores.

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