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Best SAT Prep Courses
Our comprehensive guide to the best online SAT prep courses and classes available to students
Despite some universities dropping their SAT requirement, getting a top tier SAT score is arguably more important than ever. With nearly every college-bound high school student these days having a 3.8+ GPA and impressive extracurriculars, you need a top tier SAT score to stand out. To help you crush this exam and get the SAT score you need, our team has thoroughly reviewed and rated just about every online SAT prep course on the market and ranked the best ones here.
Feel free to use the jump-to links above to quickly navigate through this detailed SAT guide.
Video Review: Which SAT Prep Course Is Best For You?
In the video above, John from the Test Prep Insight team provides an overview of the best SAT prep courses on the market as we see them. If you want additional detail regarding any of the courses discussed, be sure to continue reading below.
There is a reason Kaplan is the popular choice among students and their parents for SAT prep – their curriculum is simply the best around. Led by some killer video-based lessons in their self-paced online course (much more on these below), the Kaplan study plan guides students through everything they must learn to properly prepare for the SAT.
The study plan staggers lessons and practice work by exam section topics, and orders them in a way that allows the student’s knowledge base to build on itself. In this respect, it is much like Princeton Review’s curriculum, which is a very good thing in our opinion.
Students are guided step-by-step through lessons (live online and recorded), homework assignments, SAT practice exams, and more. The entire course just has an extremely cohesive and detailed design that makes you really feel like you’re working in a streamlined fashion towards a successful end point.
For most Kaplan students, the coursework is carried out primarily through Kaplan’s live online lessons, but also with video lessons for those students in the self-paced program.
The live classes are led by some top tier SAT instructors, who are all vetted as much for their teaching and communications skills as they are for their expertise.
Our team found Kaplan’s live lectures to be particularly effective in terms of both structure and execution.
Additionally, the instructional work is complemented by some truly top-notch SAT practice material.
While Kaplan only offers 1,000 or so practice problems, which is less than most competitors, we had no qualms with the quality and found the practice work to be smartly written.
In short, while other courses are about quantity, Kaplan is all about quality, with a first-rate curriculum led by some awesome instructional tools.
Whereas Princeton Review uses their cool invisible whiteboard approach, Kaplan takes a more conversational approach to teaching. This is clearly aimed at teaching to teenage students, and intelligently takes the cool, casual approach.
Your instructor is often onscreen, sitting on a couch with a Starbucks coffee in hand, just talking to the camera. I know that sounds informal, but is very purposeful and well-designed. He or she just chats with you like a friend and breaks down what you need to learn with stories, jokes and mnemonics.
And when it comes time to demonstrate a point, your instructor will grab a tablet and stylus, and work problems right onscreen through a digital whiteboard.
The high production value and frequent segment changes in these video lessons really ups the engagement level for students and keeps your attention. Not to mention these clips are only 5 to 12 minutes long.
Moreover, your instructor will often pull in a high school student to help present the lesson through use of examples.
In short, our team loved this casual, conversational approach to teaching SAT subjects. While we don’t think it would necessarily jive with teaching an MCAT course, for the SAT, it works perfectly.
Princeton Review offers one of the most well-developed and detailed SAT curriculums in the test prep space (perhaps only trailing Kaplan). It was clear to us after taking and reviewing this course that every inch of their study plan has been expertly curated, down to the last word.
Your assigned study plan guides you step-by-step through all of the necessary content review and SAT test taking strategies in a course structure designed to build on itself and maximize material retention.
This is all accomplished through some first-rate live classes, video-based lessons, practice questions, books and more.
This package of impressive study resources is led by the live class work and video lectures. The live classes are taught by SAT instructors with decades of experience, who know the exam inside and out and have honed their communication skills to near perfection.
In addition, the video lessons are incredibly engaging and well-crafted (more on these below).
Backing up these instructional channels, Princeton Review also provides a set of content-rich textbooks and high-quality practice material that serves to hammer home the concepts taught through the classes and recorded lessons.
Altogether, this is an extremely powerful and comprehensive SAT prep course that impressed our team.
Fantastic Live SAT Classes
A clear highlight of the Princeton Review course is their live online classes. Meeting for 18 hours over the course of several sessions, not only did we find the instructors to be awesome, but also the curriculum itself. The Princeton classes don’t waste any time on fluff or rarely tested topics. It’s all business.
That’s not to say these classes are boring though. Because of the instructors’ knowledge and communication skills, we found the classes to be engaging and swift moving. For teens that need live classes, yet also need some pop to hold their attention, we really like Princeton.
Stellar Score Guarantees
In addition to the company’s Self-Paced and Essentials prep options, Princeton Review also offers SAT 1400+ and SAT 1500+ Tutoring courses.
As you might guess based on the names of these courses, Princeton Review essentially guarantees that you’ll score at least 1400 or 1500 on the SAT, respectively, or you get your money back.
Now these courses do not come cheap and there is some fine print attached, but still, if you’re aiming for acceptance into a top tier college, it’s hard to argue with those types of score guarantees.
In fact, Princeton Review offers the best score guarantees in the entire industry (even better than Kaplan, Magoosh and PrepScholar).
PrepScholar lands near the top of our best list for a number of reasons, with one of the main highlights being their insane volume of SAT practice work.
Offering over 7,100 practice questions and 10 practice exams, this SAT prep course blows the competition out the water when it comes to practice material (more on this below).
However, PrepScholar is much more than an accumulation of SAT practice questions – they also offer a comprehensive SAT prep curriculum through a set of very detailed lessons.
Their lesson plans, which cover just about every testable subject on the SAT, are a mix of text-based instruction and video lectures. The text-based lessons are extremely informative and provide more than enough information to master a given topic.
That said, we did find them to be a little dry at times – which can be an issue when trying to hold a high school student’s attention. This was one of our only complaints with this SAT prep course though.
The video lessons are very good, but we just wish they had these video-based lectures for every lesson topic (they only have them for most). Our team was also very impressed with the structure of PrepScholar’s coursework, using a classic “learn, practice, review” pattern.
You start by reviewing necessary content and learning a strategy, then test your knowledge with a quiz. Following this set of practice questions, you then review your answers to learn from your mistakes.
This is a classic and proven learning process used in a number of online SAT prep courses that we were happy to see. And one final point worth noting is PrepScholar’s clear step-by-step guidance through their lesson work and practice tests.
Students are given clear direction on what to study and when, which is directed by PrepScholar’s smart, adaptive software. All in all, PrepScholar is a formidable online prep course with competitive pricing that should work well for students that learn well through reading and aren’t 100% reliant on visuals.
Mountains Of SAT Practice Material
The most eye-popping feature of the PrepScholar package is their level of practice work. PrepScholar provides an astounding 7,100+ SAT practice problems and 10 full-length tests.
To put things in perspective, the next closest competitor barely offers 3,000 practice problems – less than half of what PrepScholar boasts.
In addition, their volume of practice exams is bested only by Princeton Review. These are some extremely impressive numbers that our team could not believe at first (particularly their practice questions figure).
This is a huge benefit to students that should not be overlooked. And to be clear, the quality of these practice problems does not suffer because of the high quantity – they are all still high-quality and we appreciated their thoughtful substance and feel.
So, for students who thrive on “learning by doing” through practice work, or just want to maximize their amount of practice material for long term study, PrepScholar will likely be your best option for boosting your SAT score.
It’s no secret that Magoosh makes our list of the best SAT prep courses primarily based on cost. But it isn’t ultra-affordable pricing alone that earns you a spot on our roster of top online SAT courses. You also have to deliver the goods – and Magoosh does.
When you sign up for one of the Magoosh self-paced SAT prep plans you will get access to their library of 200+ video lessons, 1,750+ practice problems, 3 practice exams, and a ton of fantastic problem explanations.
While the format of the video lessons isn’t our favorite, with a slideshow-style presentation and basic production value, the quality of content cannot be disputed. And the practice problems designed by Magoosh’s SAT experts do a fine job replicating real SAT questions.
In fact, our team of test prep experts actually prefers the Magoosh text and video-based solutions to many of the problem explanations you get with other SAT prep companies on this very list.
The text explanations are thorough and well-executed with graphics, equations and diagrams. And the video lessons are an extremely valuable benefit for visual learners.
We still can’t figure out how Magoosh offers thousands of video-based solutions for their problems when much more expensive courses don’t offer any.
In short, yes, Magoosh offers incredible bang for your buck (which we discuss more in the section below), but they are much more than that.
They offer a solid prep program built on some pretty incredible study resources that we are confident will work for most students.
Tremendous Value For Students
As mentioned above, the biggest selling point of the Magoosh SAT course is its price tag. This course really is for students (or parents) working with a limited budget.
The company’s two online prep courses, which are identical in terms of content, differ only in terms of bonus live classes. These two packages run for right around $130 and $400, respectively.
The Kaplan and Princeton Review self-paced options come somewhat close to this affordable pricing, but Magoosh remains the pricing king, especially with respect to their new live online class format.
As noted above, and to be clear, our team doesn’t just look at price and call it a day. We weigh the cost of the prep course against the actual value of the study materials, classes and more. And when it comes to Magoosh, they deliver on both ends, helping to boost students’ SAT scores.
Though our team of test prep experts was a little skeptical of this prep course given their unique entry into the SAT prep space through ABC’s Shark Tank, Prep Expert’s online prep program absolutely delivers.
Centered around founder Shaan Patel’s 100 homegrown test taking strategies, Prep Expert offers one of the best instructional packages in SAT prep.
Each and every one of their SAT instructors has either gotten a perfect score on the SAT or scored in the top 1% (evidencing their mastery of the exam), and has been trained to teach Shaan’s methods.
The live online classes are engaging, informative and one of the best methods of teaching SAT prep we have seen. In total, the classes add up to 36 total hours of first-rate instruction and cover both content review and strategy sessions.
These top-notch live online lessons are supplemented with video lectures from Shaan Patel himself and official SAT practice material. While the delivery format of the video lessons isn’t our favorite, we like Shaan’s teaching abilities and the content of these prerecorded lectures.
In addition, the SAT practice work that hammers home his strategy teachings doesn’t get any better, as it derived from real, previously administered SAT exams. Prep Expert was a must on our best list after having tried and verified their intelligent SAT strategies (more on these below).
Shaan Patel’s 100 SAT Strategies
The most unique, and coolest, feature of the Prep Expert course is their set of 100 SAT test taking strategies. These techniques were self-designed by founder Shaan Patel himself when he was studying for the SAT (and ACT).
Although that may have been a decade or so ago, these strategies still work, and work well. The video lessons and live classes revolve around these strategies, which include such techniques as “remove nonessential appositives,” “tackle line-cited questions first,” and “ace exponents.”
These strategies are integrated into the lesson plans as the central theme. Your instructor identifies a pain point of the SAT or way in which they try to trick you. He or she then shows you why and how the technique works, and works a few SAT practice problems to demonstrate.
When applied to practice questions, it is clear these Prep Expert strategies work. Many of these testing strategies we had not seen before, but think they make a ton of sense. And not only do they work, they are also practical and fairly easy to remember (both of which are crucial aspects of worthwhile test strategies).
Take a practice test early in your study schedule. Taking a diagnostic practice exam right out of the gate will allow you to become familiar with the format of the SAT exam. You will see how test questions are formatted, as well as understanding the instructions given on the test. Furthermore, taking a practice test early on will help you decide which areas you need to focus your study time on. And it never hurts to get a baseline score.
Practice, practice, practice. Utilize a prep course (self-paced online or live online), as well as sample questions available from the College Board. Be sure to take at least one practice test with the use of a timer to simulate the real test. This will give you a sense of timing so you can learn to pace yourself accordingly. Bottom line, practice makes perfect.
Increase the time you spend reading and brush up your grammar skills. There is a lot of reading and writing on the SAT, so get yourself prepared to read, understand and answer questions effectively.
Practice self-care. Studying for the SAT exam can be stressful, but it will be far more daunting if you don’t take care of yourself. Make sure to stay hydrated, eat healthy meals and take time for physical exercise daily. Don’t skimp on sleep. Practice mindfulness daily, and stay connected with friends and family.
Do I need a SAT prep course?
The answer here is very likely yes. With college admissions being more competitive than ever, you’ll likely need a top tier SAT score to stand out from the crowd. And in order to get the score, you will almost certainly need a prep course of some kind, whether an online SAT prep course or old, school in-person class.
How much does a typical SAT prep course cost?
SAT prep courses can cost anywhere from $100 up to $2,000 or more depending on what features and level of support you need. On average though, most families spend between $300 and $1,000 on a SAT prep course.
Will a SAT prep course raise my score?
As compared to self-studying or no studying at all, a prep course will very likely raise your score. The SAT is a tricky and difficult exam that you need test-specific strategies to master, and a prep course will provide the necessary material.