If you are still in high school, especially in the junior year, the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is most likely on your mind. The SAT tests the most basic skills in reading, math and writing that are required for college level education.
Although there are more test-optional schools than before, the SAT is hardly going away anytime soon. According to Zach Goldberg, spokesperson for the College Board, which owns and makes the SAT, more than 85 percent of college applications are still sent to schools requiring either SAT or ACT scores.
So, if we’ve got to take the test, let’s do it with a strategy. Whatever your studying type or financial situation may be, you’ll find a SAT prep course just right for you.
Check out our handpicked list of SAT prep courses and find your best fit!
Our measurements of SAT prep courses
Before diving into the actual list, take a look at how we measured these SAT prep courses.
- Practice tests: With everything in life, the simple truth is that practice makes perfect. Same goes for the SAT. The more you practice, the higher your score will be. So, the number of practice tests the prep course provides is important. However, knowing how to take the test is as important as knowing what’s going to be on the test. The depth of contents that follow and support each practice test, such as in-depth answer explanations or company blog articles on strategies and tips, matter as well.
- Customization: Yes, practice makes perfect. But, blind repetition is plain laziness. For each of the three sections in the SAT — reading, writing and math — every student starts out at different levels. Rather than offering the same study plan for all students, a good prep course should be customizable to focus on strengthening each student’s weak areas. Also, a diverse set of prep options allows students to find one that fits their own study type.
- Variety of content: Besides practice tests, there are many ways to prepare for the test. A good prep course offers a variety of study tools, such as flashcards, games, live classrooms, quizzes, or 24/7 online study tutor.
- Time flexibility: High school students are busy. A good prep course should take this into account and make its content constantly available for students to create their own study schedules. Programs with mobile apps would also be very useful for busy students.
- Price: However great the course may be, if it doesn’t fit your budget, it’s probably out. Although many prep courses can be more pricey, there are a lot of affordable, and even free, courses that are still awesome in quality.
Our choices of SAT prep courses
Now, here’s our handpicked list of the best SAT prep courses, varying in their strong and weak points. They are NOT listed by price range.
1. Khan Academy
Partnering with the College Board, Khan Academy provides an official SAT prep course that comes with questions, tips and strategies, and other various contents from the very makers of the SAT.
- Practice tests: There are 8 full-length practice tests that come with answer explanations. Along with practice tests, thousands of practice questions for each section are available.
- Customization: Khan Academy’s prep course is highly customizable. After a short diagnostic quiz, Khan Academy builds a customized study plan with recommended areas to review. You can even link your past SAT scores to your account to get a more accurate study plan. Also, when you take one of the Khan Academy practice tests, you can snap a photo using the College Board’s app, called Daily Practice for the New SAT, and your scores will be uploaded to your Khan Academy dashboard. There, you will get recommendations on new areas to practice.
- Variety of content: Khan Academy provides a variety of study tools, such as interactive quizzes, video lessons, and reference articles on topics like studying strategies and time management. Also, the course offers videos of Sal Khan, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, working through problems and explaining his approach to difficult questions. Still, Khan Academy lacks contents like live chat with actual teachers.
- Time flexibility: All of Khan Academy’s contents are highly flexible with time because they are all online. So, you can use them whenever and wherever you want. You can also download the Khan Academy app for free to access all of its PC contents on your phone. However, if you are more of an in-person study type or can’t keep up with a study plan by yourself, you may have to find a different course to motivate yourself more directly.
- Price: FREE
With its very simple website, CrackSAT.net is literally an online directory of SAT practice tests. However, there’s nothing much more than that. No video contents, custom-built study plans, or answer explanations.
- Practice tests: There are a lot. Really, a lot. You can take both new and old SAT practice tests either online or in print. You can also take smaller sets of problems from all three sections, reading, math and writing. For example, if you need to improve in paired passages from the reading section, you can click on “SAT Reading” and choose from a list of paired passages.
- Customization: CrackSAT.net does not give a custom-built study plan or recommendations for each student. It doesn’t even have a membership system.
- Variety of content: CrackSAT.net keeps its content very simple and direct. Definitely not colorful. Practice tests, SAT subject tests, and college essay samples and tips. And that’s it.
- Time flexibility: Since you can find all of its contents online, CrackSAT.net is highly flexible with time. However, just like Khan Academy, this prep course may be too online for those who work better with an in-person tutor or a set study schedule. CrackSAT.net does not have a mobile app.
- Price: FREE
With highly customized study plans and affordable prices, Magoosh is a good option for students who are low on budget, but want more than just practice tests and video lessons.
- Practice tests: You will get up to 3 practice tests and over 1,500 practice questions. Each practice question comes with a thorough explanation video that covers concepts and shortcuts.
- Customization: There are 3 plans with the same content and features, but with different duration of 1, 3 or 12 months. Every option includes unlimited access to all online study materials and assistance, such as customized study schedules and weekly progress reports from expert tutors. You will also get access to a dashboard that suggests video lessons to watch, tracks your progress and compares your results with those of other students. You can also customize practice sessions by choosing your subjects and difficulty level and turning on the optional timed quiz mode to practice time management.
- Variety of content: Besides practice tests and questions, you can have access to flashcards, over 200 video lessons, personal assistance from expert tutors, detailed performance analysis, and weekly progress reports for parents.
- Time flexibility: Since Magoosh provides all of its contents online, its courses are highly flexible with time. They also provide two different mobile apps, one for video lessons and practice questions and another for flashcards with English and math concepts. However, if you are more of an in-person study type or can’t keep up with a study plan by yourself, you may have to find a different course to motivate yourself more directly.
- Price: Starting as low as $39.50 and going up to $49.50, Magoosh offers very affordable prep courses with a wide variety of content. You can also sign up for a 7-day trial for free and choose to pay later.
With teachers who scored in the 99th percentile or higher on the SAT, PrepScholar offers a wide variety of course options with high customization and expert-taught lessons.
- Practice tests: You will get up to 6 full-length practice tests and over 7,100 practice questions with detailed answer explanations for every question.
- Customization: You can choose out of 5 different prep options.
- The most basic and popular option — the Complete SAT Online Prep — includes unlimited access to all online study materials and assistance, such as a personalized study plan, customized feedback, and weekly reports that tracks your progress.
- The PrepScholar Classes option includes everything in the previous option plus online, expert-led class experience.
- The Complete + Tutoring includes everything in the Complete SAT Online Prep option plus hours of one-on-one tutoring session.
- The Complete Premium gives you access to everything in the Complete SAT Online Prep but for three years.
- Lastly, the Dual SAT + ACT includes prep tools for both the SAT and ACT.
All 5 options last at least a year. Also, your program is continuously updated to adapt to your current difficulty level. Then, your updated program will pick and send out weekly assignments based on subjects or concepts that need more improvement.
- Variety of content: Besides practice tests and questions, you have access to over 210 hours of content, over 700 problem-solving videos, 98 skill lessons with strategy videos, and live online classrooms and in-person tutors. Also, you and your parents will receive weekly email reports from real PrepScholar teachers discussing how you are improving and motivating you to reach your set goals.
- Time flexibility: Out of 5 different prep options, the Complete SAT Online Prep is the most flexible with time. Although you need to adjust your time to fixed schedule a little bit more, the PrepScholar Classes option also offers all materials online plus online classes taught by experts. You can receive all the benefits of an expert-led SAT class without having to step out of your own room.
- Price: Starting as low as $397 and going as high as $995, PrepScholar prep courses are worth it, but may be a bit pricey for some students.
5. The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review offers a wide variety of study tools and course options to fit every student’s different situation and study styles.
- Practice tests: The number of practice tests varies by course options, from as low as 15 to as high as 24 full-length practice tests. Besides full-length practice tests, thousands of practice questions, hundreds of video contents, and 24/7 support from online tutors are available. So, basically, you’ll never run out of practice questions or resources explaining them.
- Customization: The Princeton Review offers 4 different options.
- The Self-Paced option, which lasts a year, offers a comprehensive SAT study plan for busy, self-studiers whose schedules are different all the time.
- Lasting a year as well, the Ultimate Classroom option offers everything in the Self-Paced option plus 18 hours of class time from an SAT expert and three proctored practice tests.
- The SAT 1400+ option, which also lasts a year, includes everything in the Self-Paced option plus class time with 1 expert tutor and 4 proctored practice tests.
- Lastly, the Private Tutoring option offers everything in Self-Paced option plus one-on-one session with expert tutors.
Also, with every course option, you get personalized lesson plans based on your practice tests and drills to avoid wasting time on things that you already know and to focus on things that you keep getting wrong.
- Variety of content: The Princeton Review offers a wide variety of different content, from over 280 online video lessons to 377 online drills to multiple hours of chat time with experts. You and your parents can track progress and set study goals to avoid any cramming or panic attacks the night before the test date. Also, with every course option, students can use a set of 500 flashcards with English and math concepts. The flashcards are available in print and online.
- Time flexibility: Out of 4 different course options, the Self-Paced option allows the most flexibility with time. Students can access on-demand lessons online whenever they want.
- Price: Varying by course options, the price can be as low as $274 or as high as $2,300.
With expert teachers who scored at 90 percent or above on the SAT, Kaplan provides customizable and expert-led course options.
- Practice tests: All course options include at least 8 full-length practice tests online and Kaplan’s Big Book of SAT practice tests. Besides practice tests, thousands of practice questions and both recorded and live lessons online are available to help you know not only what’s on the test, but also how to tackle them.
- Customization: There are 8 different course options.
- The Self-Paced option lasts for 6 months and includes unlimited access to all online study materials and assistance, such as a personalized study plan, expert instruction and QBank, which builds personalized quizzes.
- With varying duration by schedules, the Live Online includes everything in the Self-Paced option plus 18 hours of live online instruction and 30 hours of live instruction on The SAT Channel, which is Kaplan’s own channel for online, expert-led sessions.
- The In-Person option gives everything the Live Online option gives, but in person.
- The Tutoring option gives you access to all online materials with one-on-one assistance from an expert tutor.
- Lasting through December of the senior year, the Unlimited Prep option gives you all online study tools, such as Kaplan classes, The SAT and ACT Channels, Proctored practice tests and QBank for all three tests, the SAT, ACT and PSAT.
- The Math Foundations option focuses on improving your math score for all three tests.
- The Rapid Review Live option gives you last-minute review for Math, Verbal or both sections in the SAT.
- Lastly, the Qbank option gives you access to Qbank only. All of Kaplan’s prep courses are highly customizable.
All options provide online resources as well as customized study plans based on your practice tests. You also receive progress reports to help track your performance.
- Variety of content: Besides practice tests and practice questions, updated online quizzes and Qbank, a set of 600 flashcards, up to 40 hours of video lessons, 24/7 access to live instructions, and hours of private coaching are available for students.
- Time flexibility: Out of many course options, the Self-Paced option is the most flexible in time. The option gives you access to not only the online practice questions and online QBank, but also 40 hours of self-scheduled video lessons on terms and topics tested in the SAT.
- Price: Varying by course option, the price can be as low as $30 or as high as $4,599. The Self-Paced option starts at $299.
Your SAT score is important because it helps you make the very first cut in the college admission process. Although there is much more about you than just a test score, the test is still important enough to spend enough time preparing for it. However, it should definitely not take a lifetime. So, be smart and strategic when preparing for the exam. But, before spending thousands of dollars on a prep course, try out free ones first. If you are a self-studier, then perfect. Stick with the free resources online. If you need that extra push, consider a prep course with online classrooms or tutors.
Hyeyeun Jeon is from South Korea and a graduate from Carnegie Mellon University with a double major in Professional Writing and International Relations. She is passionate about non-fiction storytelling. She loves reading, watching, writing and producing stories about extraordinary lives of everyday people.