Every year, millions of high school students take the SATs, an important exam for those who want to attend college. The SAT is a standardized entrance exam used by most universities and colleges to make admission decisions.
As an exam, the SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil and paper test created by the College Board. The main purpose of this exam is to measure a high school student’s aptitude for college and determine if they are prepared for higher education.
SAT scores aren’t the only thing colleges look at when choosing students. College admission offices review standardized test scores, classes you took, letters of recommendation, admissions interviews, essays, and extracurricular activities.
However, a student who has a high SAT score increases their chances of getting into some of the best colleges in the United States. In fact, some colleges expect their applicants to have very high SAT scores to even have a chance of being accepted into the program.
With competition being stiff, and students needing to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through a single exam, finding the best way to prepare for the SAT is paramount. There are many organizations that provide SAT prep courses and course materials for students. These courses prepare students for the SATs and help them go over the material expected on the test.
What Are SAT Prep Classes?
SAT prep classes are special classes taken outside of school that help prepare you for the content covered in the exam. Typically, SAT prep classes teach you the key subjects of math, writing, and reading, which you are expected to know when taking the exam.
Some classes go beyond simply teaching you about the subject matter. These classes may take time to teach you about the structure of the SAT and what test-taking strategies to implement to improve your score.
Finding the Right SAT Prep Class
There are two ways for students to take SAT prep courses. The first way is through free courses, which are widely available both online and in person. These free materials are practical and they are available to students who are motivated to study themselves and prepare for the exam.
There are also paid SAT prep courses. These courses are available in a variety of ways, such as through classrooms, online programs, one-on-one tutoring, and much more. SAT prep classes can vary in price, with some costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
However, whether free or paid, there are things you should keep an eye out for when choosing an SAT prep course.
The first thing you should keep an eye out for is small class sizes. If the class has over 10 students, then you may not get as much one-on-one time with the teacher. A smaller class size means the teacher can spend more time focusing on your trouble areas and help make sure you’re fully prepared for the exam.
The other thing you should look out for is that the class is taught by an expert who received a high or even perfect score on the test themselves. Being taught by an individual who has earned a high score ensures you get the best prep from someone who has already taken the exam.
Finally, the best SAT prep courses guarantee results. These guarantees are usually established as point improvements, or that you will meet a certain score threshold. The best guarantees are from courses that state if you don’t fall within a score threshold, you will get most or all of your money back.
Do SAT Prep Courses Really Help?
Simply put, the jury is still out on how helpful SAT prep courses are to students. There are several companies that claim SAT prep can raise students’ scores by 100 points or more. However, that isn’t always the case.
In fact, a study by the College Board showed SAT coaching leading to a point increase of just eight points in verbal skills and an average math score increase of only 18 points. These increases are hardly worth the several thousands of dollars it takes to join some SAT prep programs.
However, those small increases can still have a significant impact on college admission. Some colleges and universities have a test score cutoff. This means that if you earned 10 or 30 points more on your test through an SAT prep course, you could overcome that threshold and get into the college of your choosing.
It’s difficult to say how much an SAT prep course can help improve your test score. What’s important is that you choose an SAT prep class that can improve your overall studies while also focusing on your trouble areas.
SAT Prep Course Cons
While there are significant benefits to SAT prep courses and students who raise their scores after taking them, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best fit for everyone. Below are a few reasons why you should reconsider taking a prep course.
One important reason is if your college choice doesn’t require you to take the test. There are several colleges and universities that recognize a student’s skills and knowledge cannot be measured by a single exam. These universities don’t require you to submit your SAT or ACT scores.
However, these schools do require you to submit something in exchange, such as completing an interview, writing an additional essay, submitting a graded high school paper, or something else. To find out specifics, you’ll have to ask the school.
If you’ve already taken the SAT and wish to get a higher score, you may not need to. If your score falls within the 75 percentile range or higher, then there is no reason for you to improve your score through test prep courses. Most colleges will accept you with that score. Here, you can see what some selective colleges require of you in terms of your score.
Finally, self-motivated students won’t find much in SAT prep courses. If you’re already teaching yourself through test preparation books and utilizing various free online resources available to you, then you may not need a classroom setting to study further.
If you truly feel that you aren’t prepared for the exam, take a look at the resources available to you before choosing to sign up for an expensive prep course.
Best SAT Prep Class Services
Whether online or in-person, there are several SAT prep class services available to students who want to study from the comfort of their own home.
The Princeton Review offers several SAT prep options to students. There is a full self-paced course, a program led by experts, and personalized private tutoring. The self-paced program even offers SAT online courses with on-demand video lessons. With dozens of hours of live instruction available, students have multiple studying options and practice questions to take to fully prepare them for the test.
Note that these courses can be expensive. They range from $99 to $3,000, but they are one of the most trusted resources for SAT prep.
Khan Academy is a personalized resource that provides free education to anyone who needs it. Its program has several practice exercises and instructional videos for students who want to prepare for their SATs.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
What sets Khan Academy apart from other SAT prep courses is that it has partnered with The College Board, provider of the SAT. This means Khan Academy offers an official SAT prep course.
Test Prep Review offers practice exams for many standardized tests, not just the SAT. Through its website, you can quiz yourself on SAT questions.
The site gives you the freedom to choose what sort of problems to test yourself on in order to refine your skills and increase your test-taking abilities.
Kaplan has a free SAT Turbo Test, which is a shorter version of the SAT. This test helps students see what their score would be if they took the SAT.
Kaplan also offers various Questions of the Day with explanations to each answer to help students prepare for the exam.
One of the most effective and common forms of studying is through flashcards. Varsity Tutors is a test prep website that offers SAT practice through such materials, as well as subject tests and their Question of the Day.
Users are also given the ability to create tests for themselves and others, which means you have access to a large number of tests created by a community to help you prepare.
Being the provider of the SAT, it is important to see what resources the College Board has to offer. You’ll find sample questions, tutorials, Questions of the Day, practice tests, and more for SAT prep on College Board’s website.
0The SATs are an important test for many students and there is a great deal of pressure on them to succeed. However, you shouldn’t feel that you don’t have the ability to properly prepare for the exam. There are several incredible resources, both free and paid, that can help you become SAT-ready.
The SAT is just the first step. Download the Career Karma app today to learn about colleges, degree programs, careers, and more.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.