Are you getting ready to apply for college and want to make sure you have the best SAT score possible? If you’re a high school student looking to maximize your SAT score, the good news is that there are plenty of online SAT prep services out there to help you prepare.
What is the SAT?
The SAT is a critical part of the application process for many aspiring college grads. Many colleges and universities use this high-stakes test to determine whether or not to admit a prospective student. The SAT includes two main sections: math and evidence-based reading/writing. There is also an optional essay section some colleges require. Scoring on the SAT ranges from 400-1600, with the average score being 1060, and the test lasts for 3 hours (tack on an additional 50 minutes if you’re taking the essay). For more general information about the SAT, visit the College Board.
Is Online SAT Prep Right for Me?
Choosing the right mode of learning for the SAT can be overwhelming, and can indirectly affect your performance in the exam. Like other modes of prep, online prep has both pros and cons. Online prep is best suited for you if you work best alone and are not a fan of a group class setting. Most of the online SAT prep resources are self-paced and can be easily accessed from the comfort of your home. If you want more flexibility in your study plan, consider online prep for your SAT.
What is Covered on the SAT?
The SAT exam is made up of 4 sections which are:
- Evidence-Based Reading
- Writing and Language
- Essay (Optional)
Evidence-based reading is the first section of the SAT exam and it encompasses 52 questions to be answered in 65 minutes. This section requires students to interpret and analyze a range of material including multi-paragraph passages in areas of literature, history, science, and social studies. This section tests your reading skills and how well you pay attention to details.
The writing and language section comprises 44 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. Your knowledge of key English language topics such as grammar, punctuation, and sentence structures are tested here. All questions are multiple-choice and based on passages.
The SAT math section tests students’ understanding of various mathematical concepts, operations, and relations, and is divided into two subsections:
SubSection 1: No calculator permitted
SubSection 2: Calculator permitted.
SubSection 1 contains 20 questions to be completed in 25 minutes and focuses mainly on algebra, trigonometry, and geometry. SubSection 2 contains 38 questions to be completed in 55 minutes and focuses mainly on topics like advanced math, problem solving, and data analysis.
While most questions are multiple-choice, 22 percent are grid-in questions which mean students have to provide answers to them.
The essay used to be an optional section to take and students were allocated 50 minutes to complete. But as announced earlier by the College Board, after the June 2021 administration, the SAT Essay will be discontinued.
Should I Take the SAT or ACT?
Both the SAT and ACT are standardized college admission tests accepted by all universities in the United States and were created to give equal opportunities to all students. Although they both have the same aim – to evaluate students’ applications and show colleges that they have the skills and knowledge required – there are some key differences between them. An important part of your SAT test prep should be determining whether the SAT is the right test for you to study for. Here are some key differences.
Timing and Test Format
The SAT allocates 3 hours plus an extra 50 minutes if you take the optional essay while ACT allocates 2 hours 55 minutes plus an extra 40 minutes if you opt-in for the optional essay.
SAT features an 80 minute math test, 35 minute writing and language test, and a 65 minute reading test while ACT features a 60 minutes math test, 45 minute English test, 35 minute reading test, and 35 minute science test.
Finally, the SAT has a total number of 154 questions to be answered as opposed to the 215 questions to be answered in the ACT. This leaves SAT takers with approximately 1 minute 10 seconds per question and ACT takers with 49 seconds per question.
Each section in the ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36 and you receive a composite score (an average of your scores in the four sections) out of a total of 36. For the SAT, each section is scored on a scale of 200-800 and you receive a composite score out of a total of 1600 (New SAT standard). The optional essay is not included in the composite scores. Here is a conversion table that shows how the ACT and SAT scores are related.
SAT registration cost is $52 without the optional essay and $68 with the essay inclusive. The ACT registration cost is $55 without the optional writing section and $70 with the writing section included. Other fees include late registration fees, change fees, and waitlist fees.
It’s important to note that neither of these tests is necessarily better or worse than the other. Both tests are equally challenging. Because of this, it’s important to choose the one that fits your current needs and your individual strengths. Although it is highly recommended that you take both exams – many students do – that decision is up to YOU.
Best Online SAT Prep Courses
There are a wide variety of SAT prep services available that can match any student’s learning style. Some students thrive in a class environment, while others prefer to work at their own pace. Private SAT tutoring, either online or in person, is often the most effective way to maximize test scores. We’ve hand-picked some of the best online SAT prep courses around so that you can find the approach that works for you.
1. College Board
The College Board, formerly known as College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) is a non-profit organization that has been in existence for more than a century now. Its primary function is to develop and administer standardized tests like the SAT. Founded in 1899 by a group of 12 universities and 3 high school preparation academies, the College Board’s mission has been to connect students to college opportunities, expand access to higher education, and promote excellence and equity in education.
The College Board is made up of more than 6000 colleges, universities, and other educational organizations, and has helped provide direction for higher education to millions of students through readily available resources, tools, and services. Furthermore, the College Board maintains a registry of numbered countries, high schools, colleges, and scholarship programs and can be used for identification by other institutions.
The College Board has the responsibility of constructing and administering the SAT and sends your score reports to colleges. Being the author of the SAT, the College Board does a great job in providing useful tools and first-hand information on the assessment test. They provide tips, tricks, and strategies on how to study for the exam.
The College Board provides a breakdown of the SAT and gives an overview of the various sections of the SAT such as the reading and math sections. They also provide eight full-length practice tests that have the same type of questions you will see on your test day. Interestingly, six of these practice tests have been previously given as actual SAT exams. Lastly, the College Board provides a SAT study guide that contains several practice tips, test-taking strategies, and challenging sample questions.
You can find it here: CollegeBoard
Kaplan is an institution that provides educational resources to schools and test preparation services for more than 90 standardized tests including popular college admission tests like the SAT and ACT. Founded in 1938 by Stanley Kaplan and headquartered in Florida, Kaplan now operates in more than 30 countries, has partnered with over 1000 universities and colleges, delivers online courses in over 100 countries, and has one million plus students across the globe. With a long history of providing educational services to students, for more than 80 years, Kaplan has helped students and individuals achieve their academic goals.
Some of the preparation resources that can be found on the Kaplan websites include a wide variety of courses, private tutoring programs, practice questions, and prep books. The SAT test prep courses have been made flexible for students and contain several options to choose from. The organization’s on-demand course is made available for students with tight schedules and can be taken for just 30 mins per day while their live SAT test prep course is an instructor-led course that can be accessed from the comfort of your home and recorded for later review. The organization also offers online SAT test prep private tutoring and a collection of test prep books.
You can find it here: Kaplan
Price: Starting at $199
PrepScholar is an online SAT prep company that offers SAT test prep courses to students at an affordable rate. The company was started in 2013 by two Harvard Grads who were fed up with expensive tutoring fees and flawed teaching methodologies. With both founders having a perfect score in their SAT, they claimed to have discovered the secret to passing the SAT and have since helped many students pass the test with top scores. PrepScholar takes pride in its tutors as they all have extensive teaching experiences, have all scored in the 99th percentile on the test, and have mastered the course so well that they know exactly how to teach difficult concepts to anyone. This is what distinguishes Prepscholar from its competitors and makes the SAT test prep service stand out as the go-to resource center for expert tutoring and quality SAT preparation content.
By using an algorithm that evaluates your strengths and weaknesses, PrepScholar creates a customized study plan and provides SAT test prep course content just for you. Located in Boston, Massachusetts – home to top-tier colleges and one of the best academic environments – PrepScholar has direct access to exclusive information about the latest developments in the academic world and in turn, develops well-informed, content-rich materials and resources.
Knowing that most students worry about what to study or how to study, PrepScholar provides step-by-step directions on what to learn. This online SAT prep service offers a range of packages from one-on-one programs with SAT experts, to online interactive classes, self-paced courses, and access to realistic practice questions. Additionally, PrepScholar provides weekly progress reports, reminders to study, and feedback on how you are doing.
You can find it here: PrepScholar
Price: Starting at $397
Magoosh is an online educational company that educates and prepares students for competitive exams such as the SAT, mainly through audio/video lessons and practice questions. Magoosh’s mission is to help level the playing field for students who lack access to quality and affordable SAT prep resources and have been systematically disadvantaged. Guided by their mission, Magoosh equips its team with expert teachers and tutors and churns out enjoyable and effective online SAT prep tools and resources at an affordable cost. More than 1.5 million students have taken advantage of this since the company’s inception in 2009.
Magoosh’s online SAT test prep course aims at improving SAT takers’ scores by at least 100 points and its content has been designed to fit different profiles of students. It includes lots of video lessons and a large collection of practice questions for students looking for a hands-on approach. With the simple and easy-to-navigate mobile application, you can study-on-the-go. Magoosh has an excellent support team and are always available throughout the day. That means that with just the click of a button, you get help from tutors and experts on individual courses or practice questions while studying. In fact, the help button has been designed in such a way that the Magoosh support team gets notified of the question or lesson you are on and helps them figure out what problems you are asking about. Finally, Magoosh provides a personalized dashboard that tracks your progress and compares your result with those of other students.
You can find it here: Magoosh
Price: Starting at $129
5. Kranse Institute
Kranse Institute is an online platform that offers digital college prep courses. The company was developed by Shaan Patel – one of seven students in the nation at that time to have scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT and has been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, and USA TODAY. Kranse Institute was created for the sole purpose of preparing all students for higher education and is known for improving students’ scores significantly. As opposed to the traditional method of teaching, Kranse Institute boasts having an efficient strategy-based approach to online SAT test prep and prepares courses with students’ unique needs in mind.
Kranse Institute SAT prep course is a comprehensive self-paced course that features over 140 video lessons, 30 hours of lectures, and over 100 strategies and shortcuts. The video lessons are short (averaging 10 mins) and strategically designed for maximum engagement. After enrolling for the course, you get access to it for up to 18 months, which is significant when compared with other online SAT prep courses. This course includes free printable SAT practice tests, progress tracking, and free lifetime access to the Kranse mobile app. You should use Kranse Institute if you are a video-lover and want to try out a new style and approach to online SAT test prep.
You can find it here: Kranse Institute
Price: Originally $599 ($499 by using their limited-offer discount)
Testive is an online company that offers digital courses for two of the most standardized college Admission exams – SAT and ACT – through the use of adaptive learning technology and human coaches. Unlike other online educational companies, Testive designs a personalized program geared towards getting the best result from each student through detailed processes. Each student gets matched with a top-tier coach who not only guides them through the test prep but also tracks their progress, mentors them, and builds their self-confidence.
Testive has 3 study packages that are designed to be very flexible. All three packages include adaptive learning software, live one-on-one coaching sessions with expert tutors, over 50 hours of instructional videos, and unlimited access to 3000+ practice questions. If you want a perfect balance of coaching, technology, and process, then you should try Testive.
You can find it here: Testive
Price: Starting at $399/month
ePrep is an online platform that offers video-based learning. Their goal is to help students improve their test scores and become college-ready through a proven methodology that has worked for thousands of students. Each ePrep course features engaging videos prepared by expert tutors and covers useful problem-solving methodologies and time-saving strategies.
You can find it here: ePrep
Price: Starting at $129
8. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a non-profit educational resource founded in 2008 by Salman Khan. The site is well-known for its instructional videos, that break down a wide variety of topics, from algebra to entrepreneurship. Khan Academy is the official SAT practicing site, which means the information you’ll learn will be relevant on test day. In fact, students who study for 20 hours on Khan Academy see an average increase in 115 points on their SATs.
You can find it here: Khan Academy
9. The Princeton Review
Founded in 1981, The Princeton Review has a longstanding history of helping students improve their SAT scores. They offer several comprehensive study packages, some of which actually guarantee a high score on test day. In order to be eligible for the test score guarantee, you have to meet certain score requirements. For example, the guaranteed 1400+ score program requires that you already have a 1200+ starting score. The guaranteed 1500+ score, which is recommended for Ivy League schools, requires that you can already hit 1400 or higher. Though these packages can be pricey, they can be a good option for those looking for total immersion in SAT prep.
You can find it here: The Princeton Review
Price: Starting at $699
There are a plethora of tutors on YouTube looking to share their wealth of SAT knowledge with the world. If you’re having trouble with a particular topic, or want to hear study stories from other students, YouTube videos can be a great resource. If you choose to explore this option, keep an eye out for two important factors:
- Be sure to seek out reputable uploaders. Read reviews, check out view counts, and make sure the videos are up to date.
- Avoid the rabbit hole of YouTube suggestions that can easily distract you from your studies. The good news is that the more SAT prep videos you watch, the more your suggestions will be study-related rather than cute cat videos.
You can find it here: YouTube
Other Things to Note About Online SAT Prep
Keep in mind that the SAT isn’t the only thing that colleges are looking at when they consider your application. They’ll also look at your high school GPA, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, admissions essays, and other elements to get a complete picture of who you are as a student. The importance of SAT scores in this equation will vary from school to school.
Online SAT Test Prep Lessons
While videos can be a helpful way to get the basics of a concept down, the best way to raise your SAT score is to work with a private tutor. This is why most online SAT prep services offer private lessons as part of their greater approach to tutoring. Workbooks and pre-arranged lesson plans are great resources for some learning styles but lack the personalized touch that private tutoring provides.
When it comes to finding a tutor, it’s all about connecting with one who fits your own learning style. You can seek out an expert in a given subject, or you can focus on a well-rounded approach to getting a high SAT score. Even if you don’t have any top-notch SAT tutors in your area, online SAT test prep lessons make it easy to connect with the best tutors in the world, all from the comfort of your own home.
Let’s face it – achieving your target SAT score doesn’t happen overnight. By putting in the time and effort to study, you’re making an investment in your future and giving yourself the greatest possible chance of making it into your dream school. If you’re looking to sharpen your SAT skills in the most efficient way possible, search for a private tutor today!