Kim organizes free online test prep

In the current global pandemic, standardized tests have become just one of the thousands of events that have been postponed. Despite that, many students are spending their time during the lockdown searching for methods to prepare for these eventual tests at home. 

For such students, Patrick Kim (11) has collaborated with Ohio-based nonprofit Aspiration Prep to provide online test tutoring—free of cost. 

Kim founded and manages Aspiration Prep’s first branch in California, and is one of many students in the nonprofit who provide free standardized test prep around the country. 

While tutors and test-preparation camps have grown in popularity, they’re often unavailable to students with limited finances, due to their high price tags. 

“Some people can’t afford the $5,000 SAT/ACT prep that [businesses like] Elite and Hamilton offer over the summer,” Kim said. “For the people who aren’t able to, they can, or anyone in San Diego really, can just come in, listen, and learn the same material that they would at Elite or Hamilton.”

While Kim initially planned to provide in-person tutoring at Westview, the current lockdown has led him to move tutoring to hour-long online Zoom calls every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. 

Kim said his curriculum is a combination of the lessons provided by Aspiration Prep with those from Khan Academy and various SAT/ACT prep books. He said he aims to offer an in-depth lesson plan similar to that of Hamilton and Elite, just without the cost. 

Teaching these lesson plans with Kim are fellow junior volunteers Aaron Fan (11), Alice Chen (11), and Miguel Monares (11). Fan and Chen teach math and language arts, respectively, while Monares reviews practice tests with Kim. 

A total of 17 students signed up for their first tutoring session onMonday, mostly consisting of Westview students, but with some hailing from other local high schools such as University City, Chula Vista and Torrey Pines. 

Although the University of California and California State University schools announced leniency in its evaluation of test scores for current juniors, with the UC system completely eliminating their score requirement, Kim said he believes that earning a high score would still be a great advantage for juniors in the college admission process. 

“[I think that] just having a good score to send in would give you a higher chance of getting in regardless of whether it’s required or not,” Kim said.” “I do think it’s still equally as important as it was even if it was required.”

To Kim, providing free test prep is important because of how great of an advantage having it can play in the college admissions process. 

“Especially for standardized tests, rather than how much do you know, it’s more just how well you can prep for it,” Kim said.

Services like those offered by Hamilton may be expensive. However, Kim says receiving help from their professionals, who make it a living to increase test scores, can be a great advantage.

 “Making [test prep] free,” Kim said. “We’re trying to get [college admissions] as equal as possible.”