You may use apps to take photos of your food and put dog filters on your face, but did you know you can also use apps to prepare for the SAT? It's true! There are a number of apps that are designed to increase your familiarity with the SAT and get you closer to reaching your goal score.
In this article, I'll let you know how you can use apps in your SAT preparation, and I'll name five of the best free SAT prep apps.
SAT Apps: An Overview
As mobile apps have become more popular, the College Board, SAT prep companies, educational app companies, and individuals have created their own apps to help students prepare for the SAT. Those who have created the apps are trying to capitalize on the popularity of mobile apps, and they want to make SAT prep material more accessible for students.
If you have an SAT prep app on your phone or tablet, you can conveniently do some SAT studying wherever you’re at, whether you’re at home, school, or a boring family function. Also, studying on an app is more enjoyable and interactive for some students than using a traditional SAT prep book.
Most SAT prep apps are free, but there are some that cost money to purchase.
Why SAT Prep Apps Are Not Enough
SAT apps can be a good study tool, but you probably won’t be able to solely rely on them to reach your target score. You should check out our articles on how to get a perfect score on the SAT and the best ways to study for the SAT.
Most of the apps don't have adequate practice questions. There are either too few of them, or they're not representative of the questions you'll get on the SAT. You may need more real SAT questions or realistic practice questions to sufficiently drill your knowledge and improve your content weaknesses.
Additionally, the majority aren’t customized to your skill level. To improve your SAT score, you need to focus your time on improving your weaknesses. You may need to get better with your time management on the Reading section. Or you may need help with linear equations.
Generally, these apps aren’t effective at determining where you’re weak, and they’re not designed to help you focus on the areas in which your skills need to improve.
Sorry kid, you're gonna need more than an app to get a 1600.
What Makes a Good SAT App?
There are specific qualities you should look for in an SAT practice app.
#1: Tons of Realistic Practice Questions
The best SAT apps will offer hundreds of practice questions for you to hone your skills. The questions should be presented in the same format as the questions that appear on the SAT, and they should be roughly as difficult as the questions on the official SAT practice tests. Each question should provide a thorough explanation, so you’re able to understand how to correctly answer all of the practice questions.
#2: Good User Experience
The app should be easy to navigate and use. On some of the apps, the text is hard to read, or the setup of the app makes it difficult to identify the functions and navigate between them.
#3: Thorough Content Instruction
A good SAT prep app should clearly teach you the content you need to know to excel on the SAT. After reading a lesson or answer explanation, you shouldn’t have any lingering confusion about the topic.
A quality app will break down the topic and thoroughly explain it. You should be able to start with limited knowledge of the topic, but then understand it well enough to correctly answer related SAT questions after using the app.
A bad app will provide more brief instruction and you'll continue to be uncomfortable with a content area you were unsure about. If you have unanswered questions about the topic, you'll need more content instruction.
Apps aren't always the best teachers.
#4: Questions and Lessons Are Divided by Specific Topics
A good app will divide practice questions and content instruction by more specific topics than just Reading, Writing, and Math. If you know the topics on which you need extra help, you should know exactly where to go. If you need more help with comma rules, you should be able to easily find instruction or practice questions to help you with your knowledge of comma rules.
The 5 Best SAT Apps
If you want to use SAT practice apps in your studying, here are five that can provide some benefit to you. All are free of charge.
Daily Practice for the New SAT
This is the College Board’s official SAT prep app. Everyday, the app offers a new practice question, and the question can cover any SAT topic in any of the sections.
Also, previous questions of the day are archived. Obviously, over time, the list of archived questions will grow, but currently there are only 10-20 questions for each section (Reading, Math, and Writing). The archived questions are divided by section, and you can sort them by difficulty level and when they were posted.
The app also has a function in which you can scan an official practice test and get your test corrected. Unfortunately, many students have complained that the scanning function didn’t work for them.
This app is good because it offers official College Board-approved questions and explanations. However, it doesn’t offer thorough content instruction and the number of questions is limited. Also, the question of the day may not be helpful for you if it’s on a topic you already know.
This app provides 60 lessons, 1,000 virtual flashcards that give thorough explanations to example questions, and 1,000 practice questions for you to attempt yourself.
Initially, you take a diagnostic test of 10 questions, and the app will customize a course of instruction for you. Because there aren’t many questions on the diagnostic, the app may not accurately determine your current skill level.
This app is definitely one of the best SAT prep apps. It offers content instruction, you can take a mock SAT with up to 100 questions, it offers many good realistic practice questions, and the explanations to the questions are complete.
It’s still not perfect, though. The content instruction it provides is pretty brief, so it may not be enough if you’re struggling with a topic.
Also, I don’t think the user experience is ideal. For the reading and writing questions, the passages and questions are on different screens, and it was a little difficult for me to find the underlined portion of the passage for the writing questions.
The Khan Academy SAT prep app just offers a portion of the Khan Academy SAT prep website. On the app, you can get video instruction in which Khan walks you through a number of practice problems related to specific SAT topics. I enjoy these videos, and I believe watching them is a good way to improve your content knowledge and ability to tackle SAT questions. Unfortunately, though, the app doesn't offer practice questions for you to do.
You might as well just use the website, so you can have access to the practice questions and everything the Khan Academy prep program has to offer.
SAT UP- New SAT Test Prep
This app starts with a diagnostic test, and you can enter your target score and test date. It’s one of the few prep apps that customizes a program based on your responses.
The primary benefits of this app are the customized program, and it has many practice questions.
Unfortunately, there are some significant drawbacks with this app. You have to go through all the diagnostic tests before you can do the content instruction. Also, the practice questions don’t really have any explanations. Instead, the app advertises tutoring for $50/hr.
Additionally, the user experience isn’t ideal, but if you’re just looking to do some more practice questions, you can use this app as an extra resource.
SAT Test Prep Practice Q&A
This app has 300 practice questions, but if you pay $1.00, you get 471 total questions, a mock SAT, and access to so-called “SAT Genius experts.”
Positively, this app has many realistic practice questions and perhaps the best user experience.
Negatively, the explanations to the questions aren’t great, and there’s no real content or strategy instruction.
How to Use SAT Apps in Your Studying
As I previously mentioned, SAT apps can be a good resource, but you shouldn’t solely rely on them in your SAT prep.
Here’s how you can use SAT apps.
#1: For Additional Practice Questions
In your SAT studying, start with these free official College Board practice tests. The questions on these tests most closely resemble SAT questions, and the College Board provides explanations to each question.
Use SAT apps as a supplementary resource. You'll be able to do a ton of additional practice questions to continue to drill and test your knowledge.
I’d start with the College Board app first, though, since it offers College Board-approved questions.
#2: To Improve Your Weaknesses
If you know the types of questions on which you struggle, you can use apps to do more questions related to those topics or get more content instruction. For content instruction, Khan Academy is pretty good. I’d also use the apps that divide questions by specific topics, and you should focus on the topics with which you need the most help.
#3: To Change Up Your Study Routine
If you’re always using the same book or website to study, you can use an SAT app to alter your normal routine. Changing your regular routine can energize you and give you additional motivation to study.
Just make sure you’re using the apps in a way that will be most beneficial to you, or you'll be wasting your time. Don’t just do “heart of algebra” questions if you’re already getting all of those questions right.
#4: To Do Mock Tests
A few of the SAT apps offer timed mock tests. You can use these apps to simulate the test-taking experience. However, unlike the actual SAT, you'll be by yourself, and you'll be doing the test on an app, so it won't be an exact simulation.
But you can build your test endurance and check to see how you’re doing with time management under pressure.
Also, you can use these tests as diagnostics to help determine the types of questions on which you’re still struggling.
Best SAT Apps: Takeaways and Recommendations
SAT apps can help you in your SAT preparation, if you use them in conjunction with other resources.
The SAT practice apps work best once you already have a solid foundation. You should be familiar with all the content on the SAT, and you should be aware of your current weaknesses. Furthermore, keep in mind that you’ll have to learn test-taking strategies elsewhere.
If you want want a free resource to learn SAT content and strategies that will help you on the exam, check out the articles on this blog!
If you can pay for a resource, the PrepScholar online program is customized to improve your weaknesses, it teaches extremely helpful strategies, and it provides tons of practice questions.
Are you struggling to find time for your SAT prep? Find out how to balance your SAT studying with school.
Do you want some more fun ways to prepare for the SAT? Learn about 6 SAT prep games.
Finally, find out the secret to getting a perfect SAT score.
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Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.