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Testive SAT Review
Our detailed review of the Testive SAT prep course
Most parents of college-bound high schoolers will agree that it can be a challenge to get their student to focus on prepping for an exam that is months out. For many students, a classic lecture hall style prep class or reading a dense prep book just won’t cut it. Enter Testive. Testive offers a unique, personalized approach to prepping students built around weekly calls with a dedicated SAT tutor and customized practice material. But does this new school, guided approach to preparing for the SAT really work? We take a close look at the Testive SAT prep course in this in-depth review and evaluate all of its features.
Testive is a test prep company that offers a totally fresh take on preparing for the SAT. Founded by a couple of MIT grads, the idea is fairly simple. Combine some super smart, AI-driven software that analyzes student performance and adapts their practice work with the classic and all-important personal touch of a human. In other words, the course combines weekly, personalized tutoring with intelligent and focused practice.
The Testive prep package is built primarily around weekly calls with a dedicated SAT tutor. When you sign up with Testive, they will match you with a tutor who will be with you throughout your entire prep process. From your first prep session until post-exam, your coach will be your steady, guiding hand. And unlike traditional tutors who focus just on teaching content, Testive’s coaches focus on a more comprehensive approach to learning. Your coach helps you towards your larger college aspirations, designs custom homework for you, and is even there to give you a pep talk or listen to you vent when you need it. The idea is that your coach is your personal guide from beginning to end.
This coaching component is then combined with targeted practice work. Between coaching sessions, students commit to and are assigned bite-sized practice question sets to work on. These practice question sessions are tailored to the student in part through their coach’s recommendation and in part by some very smart, adaptive technology that Testive employs. These practice sets are short, but frequent to keep students motivated.
Testive is also fairly unique among test prep companies in how they price and structure their course, as described in more detail below.
Course Options and Pricing
Testive offers three different prep packages from which to choose. But unlike other test prep providers’ offerings, which generally feature a one-time course purchase, Testive uses a subscription model for two of their three products.
Their two primary offerings are the “Coaching” package and “Coaching Plus” package, and each is a pay-as-you-go monthly subscription package. The Coaching course, which is built around a once weekly 30-minute call with your SAT coach, costs roughly $400 per month. As such, the Testive package is not a bargain prep offering like Magoosh SAT prep. However, you do get what you pay for, as this package also includes access to all of Testive’s other prep materials, including 3,000+ practice questions and 50+ hours of video-based instruction.
The Coaching Plus course is approximately the same as the Coaching course, but offers twice weekly meetings with your SAT coach, rather than once weekly. This package is aimed at students that need extra help in a particular area or are targeting an elite score. This package runs for around $600 per month.
Lastly, Testive does offer one traditional type course – its Bootcamp package. The Bootcamp package carries a one-time price tag of around $800. This course is designed to assist students who have a very short timeframe in which to study, generally 4-6 weeks. Whereas the Coaching and Coaching Plus packages are intended to help students over more prolonged periods (2-5 months), the Bootcamp package is intensive and meant to be quick hit. It packs in all of the course materials from the regular courses, and you meet with your SAT tutor 2x week over your 4 to 6 weeks.
Course options and pricing current as of date of publication.
Our Review of the Testive SAT Prep Course
Taking a different approach than most other SAT prep courses (like proven prep providers Kaplan and Princeton Review), I was a little skeptical of Testive’s prep package upon reading about it, particularly at its higher end price point. However, this also got me pretty excited to check it out, as most test prep companies are afraid to break the mold. And now, having taken the Testive course for 2+ months, I can say I am thoroughly impressed with the design, content and execution of this prep package. This is a truly effective prep alternative, for the reasons discussed below.
The course starts by pairing you with a Testive tutor. You answer some questions and give some information about yourself, which Testive then takes and analyzes to match you with a compatible partner. I am not sure exactly what goes into this process on their end, but it definitely works, as I got along extremely well with my assigned SAT tutor.
After being assigned a dedicated tutor (who from here out I’ll call “coach” as that is the terminology Testive uses), you take a full-length diagnostic SAT exam. Your performance on this test is analyzed by Testive’s software and your coach to help set a baseline of your knowledge and skills. From there, the baseline is used to establish realistic SAT (and college) goals, and to generate your initial practice work.
Once your coach has seen the results of your diagnostic exam and had time to process the data, you have your first session. While most every session after the first one is approximately 30 minutes, the first one is a bit longer. You and your coach discuss your performance on the practice test, your strengths and weaknesses, your college aspirations and a number of other topics. This helps your coach get a feel for you as a learner and what you are realistically capable of. It also gives you a good a chance to bond with your coach, who you’ll be meeting with numerous times over the next 2-5 months.
It was clear from the first coaching session that having a dedicated coach was going to offer huge advantages. All Testive coaches have scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT, and have been vetted for other traits like communication and motivational skills. My assigned coach was incredible. She was highly intelligent, clearly knew the SAT like the back of her hand, and was extremely positive and bubbly. Sometimes this type of optimistic and can-do motivational attitude can be just as important as the hard skills, and fortunately, she offered all of the above.
Following your first coaching session, the rest of the sessions follow a similar format. Between coaching calls, you work on numerous practice assignments throughout the week. More on these below, but as your work on them, your coach tracks your progress. So once you jump on your weekly call, your coach is all caught up and there’s no need to fill them in how you did or where you struggled. They already know.
So the first part of every call is dedicated to reviewing your performance from the past week, discussing problem areas and where you can improve, and reviewing content where you need it. Then, near the end of the call, you and your coach discuss plans for the next week. Together you design a schedule that works for you, and your coach fills it in with tailored practice work (assisted by Testive’s adaptive software).
I really liked how my coach flexed the weekly assignments around my schedule. The Testive coaches genuinely seem to care about making sure you are productive and successful, and they realize you won’t be if they just drop a bunch of work on you and say “get it done.” So they make realistic goals and have you committed to things you know you have time for. This was a major perk in my eyes.
Finally, you end the call with a little open forum and pep talk. You can ask any questions you have or bring up lingering issues, but this is generally a recap and “go get ‘em tiger” type sendoff. My coach always left things on an upbeat, positive note. These 30 minutes coaching sessions are short, but they are jam-packed. I have never seen 30 minutes fly by so fast.
Your coach comes in with a full agenda and they are sure to get through it. This was nice, as you really feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. Testive is not the cheapest prep option, so you want to make sure you are getting great value, and these coaching sessions really make it feel like you are.
As for the practice sessions between each coaching call, the Testive practice work is excellent. The questions closely mirror real SAT problems and I had zero complaints about the style, content or format of the questions. They were all on point and it was clear Testive has put in significant time to create them. Testive offers 3,000+ practice questions for you to access and work on. That is a massive amount of practice and in fact, more than you get with many of the big-name prep providers.
At a minimum, you are assigned 100 questions per week over at least 3 days. That is Testive’s baseline threshold to make sure you are getting enough work in. But in my experience, it was often more than 100 questions and spread over more like 5 days. To be clear though, they do not overwhelm you with practice. Testive’s aim is to give you frequent, but short assignments over a longer run.
The idea is that if you consistently do brief assignments over a prolonged period, the material will really sink in and become second nature. Not to mention, it can be hard to keep a 17-year old’s focus. If you think you are going to do it with 3-hour practice sessions and 7 days per week of training, you’re crazy. That is why Testive keeps all of their assignments to just 20 to 30 minutes. They are quick and over before you even get going. I personally loved this method of practice.
As you work through your practice questions, you are prompted to review missed problems. You can also review problems you get right, but you have to review problems you get wrong. And this is a very good thing, because this is where the learning comes in. Answering a question is just part of the exercise – you also have to review to learn.
When you miss a question, you start by reviewing a text explanation. This generally just tells you why the correct answer choice is correct and the others are wrong. It gives you the reasoning behind the question and answer. But then Testive also gives you a video solution. This detailed video lesson walks you through step-by-step how you should have answered the problem. This is a fantastic resource for figuring out how you should have attacked a question and where you went wrong.
As a follow up to the video solution, Testive then has you categorize your miss and reflect on it through notes. You have to come up with a reason for why you missed the problem (generally from a number of preset reasons like “silly mistake”) and then jot some quick notes down on why you missed it. This self-reflection is gold. Believe me, it is not fun when you are doing it, but it really helps with the learning process. I have not seen another test prep company that incorporates this type of self-evaluation into their review process, and I love it. It absolutely helps with comprehension and retention.
And that is generally how the process goes until you are ready to sit for the exam. You have your weekly call (2 if you get the PLUS package) where you review last week’s work, plan for the coming week and cover anything that needs to be addressed. Then you hammer practice problems for roughly 20-30 minutes per night over 4 or 5 nights, and sync back up with your coach. The cyclical nature of the program and the repetitiveness really increases your knowledge base and understanding of the material.
Overall, I loved the Testive course design and how it plays out in reality. Your coach is crucial to the success of the package, and my coach definitely delivered. Your coach guides you throughout the process and makes sure you stay focused and on track. The practice work is top notch as well, and backstopped by even better problem explanations and video solutions. I truly believe all types of learners could benefit from this course. For students who need a steady hand to guide them across the SAT finish line, or are looking for a solid point boost, Testive is a great option in my opinion.
User Experience and User Interface
Being an entirely online prep course, Testive has spent significant resources generating a first-rate online platform. Their digital platform is your home base for scheduling calls with your coach, following your weekly assignments, working on practice problems and much more. As such, Testive has ensured users are offered a pleasant experience.
The portal is very easy to use. You are clearly directed from the navigation bar at the top of your screen to your practice work, review features and analytics. Essentially, no matter what you want to do – look at your weekly calendar, work some extra practice problems, examine some metrics on your performance, etc. – it’s all right there a couple clicks away. I had no issues whatsoever utilizing this portal.
In addition, the look and feel of the platform is quite pleasing. The website has a very fun feel to it, with bright colors and simple designs. Testive has utilized the “less is more approach” with their platform, and it works. I personally loved the interface of this digital platform, especially when compared to some other prep companies’ portals, which can be very busy.
Online Content Access Period
Your access to Testive’s study materials and your coaching sessions are directly tied to how many months of coaching you purchase. As mentioned, Testive does use a monthly subscription model, though you can purchase access in 2-, 3-, 4-, or 5-month blocks. But no matter how you cut it, your access is tied to your active subscription with Testive.
The one exception here is the Bootcamp course. This course generally offers around 2 months of access, as the Bootcamp package is intended to be a short, 4- to 6-week intensive course.
Is There a Money Back Guarantee?
Testive does offer a money back guarantee if your score does not improve after using their services. The terms of this promise are fairly straightforward and generous as compared to other test prep companies’ policies. Basically, you give Testive a baseline score to start (a previous SAT score or your diagnostic score with them), and if after having used their prep services, your official SAT score does not go up, you can get your money back. This is a nice fallback plan if you’re not satisfied with the results.
Verdict: Testive SAT Prep
Testive offers a unique SAT prep experience that may not work for all students, but should be highly effective for most. Rather than using a traditional method of instruction, such as in-person classes or assigned reading from a textbook, Testive’s course revolves around weekly coaching with a dedicated SAT tutor. Your SAT coach guides you through content review, improves on your weak spots, and assigns homework tailored to your individual needs. These weekly meetings are interspersed with high-quality practice assignments which are given based on the analysis of Testive’s adaptive software.
This practice material is also backstopped by some even better text and video solutions to help bring the review process full circle. Together, this combination of interpersonal guidance, solid practice work and smart, objective technology offers a very personalized and powerful prep package, which lands Testive on our list of best SAT prep courses. I was a huge fan of Testive’s unique and personalized approach to SAT prep, and have no issue giving this course a 5-star rating.
How much does Testive SAT prep cost?
As Testive’s course primarily revolves around weekly coaching, they use monthly subscription packages, which cost approximately $400 per month and $600 per month, respectively. Testive also offers a highly intensive Bootcamp course that costs around $800.
How does Testive SAT prep work?
Testive employs the unique approach of weekly guided coaching combined with first-rate practice material. You meet once or twice per week with your coach and work on personalized homework assignments between meetings.
Is Testive SAT prep worth it?
In our team’s opinion, yes. Though a little on the pricey side of SAT prep, Testive offers a personalized and high-touch prep experience that you just can’t get elsewhere.