by Kristen Scatton
Updated: February 26, 2020
At a glance: The Best SAT Prep Courses and Classes
|Rank||Course||Score||Price||In-Person||Live Online||Self-Paced Online||Mobile App||Guarantee||Free Trial||Practice Exams||Essay Review||Progress tracker||User Support|
|2||Princeton Review||7.5||$299-$2299||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||44132||Yes||Yes||-Live Chat
|3||Kaplan||7.4||$149-$1299||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||8||Yes||No||-Support Ticket System
-FAQ Help Center
-Support Ticket System
|7||Higher Scores Test Prep||5.7||$187-$647||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||43832||Yes||Yes||
-Q&A Video Replies
|10||College Prep Genius||5.3||$139-$189||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||0||Yes||Yes||-Support Ticket System
Why the SAT Matters
For high school students planning to attend college, taking the SAT is a common step in the preparation process.
The SAT (which, interestingly enough, was originally an acronym for “Scholastic Aptitude Test,” but now doesn’t stand for anything) is a standardized test administered by the College Board, and is used by colleges and universities to assess students’ preparedness for post-secondary education. It is a timed, paper-based test that is offered multiple times per year throughout the U.S.
There are two required sections of the SAT, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math, as well as an optional Essay section. The Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections are each scored separately on a scale of 200 to 800, meaning the total possible score for both is 1600. Students who choose to complete the Essay section will receive a separate score for that section.
Although in recent years a significant number of colleges and universities have stopped requiring SAT scores as part of their admissions processes, the majority of colleges still use them in determining acceptance, scholarships, and class placement. Therefore, it’s crucial for students taking the SAT to do as well as possible.
In theory, the SAT tests knowledge and skills that students have already acquired in high school, as well as the aptitudes they will need to succeed in college. Regular schoolwork, including lectures, homework, writing assignments, quizzes and tests, should prepare students for the types of questions they will see on the SAT.
However, because the SAT is different than typical schoolwork or exams, targeted SAT prep may be beneficial to some students. In addition to reviewing math, reading, and writing skills that will appear on the test, SAT prep also teaches strategies to help students solve problems, maximize their time, and stay focused. Students may use SAT prep courses to feel more confident in approaching the test, or to improve their score to meet thresholds for scholarships or admissions to certain schools.
In 2016, the College Board made some revisions to the format and content of the SAT. While these changes won’t affect students who didn’t take the SAT prior to 2016, it is important to note when researching SAT prep courses. You or your child will want to enroll in a prep program that has been updated to teach to the new SAT format.
If you or your child are considering an SAT prep course, you have many options to choose from, which is why we reviewed and ranked the top SAT prep programs currently available. Read on for more information about the best SAT prep programs.
How we Chose the Best SAT Test Prep Programs
We started our review by searching for SAT prep courses available in the U.S. This search gave us a list of 13 widely recognized SAT prep companies, including:
- College Prep Genius
- Higher Scores Test Prep
- Ivy Bound
- Khan Academy
- Manhattan Review
- Princeton Review
- Revolution Prep
We first evaluated the programs based on two simple criteria: availability and comprehensiveness. We only wanted courses that are available to a wide audience, through online delivery (live or self-paced) as well as in-person classes. We also sought programs that cover all sections of the SAT, instead of just focusing on one particular area of the test.
At this point, we eliminated two programs from our list:
Testive – This company only offers one-on-one tutoring. While private tutoring is a popular option for SAT prep, the purpose of this review is to evaluate prep courses offered in a real or virtual classroom setting.
Udemy – Udemy’s products only focus on individual sections of the SAT, and many have not been updated recently, raising concerns about their effectiveness.
We then set out to do a thorough review of the 11 remaining courses based on a set of detailed criteria, including:
|Courses offered||Are multiple course options available, either in different delivery formats or program lengths? Companies with multiple course options received higher scores.|
|Topics covered||Does the course cover all sections of the SAT? Only courses that teach to all sections of the exam received scores in this category.|
|Guarantees offered||Are there any money-back guarantees, either based on customer satisfaction, or test score increases? Companies that offer guarantees received higher scores.|
|Free trial availability||Are students able to try the course, either through a free trial or money-back guarantee?|
|Price/Value||What is the overall cost of the course, and what is the cost of the program per week or month? What do students receive for their money? We gave program’s a value score based on the cost of the program and what they offer students.|
|Delivery format optionality||Do students attend classes in person or online, or is it a self-paced program? The more ways a course is delivered, the higher the score they received.|
|Flexibility||How flexible are the courses, in terms of delivery format, pacing, and type of access? Programs that are more flexible received higher scores.|
|Length of program||How long is the course, and how long do students have access to course features and study materials? Longer access resulted in a higher score.|
|Accessibility||How do students access their course materials? Are mobile apps available, or are websites optimized for mobile access? Courses that are more accessible received higher scores.|
|Faculty||Who are the faculty developing and teaching these courses, and what are their qualifications? Most programs use teaching experience and SAT scores as qualifiers for faculty. Programs with more experienced, accomplished faculty received higher scores.|
|Number of practice exams||How many practice exams does the course offer, and how are they administered? Practice exams are a key part of SAT prep. The more practice exams offered, the higher the score received.|
|Course materials/features||What course materials and features are included with the course? This includes books (print or online), flashcards, video lessons, essay reviews, score predictors, and more. The more robust the program’s features, the higher the score they received.|
|Progress tracker availability||Does the course give students and parents a way to track students’ progress towards their SAT goals? If a progress tracker is included in the course package, it received a higher score.|
|Essay Prep||Although the Writing portion of the SAT is optional, we gave higher scores to programs that offer essay reviews or other forms of preparation for this part of the test.|
|Add-ons||Are there any additional components, like private tutoring or subscription extensions, that students can add on to their course package? Courses received higher scores if they offered add-ons.|
|Interface||What is the program’s interface like? Is it engaging and easy to navigate? Does the quality of the program’s website, videos, lessons, and other online materials accurately reflect the quality of the program? Programs that had well-designed interfaces received higher scores.|
|User support||What kind of support do programs offer students and parents, both for studying purposes and for general customer service? Programs received higher scores for more flexible support options, and better customer service.|
We used these criteria because they are the most standard and critical features of SAT prep. Students and parents most often cite these components as their reasons for choosing and being satisfied with their programs. We conducted extensive online research to review these components of the test prep courses, including exploring courses through free trials, and reading user reviews and testimonials.
At this point, we eliminated another program:
Revolution Prep – There was not enough information available about how the course was delivered, and what materials were included in the package to fully evaluate this course.
We rated the remaining 10 courses by scoring each element on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the best, and 0 being the poorest. We then used these individual scores to calculate an overall score for each course, and ranked the 10 programs based on these outcomes.
The Top 10 SAT Prep Courses
- Complete SAT Online Prep
- PrepScholar Classes
- Complete SAT Online Prep + Tutoring
- Diagnostic test
- Text and video lessons
- Practice quizzes
- Practice questions
- Official SAT Study Guide
- Adaptive learning technology
- Study plans
- Lessons cover math, reading, writing and strategies
When it comes to flexibility, affordability, and guarantees in SAT prep, PrepScholar is tough to beat. Their base plan, Complete SAT Online Prep, gives students a full year of access to a customizable study plan featuring practice tests, thousands of practice questions, and videos covering essential skills and SAT strategies. Their well-designed interface is easy to navigate, with videos that present information in a clear and engaging way. Parents and students have the option to add private online tutoring or online classes for more in-depth guidance and preparation. It all comes with a guarantee that you or your student’s SAT score will increase by 160 points or more, the best guarantee among all the programs we reviewed.
- SAT Self-Paced
- SAT 1400+
- SAT 1500+
- SAT Cram Course
- Online video lessons
- Online drills
- Practice lessons
- Single-section practice tests
- Personalized lesson plans
- Score reports
- ACT & PSAT prep
- SAT prep books (Ultimate, 1400+, and 1500+ programs only)
- 24/7 on-demand tutoring (1400+ and 1500+ programs only)
Whether you just want a quick brush-up before the big test, or need a rigorous, in-depth course, Princeton Review has you covered with their multiple SAT prep packages. All courses include fun, engaging video lessons taught by highly experienced SAT tutors, multiple practice tests, and homework assignments tailored to the areas of the SAT where you need the most practice. As their names imply, the SAT 1400+ and SAT 1500+ courses come with guarantees that you will achieve those scores on the exam, which make them attractive options if you or your student have a target score in mind. Princeton Review also gives students the option to complete their course in-person, in live online classes, or through self-paced lessons.
Best In-Person Classes
- SAT On-Demand
- Live Online
- Live Online Plus
- In-Person Plus
- Diagnostic test
- Strategies for reading comprehension, math, writing
- SAT Channel with elective live instruction
- SAT prep books
- Online quizzes and quiz bank
- On-demand lessons
- Practice questions
- 1-on-1 coaching (Plus programs only)
- Math Foundations (Plus programs only)
- ACT prep resources (Plus programs only)
Kaplan has long been recognized as a leader in standardized test prep, and their SAT prep packages are no exception. With a variety of options, including in-person classes and online classes offered in synchronous and self-paced formats, you or your student can find the type of prep that best suits their needs and schedule. Their simple approach focuses on teaching a skill, drilling it through exercises, and demonstrating mastery in practice quizzes and tests, allowing students to see their progress and build upon their knowledge. Animation, music, and a conversational approach help keep video lessons engaging, while an easy-to-navigate dashboard helps students stay organized and focused.
4. Khan Academy
- Official SAT Practice
- Diagnostic test, or connect to College Board to import your scores
- Practice quizzes
- Strategy lessons
- Question guides
- Timed practice mini-sections
- Study plans
When it comes to value, it doesn’t get much better than free. Khan Academy was created through a partnership with the College Board to provide an SAT prep course that is available to all students. The result is a robust self-paced online course that includes strategy lessons, practice questions and quizzes for all sections of the SAT, and tailored study plans based on previous SAT scores or their diagnostic exam. While Khan Academy’s web interface is somewhat basic, it is easy to navigate, and provides clear explanations and answers to all practice questions. Although there are no tutors, students can access additional help through Khan Academy’s community forum.
Best Self-Paced Program
- Magoosh SAT Prep 1-Month
- Magoosh SAT Prep 3-Month
- Magoosh SAT Prep 12-Month
- 1500+ practice questions
- Video lessons and explanations
- Study schedules
- Tutor email assistance
- Study reminders
- Reward system
- Essay writing strategies
Magoosh’s online SAT course allows you to tailor your prep based on how much time you have before the test. The program helps you stay on track by setting up a study schedule, sending you text reminders for your study sessions, and offering rewards in the form of points that can be traded in for gift cards for hitting your study goals. Their mobile app makes it easier for students to study on the go. Regardless of which option students choose, they will have access to over 1500 practice questions, a library of video lessons covering all sections of the SAT, and email assistance from tutors.
Best Live Online Classes
- 6-Week Flagship
- 3-Week Fast Track
- Self-Paced Video
- Weekend Review
- Video lessons
- Homework assignments
PrepExpert, designed and developed by Shaan Patel, is a relative newcomer on the SAT prep scene, but has already garnered the attention of entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who invested in the company after Patel appeared on the TV show Shark Tank. Currently PrepExpert’s in-person classes are limited to a handful of U.S. cities, but they are accessible to students throughout the country in an online format. There are multiple day and time options for live online classes, and students and parents can also choose between the six-week or three-week course. PrepExpert’s curriculum focuses on strategies, so students who need more foundational work in math, reading and writing may find a different program more beneficial.
Best for Personalized Instruction
- SAT Quick Prep
- SAT Complete Package
- Video tutorials
- Study guide
- SAT prep materials (downloadable)
- Weekly countdown emails
- Personalized Q&A video replies
- Cash for College workshop
- Print prep books (Complete package only)
- Unlimited email support (Complete package only)
Higher Scores Test Prep is designed and administered by professional SAT tutor Lauren Gaggioli. Students enrolled in one of Higher Scores Test Prep’s two courses through weekly progress report emails as well as personalized video Q&A replies. The courses are distinguished by completion time. The Quick Prep program is designed to be completed in 2-5 weeks, so it’s a good option for those who only have limited time before their test. Meanwhile the Complete Package takes 8-12 weeks to complete, ideal for students who want to take their time with their studying. Both courses feature video lessons, practice tests, and emails sent to students and parents to track progress.
- Classic Class Course Live Online
- Classic Class Course In-Person
- Practice test review materials
- Mock tests
- Essay feedback
- In-depth discussion
- Step-by-step analysis
- Private tutoring (In-person class only)
The secret to Manhattan Review – and their students’ – success is their faculty. Not only does Manhattan Review seek out instructors and tutors who received top scores on their SATs, they also screen their faculty for teaching experience and academic and professional achievements. Instructors also undergo a rigorous training program. All students in Manhattan Review programs will interact with faculty, as courses are only delivered via in-person or live online classes. While this limits the flexibility of their offerings, students will benefit from direct support from faculty, including in-depth discussions of SAT strategies and materials, and quick feedback to help students’ skills improve faster.
Best for Practice Tests
- SAT Math & Verbal Online
- Electronic materials (Online class only)
- Printed materials (In-person class only)
- Extra online help
The name IvyBound references a pathway to Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, presumably aided by the SAT prep courses they offer. Students have multiple options for participating in live online classes, although students searching for in-person classes are limited to locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. Both online and in-person classes stress practice tests to master SAT strategies. Students can receive additional help during online Q&A sessions held twice a week.
- SAT Fundamental ECourse
- SAT Comprehensive ECourse
- 12 online lessons
- Homework guide
- Checklist for success
- Motivation test
- Math terms glossary
- Latin/vocab guide
- Essay templates
- Vocab book series (Comprehensive only)
- High school prep e-reader (Comprehensive only)
- “15 Secrets to Free College” e-reader (Comprehensive only)
College Prep Genius’s self-paced online courses were developed by SAT tutor and homeschool teacher Jean Burk, and follow her SAT prep textbook and workbook. For self-motivated students who don’t need a full class but would benefit from additional guidance and support, this is a flexible, easy-to-follow program. Students work through their text and workbook through 12 lessons that they can complete on their own schedule, with support available via phone and email. These courses come with a lot of supplemental materials, including essay templates, an appendix of math terms, and vocabulary lists.