The price of preparation

August 13, 2004

While some universities welcome admissions tests, others fear they will exclude students from poor backgrounds. Alan Thomson looks at the arguments

Kaplan Inc has prepared students for SATs in the US for 65 years and puts its commercial success down to the fact that students can be coached and tutored for any test.

Louise Cook, director of Kaplan's UK centre, said: "Eighty-five per cent of our customers come through personal referral. So people are clearly pleased with the services we offer.

"Anyone going into a test should be prepared. If you were going in for a marathon, you would not do it without preparation. We are simply helping people to perform to the best of their potential."

She said Kaplan's BioMedical Admissions Test and National Admission Test for Law preparation courses included a review of the content of the tests designed.

Students also sit two full-length Bmat or Lnat tests and get feedback on their performance.

They receive advice on examinations strategy, including the most efficient way to answer multiple-choice questions, and are taught stress-management techniques.

All this does not come cheap: the Bmat and Lnat courses cost £199, discounted from £249. Five hours of private tutoring costs £300. Repeating a Bmat or Lnat course within a year costs £75.

Ms Cook said Kaplan was looking into providing bursaries and the possibility of offering free places on its courses.

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