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Exploring SAT Tutoring Rates: Is SAT Help from a Private Tutor Worth It?

sat tutorSince we are an SAT tutoring company, you might expect us to argue that hiring an SAT coach is almost always worth it. But we don’t believe that to be true.

If a private SAT teacher can help you improve your SAT score from a 1,200 to a 1,450, that’s a huge increase and likely opens new doors for you. It could mean that you are in the running for a lucrative SAT-based scholarship. However, this type of analysis is only valid if you couldn’t have improved your score that amount without hiring an SAT coach.

In this article, we’ll explore SAT tutoring rates relative to other SAT prep options.

So, what are average SAT tutoring rates?

Sites like Wyzant or Craig’s List enable you to find SAT tutors for $25 per hour. You might even be able to hire a local high school student to help your child prepare for the SAT for even less per hour. On the other hand, a quick Google search reveals Princeton Review and Kaplan charging north of $200 per hour for SAT tutoring. There is one very popular virtual SAT tutor who charges $400+ per hour for private SAT help.

Now, if you know in advance, for sure, that you are getting SAT help from one of the best SAT tutors in the country, you might be willing to pay $400 per hour. But how can you know that in advance? And what if that particular individual isn’t a great fit for you or your child? We don’t recommend strongly considering such expensive SAT tutoring options. 

So what is an average SAT tutoring rate? What is a reasonable rate to consider paying? If you live in New York or California, assuming a non-COVID environment where location matters, spending $150 per hour might not be that far above average. In much of the country, however, spending $75 to $100 per hour can probably be considered average SAT tutor pricing.

How much are you likely to spend in total on SAT tutoring?

Let’s assume you are spending $100 per hour on a private SAT instructor. A typical course of online SAT tutoring might be 10 weeks. Each week, you may spend 1.5 hours in an SAT coaching session. 1.5 x 10 = 15 hours, and at $100 per hour, that’s an investment of $1,500 on a remote SAT tutor. 

Is SAT tutoring worth it?

So if you are going to work with a private SAT tutor, you may easily be about to invest $1,500 or more. In what scenarios is SAT tutoring going to be worth it? Do you have to find one of the best SAT tutors around to make it worth it? With all of the free SAT prep materials available online from the College Board and Kahn Academy, how could spending thousands on SAT tutoring be worth it?

Let’s explore what an SAT coach brings to the table when working with a student preparing for the SAT. 

There are a lot of different SAT prep materials out there. We recommend using official materials for the college board as a foundation. But an SAT tutor may recommend additional materials for your specific situation. An SAT coach will then review your situation, including your target score, test date, strengths, and weaknesses, and help you build a customized SAT study plan. In doing this, structure and accountability is brought to the SAT prep process. Many high school students don’t have the discipline to study for the SAT in a consistent and sustained way alongside their normal schoolwork. But if they know they have a session with an SAT tutor coming up in a few days, and they have to face that individual, they will be motivated to do their assigned homework.

SAT prep can be draining. And on test day, confidence can be the difference between an average and an above average score. Time management is important on the SAT, and the confident test taker is more likely to efficiently move through the questions. The best SAT tutors provide motivation and boost the confidence of their students.

The most common expectation of SAT tutors is to provide customized explanations and concept reviews, as well as multiple test-taking strategies for various types of SAT problems. You should also expect clear explanations for why you missed any given problem, which his something that can be hard to come by when you are self-studying or taking an SAT prep class.

Of course, the more selective the college or university you are applying to, the higher the SAT score you are going to need. In this sense, an SAT tutor becomes a more reasonable option as the selectivity of your target schools increases.

Finally, although many colleges and universities are increasingly going test optional, merit-based scholarships often required or are even based on SAT or ACT prep scores. So another scenario in which an SAT tutor is worth it would be if you think a higher score might put you in the running for a scholarship. Do your research here. Hundreds of schools actually have scholarships that kick in automatically for students with a GPA and SAT score above a certain level.

Is an SAT tutor better than an SAT prep class?

The problem with choosing an in-person or online course as your online SAT prep option is that the average SAT course is designed around the average student. Although this is a generalization,  on some level most “one-size-fits-all” SAT prep options are designed around the average student. But what if you are really struggling to keep up in your SAT prep class? Or, what if the course is extremely easy for you, but you know you are striving for a 99th percentile SAT score and need strategies for tackling the most difficult SAT problems? In either of these cases, an SAT prep option designed to help someone “in the middle of the curve” is not going to be the best option for you. SAT tutors are good options for either of these situations.

A private SAT instructor can also be a good option if you don’t have a lot of time. Hiring an SAT tutor is probably the most efficient way to boost your SAT score quickly. 


Is hiring an SAT tutor worth it? The answer is, truly, that it depends on your situation. The larger the increase in score that you need, the less time you have to prepare, and the more selective the colleges you are targeting are, the more likely it is that an SAT coach is a good investment.