What is the absolute best SAT prep course? The truth is that there’s no one correct answer to this. After all, what works for one student might not necessarily work for another student.
In this article, we introduce five of the best SAT prep courses (both in-person and online) and give you their pros and cons to help you determine which class will be the best fit for you. We also provide you with our top four tips for getting the most out of your SAT prep class.
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Briefly: What Makes a Good SAT Prep Course?
Before we dive into our picks for the best SAT prep courses, let’s take a moment to briefly go over the general qualities that make for a good SAT prep course.
First, you should always be on the lookout for small class sizes (ideally, 10 or fewer students). Smaller SAT classes means you’ll have more one-on-one time with the teacher, allowing you to get clear answers to questions and tailor the class toward your weak spots.
Secondly, a great SAT class will be taught by an expert teacher who got a super-high (or even perfect!) SAT score. PrepScholar Classes, for example, is taught only by those who scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.
Next, the class should offer students high-quality homework assignments and/or extra study materials to use in-between class sessions. This ensures you’ll keep practicing and steadily get better at the different skills and strategies you’ve learned in class.
Finally, the best SAT prep classes will offer students guaranteed results, typically in terms of either point improvements or score thresholds. This kind of claim indicates that the program works well for all types of students, regardless of their weaknesses or experience with the SAT.
Guaranteed results also emphasize the confidence of that program: if you don’t get the promised score, you’ll get most or all of your money back. That’s how sure the class is that its curriculum and instructional methods will work for you.
The 5 Best SAT Prep Courses
Now that we’ve gone over what makes for a good SAT prep course, it’s time to look at our picks for the five best SAT prep classes.
- Price: $895 ($498 for existing PrepScholar students)
- Format: Online
At PrepScholar, we offer a premier, live SAT class that guarantees you’ll improve your score by 160+ points or your money back. All of our live classes are conducted online in virtual classrooms that function the same as traditional in-person classes do: you can raise your hand, ask the teacher questions using your actual voice (not just a chat box), and use an interactive whiteboard to zero in on particular problems or test concepts.
Our curriculum includes a diagnostic test to see what you’re currently scoring, an overview of the best SAT Reading method, an in-depth look at the most helpful SAT Math strategies and problems, and a review of grammar and punctuation on SAT Writing.
PrepScholar's online classes last anywhere from two to five weeks, depending on the schedule you choose; however, you’ll also get access to our Complete Prep program for one full year after sign-up, allowing you to continue studying at your own pace with quality materials and resources.
- All of our teachers are experts at the SAT and scored in the 99th percentile, so you can rest assured that they know what they’re talking about!
- Class sizes are capped at nine students, allowing you to ask questions and get one-on-one support from your teacher. You will never feel overwhelmed or as if you’re drowning in a sea of students.
- The entire curriculum is customized to serve students’ weaknesses, encouraging you to hone the specific skills and concepts you need to focus on. Our prep classes are some of the only ones out there that use a student-driven syllabus.
- Homework is adaptive and tailored to your needs. Assignments are done through the SAT Complete Prep program, which you’ll have access to online for one full year after sign-up. You can study at a pace that’s comfortable for you—ideal for busy high school students.
- You have the option of taking Advanced Classes if you really want to push your score even higher.
- If you don’t improve your SAT score by 160+ points, you’ll get a full refund. That's how much faith we have that our program will work for you!
- PrepScholar Classes is only available online, so if you prefer traditional, in-person classes, you might not love the style of our program. That being said, we’ve worked hard to make the class as comfortable as possible by making it so you can see and speak with your classmates and teacher using audio and video chat.
- You get just nine hours of live classroom time, but this is bolstered by the quantity and quality of homework assignments. Furthermore, you won’t waste any time in classes doing individual practice problems—all of this is done in-between class sessions to ensure you have more time during class to discuss tricky concepts, go over answers, and ask questions.
- Price: From $899 for In-Person, from $1,299 for In-Person PLUS
- Format: In-person with online resources available
Kaplan is an established leader in SAT prep and, as such, offers an impressive array of test-prep courses, the best of which are its two in-person classes: SAT In-Person and SAT In-Person PLUS.
In both courses, you get 18 hours of live instruction, in addition to 30 hours of elective online classes through Kaplan’s SAT Channel. The curriculum includes a diagnostic test; an overview of Kaplan’s best tips and tricks for SAT Reading, Math, and Writing; and an extensive review of critical content areas and skills, such as vocab-in-context, systems of equations, and rhetoric.
The length of the course usually lasts anywhere from 10 days to eight weeks.
- All Kaplan teachers scored above the 90th percentile on the SAT, so you don't need to worry about whether your teacher knows what they’re talking about. Still, it's worth noting that all PrepScholar SAT teachers scored in the 99th percentile, promising total expertise.
- You get access to tons of additional resources, including 30 hours of live online classes, 40 hours of on-demand lessons that you can arrange by difficulty and topic, numerous practice tests and quizzes, and SAT prep books.
- You’re guaranteed to raise your SAT score or your money back. This is a decent promise, but it's not nearly as good as the 160-point improvement we guarantee at PrepScholar.
- The combination of in-person classes and online resources can appeal to many different types of students and learning styles.
- Classes often have way too many students in them—sometimes 50!—making it difficult to ask questions during class and get personal advice from your teacher. Although the PLUS course offers three hours of private coaching, Kaplan still pales in comparison to what you'll get with PrepScholar Classes in terms of one-on-one support and peer interaction.
- The curriculum isn’t tailored to students, so you won't get to pay special attention to the topics you struggle with the most; everyone just studies the same things, regardless of their strengths and weaknesses. It's possible to tailor your prep through Kaplan’s elective classes and online resources, but a class that customizes everything for you, just as our SAT classes at PrepScholar do, will ultimately serve you better.
- Price: $749
- Format: Blended (in-person and online)
Like Kaplan, The Princeton Review is a well-known test-prep company that offers many quality SAT prep materials, including a class called Ultimate Classroom. In this blended prep course, students get 18 hours of live (in-person or online) instruction and unlimited access to the company's LiveOnline SAT classes.
The length of the program varies but typically ranges from 10 days to nine weeks, depending on the schedule you choose and whether you’re taking in-person or online classes.
- The blended nature of this prep course—with its live instruction and unlimited access to SAT Advantage LiveOnline sessions—allows it to appeal to a variety of students and learning styles.
- All students get tailored homework assignments and a customized prep plan.
- The Princeton Review offers an impressive breadth of study resources, from top SAT prep books to hundreds of online drills and on-demand lessons. You will even get some resources to help you prepare for the PSAT and ACT!
- You’re guaranteed to earn a higher score. If you don’t, you’ll get a full refund. And if you’re not 100% satisfied with the SAT class, you can take it again for free. Though this promise isn't bad, it's not nearly as good as our 160-point improvement guarantee at PrepScholar.
- There’s no minimum SAT percentile that instructors must score in to be able to teach the class. This means you’re not guaranteed a teacher who is a proven expert at the SAT. With PrepScholar Classes, you'll always be taught by a test-taking pro.
- Classes often have more than 20 students in them, which isn’t horrible but could make it harder to get individual attention from your teacher and to ask questions. With our own SAT classes, you'll never have more than eight peers.
- Though you get free SAT prep books with this class, it’s important to note that no Princeton Review books made our list of the best SAT prep books for 2019. Often, their SAT review books have practice questions that are too conceptually easy.
- Price: $899
- Format: Online
A slightly newer test-prep company, Prep Expert has worked extra hard to create a stand-out prep course with its fully online 6-Week Flagship SAT class.
In this SAT program, students take two three-hour online classes every week, giving you a total of 36 live classroom hours over the course of six weeks. Students are also required to take a four-hour practice exam once a week.
- As is the case with PrepScholar Classes, all teachers in this program scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT, meaning you'll get top-notch instruction and support.
- You’re guaranteed to raise your test score by at least 200 points on your next SAT or you’ll get your money back. This is one of the biggest score guarantees out there and isn't much higher than what we at PrepScholar guarantee (160+ points).
- You’ll get homework and practice tests to keep your skills sharp and allow teachers to monitor your progress. Unlike what we offer at PrepScholar, though, these assignments aren't tailored to students' individual needs (more on this below).
- The curriculum isn't tailored to students’ needs—everyone is simply learning the same concepts and practicing the same problems. Without a tailored syllabus, you won’t get the opportunity to really home in on your biggest weaknesses.
- You don’t get much in the way of additional resources. Assignments can be helpful, but practice questions alone aren’t likely going to be enough to get you the SAT score you need by test day. And considering the price, no extra resources or online prep means that you’re spending quite a bit of money on a fairly bare-bones course. With PrepScholar, you get one full year of access to our Complete Prep online program.
- Classes can have 40+ students in them, severely restricting your ability to interact directly with the teacher and ask any questions you have. This larger classroom environment differs significantly from the more intimate atmosphere you get with PrepScholar Classes.
- Price: $650
- Format: Online
Founded in 2001, Ivy Bound is a private test-prep and tutoring agency that offers a solid option for an online SAT prep course called SAT Math & Verbal Online.
With this class, students get 25-30 hours of live classroom time conducted through video and audio chat with a teacher and a small group of classmates. Students can expect to raise their SAT scores by an average of 100-200 points on the exam after taking this course.
Class schedules can vary a lot, but most typically run between 11 days and 11 weeks.
- This class is one of the cheapest SAT prep classes out there, so if you're on a budget, this is a great place to consider starting. (Cheaper doesn't always mean better, though!)
- All Ivy Bound SAT course teachers are 99th percentile scorers, so you shouldn’t have any doubt that your instructor is an expert at what they teach.
- Classes are extremely small and intimate—usually just three students—guaranteeing you plenty of one-on-one time with the teacher and the ability to ask as many questions as you need to. There’s also an interactive whiteboard you can use to work through problems together, similar to what we offer at PrepScholar.
- Ivy Bound guarantees that students will see a 100-point increase in their SAT scores. If not, they’ll refund you 50% of the course price. This is a decent compromise, but it's strange that they don't offer a full refund. With PrepScholar, you get a higher score guarantee and a 100% refund if you don't see enough improvement on test day.
- You won’t get homework tailored to your specific needs, so if you’re hoping to focus on one specific skill or content area, know that this likely won’t be happening with this class. (It will happen with PrepScholar Classes, though!)
- Schedule options for this course are somewhat limited compared to those for SAT prep courses at other test-prep companies.
- This prep course doesn’t spend any time going over the SAT Essay, so if you plan to take the SAT with Essay, you’ll need to find ways to prep for this section on your own. In the case of PrepScholar Classes, you get one session dedicated to learning about the Essay, with tips on how to come up with a strong thesis and how to use your time wisely.
How to Make the Most of Your SAT Prep Class: 4 Tips
Once you’ve decided on a prep class, the real test begins! Heed the following four tips to ensure that you get the most out of your SAT course.
#1: Stay Focused and Committed
One of the most important factors that determines whether your SAT class will be worth the price is how committed you are to doing well, both in the class and on the exam.
Remember that SAT courses typically cost a good chunk of money, so even if you're not that into the prep program you signed up for, it’ll still be in your best interest to make a concerted effort to attend every class and keep up with any practice tests and assignments.
If you’re having any trouble attending classes—for example, maybe an emergency came up that requires a lot of your time and attention—then you can discuss with the test-prep company you chose whether you may do make-up classes or shift to a different schedule.
#2: Ask Questions If You Don’t Understand Something
When it comes down to it, the point of an SAT class is to teach you what you need to know to get the score you want, so if you’re having any trouble understanding a specific concept, strategy, or practice problem, it’s up to you to ask questions and receive clarification from the teacher. This is what your teacher is there for after all!
Never feel embarrassed about asking a question, whether it’s in front of the class or in a private online chat with the teacher. The SAT is admittedly a tricky test to master, but you can do it, as long as you aren’t afraid to speak up for yourself and get the answers you need.
#3: Take Advantage of Extra (Online) Resources
The best SAT prep classes will offer you tons of extra resources and materials to aid your SAT prep both between and after the course, so be sure to take advantage of this.
Even if you’re not required to access those online classes or take those practice tests, doing so can really amp up your self-study and ensure you’ve got down the concepts and strategies you need to know to ace the exam.
#4: Keep Practicing After the Course Ends
This tip ties into the previous one in that even after your classes end, you should continue to use any materials—e.g., prep books, practice questions, or online prep programs—you received from the course in your own prep as you get closer to test day.
With PrepScholar Classes, for instance, you get one-year access to our SAT Complete Prep program online, allowing you to continue drilling the concepts and skills you studied from class in your prep.
With other SAT courses, you might get review books, tests, videos, etc. Make sure to use as many of these resources as possible in your studying!
Trying to figure out your SAT class budget? Our comprehensive guide goes over the three steps you'll need to take to calculate how much you can and should spend on an SAT prep class.
What makes for a good SAT class? Read all about the six major qualities to be on the lookout for when choosing a prep course.
Taking the ACT instead of the SAT? Then check out our expert picks for the best ACT classes you can enroll in.
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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.