Can’t wait to graduate from high school so you can go to the school of your dreams? Remember that there should be a lot of preparation while still in high school to make sure you can get into the school and program you want to. To get into the best schools, you’ll need a high SAT score, and you can prepare with a great SAT prep course!
Plenty of students plan to go to college after high school, but not all are active in making sure they can get into the school of their choice. They’ll need an SAT score that meets the requirements of their preferred college. The higher the SAT score you get, the longer the list of colleges you can get into. While it’s true that some colleges no longer look at SAT scores as part of their admissions process, for most colleges, it remains an important factor.
The SAT is a test that you have to take seriously, and you should be as prepared as possible. For that, you’ll need to consider investing in an SAT prep course. You can recoup the expense of the course and other study materials in the future since the average wages of a college graduate is higher than that of someone with only a high school diploma. A good SAT score may also help you in applying for some kinds of scholarships, which could save you money.
How We Chose the Programs
Our list of the best SAT prep courses takes into account several factors.
Here are some of the key factors:
- Multiple course options- It’s better for you if an SAT prep course provider offers several different formats and lengths. That way, you can select a format that suits your needs and preferences.
- Content delivery options- Is there an online program that you can use to study at your own pace? This is better than a scheduled online program that may not fully match your schedule or rate of learning. If you need a tutor, they should be available either online or in person. In some cases, courses may offer add-on features such as subscription extensions or extra tutoring sessions.
- Comprehensive topic coverage- The best options are those which cover all the SAT sections. That way, you can be sure that you’ve prepared properly for all the topics that the SAT will test you for. Even if you think you’re strong in a particular section, it’s still best to review that section for reinforcement. It’s also important that the content materials are updated to match any changes in the SAT coverage.
- Money-back guarantees- It’s great if you have an assurance that you’re not wasting your money in a prep course that doesn’t work for you. Some programs have refund policies if you don’t improve your SAT performance by a certain number of points. Other money-back policies return your money if you’re not completely satisfied.
- Free trials- One way to know for sure if a prep course suits your needs is to try it out for free. At the very least, there should be a money-back guarantee for a certain time frame so you can see if you’re satisfied with the features.
- Cost (and value for money)- Obviously, don’t start into an SAT prep course if you can’t afford it. Some cheaper prep courses can still offer very good quality. You need to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth for the features and services you get.
- Access period- A good prep course should be able to give you access to the study materials when you need it. The longer access you have, the more you’re able to study without worrying about the time frame.
- Compatibility with your devices- Some websites are best with just desktop PCs, which limits their usefulness. The more versatile courses have mobile-optimized websites or even a mobile app.
- Experienced and knowledgeable faculty- The experts who design the courses and teach the students should have the necessary skills and experience in SAT prep tutoring.
- Practice exams- It’s best if you can take part in practice exams as part of your preparations. The more practice exams you get, the more prepared you’ll be.
- Versatile content and study materials- Typical materials include video lessons, flashcards, and books (online or in print). Other materials that may be offered include score predictors (using your current practice performance and essay reviews.
- Progress tracker- It’s best if the prep course offers a way to track the progress of the student. This way, it encourages students to know they’re getting better. Also, it shows them the areas that still need more work.
- Interface quality- The website the study materials are on should be easy to use and navigate and should feel engaging and interesting. The website should load quickly and offer high-quality materials.
- User support- A prep course should offer an easy way for students to ask for help when they need it. These can include 24/7 email support, with quick responses containing clear answers. Some courses offer live chat support, so you can ask questions and get answers right away.
Top 8 Courses
- $899 ($599 with a discount) Online and in-person
- SAT 1400+$1,599 ($1,299 with discount) Online and in-person
- SAT 1500+$2,299 ($1,999 with discount) Online
- Summer Camp $1,499 ($1,199 with discount) Online
- Money-back guarantee
- 1-year of access
- At least 18 hours of instruction
- Proctored tests
- PSAT prep
- Offers ACT and SAT guidance
- Portal apps for parents and students
Princeton Review has been around for decades, so they have established a formidable reputation for effective tutoring. Sure, these courses are expensive. But if you can afford the course fees, it won’t take long to recoup these costs if the preparation means you can get into the college of your choice.
The Ultimate plan offers 3 proctored tests, while the SAT 1400+ offers 4 tests. Both the SAT 1400+ and SAT 1500+ offer a guaranteed score, which really helps you in gauging its effectiveness. Princeton Review also offers private tutoring at $150 an hour, which you can get online or in person.
With the more affordable Ultimate plan, you get extra full-length practice tests, along with other practice tests for particular sections. You’re able to check out at least 140 video lessons. You get at least 18 hours of instruction. There are 240 drills and at least 2,000 practice questions.
Your study plans and even homework assignments are customized for your specific needs. The full score reports give you comprehensive feedback on your practice test results so that you know which areas you need more help on.
The SAT 1400+ plan is the most popular, and it’s understandable enough with a guaranteed score of 1400. However, this only applies if you already have a starting score of at least 1200.
This plan doubles the instruction hours (whether live or in-person) to at least 36 hours, with top-percentile instructors. You’re able to get on-demand tutoring at any time. The prep course also uses a special AI algorithm to personalize your practice drills.
- A year’s access to all the materials online
- A self-paced study plan, with live online or in person classes
- Tutors help explain difficult concepts
- Drills designed to target weak spots
- Plenty of guarantees such as target scores come with the plans
- The websites may not be optimized for smaller smartphone screens
- There’s no free trial, though there’s a money-back guarantee
Bottom Line: Princeton Review offers a proven SAT prep course with premium materials and quality to match the high costs.
- 1-month access. $100
- 3-month access. $119
- 12–month access. $129 ($100 with promo)
- At least 200 video lessons
- At least 1,750 practice questions (with video explanations)
- 3 practice tests
- Email assistance
- Score prediction
- 100-point increase guaranteed
- 7-day money-back guarantee
Magoosh is one of the more famous brands in the test prep course industry. Their main claim to fame is that they prove that prep courses don’t have to be all that expensive. Magoosh offers more affordable prep courses for various tests, and at ridiculously low rates. At the same time, they’ve also proven that these affordable courses can be effective as well.
They offer a single SAT prep course, though there are 3 plans that determine the length of your access. This single plan is very thorough, with plenty of practice questions and video lessons to help you study the needed subjects.
As these are video lessons you can access at any time, you direct your own pace and study at your own schedule. You can set a weekly schedule, and then you get SMS reminders when it’s time to hunker down and study. You can focus on particular sections for each study session, and you even get points for the day to help you track your progress.
Everything is all about self-study with this, but you get the guidance you need so you’re able to focus on the subject matter. This may be more of a challenge for some who struggle with motivation or need deadlines to help them stay on track. However, if you have a problem, there’s still email support so you don’t get stuck.
The Magoosh prep course offers 2 mobile apps so you can practice at any time. One of them comes with flashcards for vocabulary and math concepts. The other app offers video lessons and practice questions you can study while on your smartphone.
If you’ve taken the SAT before, then you can also take advantage of the 100-point guaranteed increase. If you’re unable to get your score higher by 100 points, you get your money back through PayPal.
- Study at your own pace
- Plenty of video lessons
- Even the practice questions come with video explanations
- 7-day money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied
- You’re guaranteed to boost your old score by 100 points
- Mobile apps available
- Affordable plans
- No live tutoring
- No reading materials
Bottom Line: Affordable SAT prep course is for those who are completely self-driven, and who prefer video lessons over books.
- SAT On Demand $149
- SAT Live Online $599
- SAT Live Online Plus $899
- Unlimited Prep (SAT, PSAT, ACT) $1,599
- Unlimited Prep (SAT, PSAT, ACT) with Tutoring $1,999
- At least 50 video lessons
- Quizzes for each lesson
- More than 1,000 practice questions
- 18 hours of live online instruction (for SAT Live Courses)
- Latest SAT prep books (for SAT Live Courses)
- 1-on-1 coaching (Plus programs only)
- Math Foundations (Plus programs only)
- ACT prep resources (Plus programs only)
- 6-month access
With Kaplan, the premise is that you can study for just 30 minutes a day and still come out completely prepared. They even offer a 7-day free trial for you to see for yourself.
The basic SAT On Demand course offers self-study at your own pace, with the materials available for access at any time. You start with a diagnostic test, which then helps you determine which areas need particular attention.
The video lessons here are engaging, and they’re more likely to hold your attention. They make good use of music and animation to drive home the lessons. Also, the instructors on the videos feel like they’re talking to you when explaining things. They don’t drone on and on.
The best course for your money here is probably the SAT Live Online course. This is because you get more study materials than the bare-bones SAT On Demand course. You have more practice questions, and more actual books to pore over. You also receive hours of live online instruction.
The Live Online option also offer 8 practice tests, and these include 4 College Board official practice tests. You’re able to access the Quiz Bank (Qbank, for short), which gives you more practice questions to try out. You get books on SAT preparation, which really helps when you don’t have online access.
With the Plus option, you even get 3 hours of 1-on-1 tutoring, which helps you when you’re unable to understand some concepts on your own. There are extra materials for math foundations, and you even get prep materials for the ACT too.
- Plenty of prep course options
- Lots of practice tests
- Available tutoring
- ACT study materials can also be available
- There’s no mobile app
- The best features cost more
Bottom Line: It offers a lot: self-paced online, live online, online tutoring, and private tutoring, but everything seems costly.
- Bootcamp $799, designed for those with less than 6 weeks of prep time left
- Coaching $399 per month
- Coaching Plus $599 per month
- Free consultation with diagnostic practice test
- Weekly video chat coaching with a dedicated expert
- Daily assignments with Testive software
- Testive parent portal
- 100 practice questions
- 1 practice test per month
This is all about admitting that a high school student often doesn’t have the will to study on their own without someone prodding them.
That’s where the Coaching plan comes in. A coach is assigned who can help answer questions and clarify concepts. The coach goes beyond a tutor though because they check in with the student regularly, using email and text messages. The coach also communicates with the parents regularly, so that the parents know where their child is at in their studies for the SAT.
The Testive parent portal is great for parents who are worried about whether their child is actually studying for the SAT. This portal lets the parents read the notes from the coach, and also lets them see the summary reports regarding their kid’s practice test performance.
The Testive plan also prioritizes improving the weak spots of the student. That’s why there’s a diagnostic test beforehand.
The Testive learning software also takes notes on which areas the student is struggling with. The questions also become harder as the students improve. When the student gives a wrong answer, they know right away. They then get the answer and an explanation on the spot. The video then explains how to answer the question the right way.
It’s expensive, though, as Testive recommends enrolling for 4 months. That’ll cost parents $1,596.
- Adaptive software for picking questions
- Right answers and explanations are offered right away
- Parents can monitor their kid’s progress
- The coach can help keep the students accountable for their studies
- The monthly plans tend to be expensive
- Only 1 practice test per month
Bottom Line: Kids will be kids, so the coach and the parents help the student stay on the right path with daily assignments.
- Fundamental SAT eCourse $139
- Comprehensive SAT eCourse $189
- Bootcamp classes
- 12 lessons
- College Prep Genius Textbook
- College Prep Genius Workbook
- Class Notes Outline
- Journal for Success
- Complete Homework Guide
- SAT Essay Templates
- 15 Secrets to Free College (Comprehensive SAT)
- High School Prep Genius (Comprehensive SAT)
- Complete Vocab Café Series Books (Comprehensive SAT)
The Bootcamp courses are somewhat limited, so we focused more on the 2 SAT eCourses. Basically, this is more about reading books than anything else. Even when you’re online, you go through the same material as everybody else.
There’s nothing really wrong with this, and the prices are reasonable. However, there’s no adaptive software and no practice questions with video explanations. You get the 12 online interactive lessons, and that’s it.
What you have are online books you can study at your leisure. It’s as if you went into a bookstore, bought various books on the SATs, and then used them to study. This works best if you prefer reading and independent study over video lessons.
- Access to lots of books
- You don’t really get any tutoring
- No adaptive software picking the right questions
- No way to focus on your weaknesses
Bottom Line: It’s all about the old-school method of studying from books.
- 6-Week Flagship
- 6-Week Advanced
- 3-Week Fast Track
- Self-Paced Video
- Weekend Review
- 3-hour SAT classes
- Practice SAT exams
- Homework between classes
- HD videos
There are basically 2 options here. One option is to go with the SAT classes, with homework and practice tests in between. This is designed for students who excel in regular school classes as they follow a similar mode of instruction. You get classes, and you study in between.
The other main option is the HD videos. This time, the student studies at their own pace. You do the exams and homework as you like and at your convenience.
The good news here is that with the 6-week Flagship option, there’s a guarantee that your score will jump by at least 200 points. The 3-week Fast Track option offers a 100-point guarantee. The self-paced video option, though, offers only a 10-point guarantee.
The lessons here include more than a hundred strategies to guide the student from beginning to end. You do need to be on time for the live online classroom instruction. Unlike the videos, you can’t pause the lesson.
There are actually private tutoring options as well, but the rates can reach up to $300 an hour. You can get 16 hours of tutoring for almost $4,000.
- Offers both videos and live instruction options
- Comes with guarantees for increased points
- Video access lasts for 1 year
- The flagship course is a bit expensive
- Private tutoring is expensive
Bottom Line: It’s like being back in school again, except you’re online.
- Kranse SAT Prep (2020)
- 147 bite-sized video lectures
- 540 days of instant access
- Updated for the new SAT® PSAT/NMSQT® 2020
- Progress tracking included
- Free printable SAT® PSAT/NMSQT® practice tests
- Free mobile app download
When they say bite-sized video lectures, they mean it. Each video lesson here averages about 10 minutes in length. You can use your PC or laptop. You also have the option to go with the mobile app, which now offers 206 of these short video lessons.
The program is free with the course, and it tracks the student’s progress. It also offers tips and even cash prizes for extra motivation.
When we checked, the current price of the course is $499. Normally, it’s $599. There’s also a free ebook regarding college applications in general.
- Comes with a mobile app
- 5-year access
- Not too expensive
- Engaging videos for those with short attention spans
- No focus on weak spots
- No 1-on-1 instruction
- No adaptive software
Bottom Line: Engaging videos with a mobile app can help if you need flexibility.
- SAT Quick Prep
- SAT Complete Package
Course Features (Complete Package)
- 24 Day SAT Study Guide
- 65+ Academic Review & Score-Specific Strategy Video Tutorials Available On-Demand
- 2 Paper-And-Pencil SAT Prep Books Delivered to Your Doorstep
- 2 Full-Length SAT Practice Tests
- Weekly Countdown Emails Sent to Both Parents & Students
- Unlimited Email Support
- BONUS: Personalized Q&A Video Replies ($250+ Value)
- BONUS: Cash for College Workshop ($97 Value)
- BONUS: Quick Prep for the PSAT ($187 Value)
The study guide here is designed for the student to complete in about 8 to 12 weeks. You get the video tutorials you need, which you can access at any time and at your own pace. But you’re also able to get personalized guidance from an expert, though this is only through a Q&A portal.
This is a very simple package, with none of the adaptive software that you get with the other prep courses. That is, the questions you get won’t be set to your current skill level. In addition, you have to find out about your weaknesses on your own. There’s no software pinpointing your weak spots for you to focus on.
- Long access period
- Emails to students and parents
- 2 practice tests
- No real 1-on-1 tutoring
- No adaptive software for question selection
Bottom Line: A no-frills prep course for those who can study on their own.
Compare Princeton Review vs. Magoosh vs. Kaplan
Magoosh is the lean SAT prep course that’s basically all about self-study. This will guide you, and you can study at your own pace. The good news here is that you have plenty of materials, and even mobile apps to help you study when you’re not busy.
Princeton, on the other hand, offers the complete package. You have video lessons, hours of instruction, practice tests, and even guaranteed test score improvements. The big drawback is that it’s so expensive.
Kaplan offers alternatives to both Magoosh and Princeton Review. Kaplan has something similar to Magoosh, but it’s more expensive and it doesn’t offer as much study materials as Magoosh. Kaplan also has a course that’s similar to Princeton Review, but it’s not quite as comprehensive.
So you basically have 3 options here. You can go with the inexpensive Magoosh, which offers materials and practice tests that you can take at any time. The Princeton Review will offer you a lot more—but you pay a lot more as well. You could also take the middle route with Kaplan. The best Kaplan courses are pretty much Princeton-lite. It’s not as good as what you get with Princeton Review, but it’s not as expensive either.
Tips for Making the Most of Any Prep Course
The SAT prep course you take won’t magically make you better. You still have to do the studying, and your 100 point increase won’t happen overnight. Here are some tips that can help you maximize the benefits of your prep course:
- Create a doable timetable. You need a study plan that you can follow, which also suits your current schedule. You can’t just study when you’re in the mood, or when you “have time”. Make time for your SAT prep. Keep to your schedule.
- Take lots of practice tests. There’s a reason why we emphasize the number of practice tests that an SAT prep course offers. But even a single practice test can really help. You can have a better idea of the overall test structure and get an advance look at the instructions. You can also familiarize yourself with the type of questions you’d be getting on the actual test. By taking lots of tests, you won’t feel too pressured when it’s the real thing.
- Identify weaknesses while practicing. You should review all the questions that you answered incorrectly, so that you can learn from your mistakes. You also should check out all the questions that took you a long time to answer, so you can answer them more quickly on the real thing. The key is to work on areas that need improvement, and not spend too much time on areas where you don’t need too much help.
- Use your free time to study. This is why we like prep courses with websites that work with smartphones. That way, you can’t use the lack of a laptop or PC as an excuse to slack off. Everyone has a smartphone these days—be smart and use yours. When you’re eating lunch, go online and study or take practice questions.
- Keep on reading. Read newspapers, books, online articles, and more. Don’t read mindlessly though. Be on the lookout for words that you don’t understand. Look up every unfamiliar word so you know what each means, and then you can use these words yourself in various essays and writing assignments.
- Memorize all basic math formulas and concepts. Know each one by heart, if it will be part of the SAT exam.
Studying for anything isn’t easy. Sometimes, it’s extremely difficult. A good SAT prep course should make things easier for you by having plenty of resources and a logical study plan laid out for you so that you can focus on what you have to do. Then you won’t waste time trying to figure out what you have to do next.
Obviously, the best SAT prep courses are the ones that actually work for you, by giving you the score you really work for. In the end, these prep courses can only help you to help yourself. Study hard, do your best, score big!