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Best PSAT Prep Courses & Study Guides
Our detailed guide to the best online PSAT prep courses and study materials available for students
The SAT is still considered the standard for college entrance exams, even as other tests like the ACT take on more importance. In order to ace the SAT, many students turn to the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), otherwise known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Not only does this test help prepare you to take the full SAT, but it can also serve to qualify a student for the National Merit Scholarship Program. That’s why prep courses and study guides for the PSAT can be every bit as important as those for the SAT.
Princeton Review has a long history of offering outstanding resources for all levels of test prep, and it begins with the PSAT. Their PSAT prep is all about private tutoring. Depending on how many hours you need and which package you choose, you can plan on spending anywhere from just under $170 to about $190 per hour, which we see as money well spent for the quality of instruction they provide.
The Princeton Review program offers personalized, one-on-one preparation with an expert tutor. As opposed to just diving in to watch videos or take practice tests, you and your tutor will develop a plan with achievable goals, and then work together to achieve and exceed them.
You’ll be guided every step of the way by your tutor who is expressly paired to your needs. The program does, of course, offer access to full-length practice tests as well as a library of over 2,000 practice questions. You will also get copies of Princeton Review’s PSAT prep books. The program uses a system of open communication, so you always have access to the help you need.
This comprehensive program offers a guarantee of 100% satisfaction with your tutor after the first session. If you aren’t satisfied, they allow you to change your tutor to a better match, and give you a free session to make up for the lost time. You’ll also get score feedback reports to let you know exactly where you made mistakes and why, so that you can target your specific areas of need to achieve the best possible score. We believe that this program is about the best all-around pick for PSAT prep for its personalized approach, stellar video instruction, and highly effective practice materials.
PrepScholar bills itself as the affordable online course that does things right. They use adaptive technology and algorithms to analyze student weaknesses and strengths, and customize a program tailored to the student’s abilities. They also offer a 150-point score increase guarantee, meaning your PSAT score is guaranteed to improve by at least 150 points over prior exams, or else they give you your money back. This is one of the most generous guarantees in the PSAT prep market and our team was very pleased with this promise.
The PrepScholar program offers over 100 hours of online lessons and well over 7,000 practice questions created by top instructors. With this much content, you can prepare for months and never encounter the same question twice. Many of the lessons include video instruction that provide a greater sense of engagement and break down the toughest ideas in a sophisticated way so that you’ll gain a greater understanding of the exam, no matter which section you’re drilling on.
Their system works in three stages. First, you’ll watch a video and interact with an online lesson. You’ll then move on to PSAT test questions that closely mimic the kinds you’ll find on the exam. Finally, you’ll review the answers and learn why you made mistakes so you don’t make them again. All of this comes in one package that monitors your progress and offers test-taking strategies to help get you in the right mindset for the exam. Overall, our experts found this prep system to be very effective and rated their materials very highly.
There are two packages: The Complete PSAT Online Prep, with a price tag of approximately $400, and the Complete + Tutoring package. This latter package adds 1-on-1 time with a personalized tutor who will coach you on specific weak points, guide you through the toughest areas, and provide extra motivation for success. The added cost for the tutoring is about $600, making the package price around $1,000. Both packages provide you one-year of access to the full content. In the end, we see these moderately priced packages as a solid approach to PSAT prep.
Kaplan has long been a leader in a wide range of test prep resources, from high school to graduate school and beyond. As a result, their prep course for the PSAT is among the best out there. That said, it is, unfortunately, somewhat pricey, with their most extensive Unlimited Prep program coming in at around $1,300.
However, this course not only provides unlimited access to live online classes to help prepare you for the PSAT, but also the SAT itself. This option offers unlimited access to their SAT On Demand service, which our team likes because it allows you to take full-length practice exams. So while expensive, you really are getting a two-for-one with PSAT and SAT prep.
In addition, this program provides live instruction with Kaplan teachers who are affiliated with the College Board. Our team was very happy to see this, and was generally impressed with the Kaplan instruction overall, finding it to be very high quality. You’ll also have 24/7 access to their SAT Channel, with a wide range of helpful questions, answers and test-taking strategies. You can further take practice tests that include past versions of official exams from the College Board.
Being exposed to previously administered PSATs helps to prepare you for test day, so we like their inclusion of these past exams. And perhaps most importantly, you will be able to drill yourself with a question bank of over 1,000 practice questions, and take advantage of four Kaplan SAT prep books.
If the Unlimited Prep version isn’t enough, you can kick it up a level to Unlimited Prep with Tutoring, which costs about $1,700. Again, this is a high price point, but gives you everything in the Unlimited Prep and adds 4 hours of one-on-one tutoring with a live teacher. This tutoring is personalized specifically to your needs and can help you address your specific weak points.
If these programs are cost prohibitive (as may be the case for some students), you can take advantage of either of their two less expensive programs. The Live Online option costs roughly $500 and gives you access to live online classes taught by PSAT teaching experts in an interactive classroom. Another option is the self-paced, on-demand course that let you work at your own pace and study in whatever fashion suits your needs best. This version will run you around $300 and is effective for self-motivated students who have busy schedules.
Advertising itself as a world leader in digital prep courses taught by a student who achieved a perfect SAT score and who also appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, The Kranse Institute PSAT program is combined with their SAT program and offers several tools for success. You will have access to 147 high quality, quick hit video lessons that are accessible anywhere you have an internet connection, as well as 100+ testing strategies.
Our in-house SAT and PSAT experts put these testing strategies to the test (no pun intended) and found them extremely effective. In addition, practice tests can be printed so you can take them on the go, and you get lifetime access to the company’s mobile app.
The program itself costs right around $500. With that, you get 18 months of direct access to all of Kranse’s tools, lessons and materials so you can prepare not just for the PSAT, but for the SAT when the time comes as well. They offer a 7-day Cram Guarantee, which is a money-back guarantee if you don’t like the program after seven days.
In our team’s opinion, what sets this course apart from others is the videos, which average only 10 minutes in length and are easily digestible, to ensure a high level of engagement. Their approach is focused on strategy and test-taking skills as opposed to memorization, which we loved. Kranse Institute boasts that students see an average score increase of 210 points and an improvement from the 50th to the 90th percentile on average.
The program is cheaper than Kaplan’s course options, and less expensive than the top-tier PrepScholar package, but it is more expensive than the PrepScholar base package. We believe that as a mid-range package from a pricing standpoint, this program has a great deal to offer in terms of its promise for success. It boasts a solid track record as an option for those looking for a comprehensive, strategy-based test prep resource.
The four programs above are some of the best resources available for boosting your score and success on the PSAT. This exam is not only vital for improving your scores on the SAT, and thus getting accepted into your chosen college, but it can also potentially help fund your college career through the National Merit Scholarship Fund.
What to Expect on the PSAT
The PSAT is given over three hours in a single session and covers three sections: evidence-based reading, which comprises 47 questions over 60 minutes; writing and language, which has 44 questions over 35 minutes; and a math section that has 47 questions and is made up of a 25-minute section without using a calculator and a 45-minute section with the use of a calculator. Your score will range from 320 to 1520, and you will be ranked based on your percentile.
How much does a typical PSAT prep course cost?
Depending on the features and level of personal touch you need, a prep package will run you anywhere from around $300 up to $1,700.
Do I need a PSAT prep course?
If you are just taking the PSAT to prepare yourself for the SAT or if you’re a naturally strong student, you may be able to prepare for the exam with prep books alone. However, if you aren’t self-motivated or if your goal is to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program, a PSAT prep course will most definitely be advantageous.
Will PSAT prep course raise my score?
Most likely yes. Most PSAT prep courses provide high quality instructional material and practice work, that upon completion will almost surely raise your score.