For ambitious students looking to get into a good college and launch a successful career, SAT prep is a time-honored tradition. For years, increasing numbers of students have been turning to online SAT prep to get themselves ready for test day. In the age of coronavirus, online SAT prep has gone from a convenience to a necessity. But with more and more test prep resources coming online every day, how do you know you’re getting the best online SAT prep for you? Your personal preferences, learning style, financial situation, and more can influence whether online SAT tutoring or online SAT courses are a better fit.
In this article, we’ll take you through all the key factors to consider in order to put yourself in the best possible position come test day.
Form of Instruction: Live vs. Recorded
One of the primary ways to narrow down the field of possibilities is to determine which form of SAT coaching is best for you. The first thing to consider here is your learning style. Everyone’s learning style is different. Some people learn best in a classroom setting. Unfortunately, classroom settings are hard to come by these days. But you can still benefit from live instruction. Many SAT tutors and tutoring companies offer live online SAT prep sessions, either in a 1-1 setting, small groups, or larger class-like settings. Kaplan, Princeton Review, and many others offer live online classes.
This is generally agreed to be one of the best forms of learning, as live online SAT tutors can offer personalized instruction and a customized learning plan. In addition to checking references and client recommendations, you’ll want to be sure to check the credentials of your tutor. You should look for someone with significant experience teaching the SAT as well as a high score on an official test. You can also ask questions of tutors before you meet with them to determine what kinds of resources they work with and whether their communication style fits your learning style.
Another form of online SAT prep is recorded instruction. Nowadays, there is a plethora of recorded video lessons covering every type of SAT problem. Magoosh and Kahn Academy are two very well-known and highly regarded options. But the list of online SAT prep apps, websites, and companies continues to expand every day. One of the benefits of recorded instruction is accessibility—you can access it whenever you want, and if you’re having trouble understanding a concept, you can always come back to it. Further, many resources are highly affordable and make great use of video technology to help illustrate problems and concepts. The disadvantage of recorded instruction is that you can’t ask the teacher to explain something in a different way if their original explanation doesn’t make to you. All you can do is go looking for another resource, which can be frustrating if you’ve given time and money for the original lesson.
Whatever form of online SAT prep you choose, you’ll want to be sure you can customize your learning plan. Most private tutors will do this, but you’ll want to make sure up front. Some simply work from the practice tests, without tailoring their approach to meet the clients at their weak spots. One of the benefits of working with recorded instruction from a variety of sources is you can customize your own learning plan. Though this puts the responsibility more on your shoulders to determine what your needs are.
Another thing to consider as you try to choose the best online SAT prep is the form of practice problems your instruction comes with. Some education companies—like those that publish the most popular SAT prep books—use their own proprietary practice problems. We think it’s more helpful to work with problems from the most recent version Official SAT Guide. This book is published by the College Board, the same company that writes and administers the SAT. This ensures that their questions are as representative of actual SAT test questions as possible.
SAT Prep Rates
Of course, one of the most influential factors in most people’s choice of online SAT prep is cost. Costs can vary enormously depending on the type of instruction you choose. There is a great deal of free recorded material on the internet to help you prepare for the SAT. Khan Academy is by far the best example. Their videos and practice problems are developed in partnership with the College Board, so it’s essentially free official prep. Every should use this online SAT resource along with whatever other resources they identify.
Other online SAT prep platforms may offer you access to an entire database of instruction for a monthly subscription or a one-time access fee.
Live instruction is typically more expensive, though there are affordable options. Some live tutors charge as little as $15 an hour. At the other end of the spectrum, some boutique tutors charge several hundred or even $1,000 an hour. You usually get what you pay for with the cheapest option, and it’s true that as you pay more you typically get to work with more experienced and skilled tutors. But you start to see diminishing returns in tutor quality once you go above $100 or $150 an hour.
Every student is different, and the best online SAT prep regimen for one may not be the best for another. However, most students, working within most budgets, will find that the best strategy involves a mixture of live instruction with a private tutor as well as free recorded instruction material. This offers the best of both worlds. You can use your time with the private tutor to identify your weakest areas and work on strengthening them. You can use free recorded material to brush up on areas where you might only need a little practice. For the recorded instruction, many free options are available, like Khan Academy. For the private instruction, consider our online SAT prep options. We offer top-quality online SAT tutoring from expert tutors.