The SAT is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. The test is now under the administration of the College Board.
When I was in high school, every student needed to send SAT scores, recommendations, grades, and extracurricular activities to colleges for the admission committee to evaluate.
Though currently, several colleges do not require SAT scores as before, most still do. Thus, obtaining high SAT scores is highly recommended.
How Much Is A Good SAT Score?
How much is a “Good SAT Score” depends totally on your goals or, specifically, your dream school rankings.
Suppose you want to apply to an Ivy League school such as Harvard, Yale, or Columbia (my alma mater) or other top-ranking colleges. In that case, you will need an extraordinary score such as 1550/1600 or even higher.
Nevertheless, your SAT score does not need to be that high if you apply to other schools across America.
As a rule of thumb, you need to check the average SAT scores of your dream school’s admitted students. If your SAT score is already in the upper range, that score is good enough.
For example, typical SAT scores for Columbia students are
- Reading and Writing – 700-770/800
- Math – 740/800
If you get a 750 on reading and writing and a 770 on math, this score is sufficient for applying to Columbia. I don’t think you need to retake the test. It would be best if you spend more time on other parts of the application.
However, attaining high scores on the SAT is not easy, especially for international students like me. You have to work hard to be ready for the test.
Are SAT Prep Courses Worth It?
First, there are many methods to prepare for the SAT. You can prepare for the SAT on your own by buying books and practice tests and then self-studying.
However, based on my experience, learning from a sat prep book can be very ineffective. I spent more than three months self-studying, but in the end, my test score improved by only 30 points!
Coming back to SAT prep courses, are they going to be a better investment?
YES! If it is a high-quality one.
Good SAT prep courses will not merely explain concepts or solutions to the practice tests. Most importantly, you will understand how top test-takers approach the exam questions, manage the time efficiently, and many more.
As a result, you will then develop “test-wiseness” and use it to tackle the SAT and earn high scores.
Affiliate Disclosure: This post from Victory Tale contains affiliate links. We will receive a small commission if you purchase any courses through my links.
Nevertheless, we always value integrity and prioritize our audience’s interests. Thus, you can rest assured that we will present each prep course truthfully.
PrepScholar is a leading provider of online test prep. In addition to the SAT, PrepScholars also provides test prep courses for the GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, and many more.
PrepScholar’s main course is self-paced. You will learn how to ace the SAT on your own. However, each lesson will be interactive and intuitive, providing better experience and results than learning from books.
Still, PrepScholar also offers instructor-led courses. Students will learn live with their instructor in the online classroom, which is equivalent to Prep Expert’s live session courses.
PrepScholar’s teachers are of high caliber. They belong to the top 1% of all participants. Many got perfect scores on the SAT and attended top colleges in the United States, such as Harvard. Many are even pursuing a Ph.D.
Complete SAT Online Prep
Complete SAT Online Prep is PrepScholar’s flagship self-paced SAT prep course. The pricing is a one-time $397. Here is what you will get from it.
First, you will take the diagnostic test for the PrepScholar platform to create your customized curriculum that fits your difficulty level.
Next, PrepScholar will create a curriculum based on your test results. You will work on more challenging practice questions on topics you have done well or even skip the entire lesson. In contrast, PrepScholar will assign you easier quizzes if you are struggling with that subject.
The entire curriculum is also adaptive, which means it will change automatically according to your performance. If you are better, the pace on that topic will be faster. Thus, you would not spend time on repetitive and boring course materials.
You will learn from reading texts, watching videos, and completing online quizzes.
Below is how PrepScholar structures each lesson:
- Part I: You will learn core concepts and SAT strategies from reading texts and watching videos. All course materials are bite-sized, so you will not read through a wall of texts or watch hours of boring videos.
- Part II: This part will help you put what you learn in Part I into immediate practice. You will complete 20 real SAT questions in 20 minutes.
- Part III: You will review your mistakes if any. PrepScholar will provide detailed explanations of each question to help you understand.
After you complete some lessons, PrepScholar will ask you to complete full-length practice tests from the College Board. These practice tests are not online since the school wants students to simulate the testing environment.
In my opinion, this approach deserves five stars. The prep course is effortless to follow. A customized curriculum will also help you focus more on your weaknesses and eliminate them in no time.
Progress Tracker and Parental Control
PrepScholar provides complete progress trackers, which are beneficial for students to view their progress.
Furthermore, PrepScholar also sends weekly reports to parents. Thus, parents can see how their kids are working on the platform.
- 210 hours of content (700+ problem-solving videos)
- 7,100 practice questions
- Ten real practice exams
- 1-year access
PrepScholar Classes and Complete+ Tutoring
PrepScholar Classes is more like an extension to the self-paced option. You will get everything in the self-paced package plus expert-led SAT classes, which you will learn with live instructors online.
Unlike Prep Expert, live classes at PrepScholar will be smaller, with no more than nine students per class. However, the courses are only 9 hours long. This package will cost $895.
Complete+ Tutoring is the ultimate SAT solution from PrepScholar. You will get 1-on-1 tutoring added to your self-paced package. Thus, you will get individualized training from PrepScholar experts.
You can select how much the experts will help you. You can ask for brief guidance or cumulative SAT training. The latter option will resemble a private SAT prep course, but it will cost considerably more.
The pricing starts at $995 but can be as high as $6,995.
I don’t think you need either option, as PrepScholar’s self-paced SAT prep course is already excellent in itself. Extra classes or private tutoring may be beneficial, but they are pricey.
Nine hours of instructor-led classes will cost you $500 more, which is $55 on average per hour or 3-4 times that of Prep Expert.
Nevertheless, if you are still struggling or aiming for a perfect score, these two SAT prep options might be worthy of consideration.
PrepScholar Pros and Cons
- Excellent customized curriculum built by experts and advanced technology
- High-quality and well-structured interactive lessons
- More practice questions than others (4-5 times more than other test prep course providers)
- Generous on course content
- Inexpensive self-paced prep course
- Good for parental control
- In-built system to motivate students
- 160+ point score improvement guarantee – most for any self-paced SAT prep course
- 5-day free trial
- Instructor-led group classes and 1-on-1 tutoring are expensive. The group classes are also much shorter compared to other competitors.
- No mobile app
- Use fewer videos than the average SAT prep course, which can be either a pro or a con.
In general, PrepScholar is one of the best SAT prep courses, especially for those who want to learn by completing exercises. If you dislike videos and other generalized training, PrepScholar’s customized training and interactive lessons would probably be your optimal alternative.
2. The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review is probably the most well-known test prep company. It provides various test prep courses on the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, LSAT, and many more.
When I prepared for college admissions ten years ago, The Princeton Review was one of my favorite test prep materials, as their explanations on the books were the most understandable.
I also took their in-person SAT prep course. What I liked most about it was the quality of the instructor. He was brilliant and explained concepts very well. Generally, that SAT prep course was excellent and instrumental in my success in Columbia admissions.
As of 2021, the company has evolved significantly from that point. The Princeton Review offers a wide range of full-fledged online SAT prep courses.
There are many options to choose from: self-paced, instructor-led courses, or even 1-on-1 tutoring. You can handily choose an SAT prep course that suits your learning style.
Instructor-Led SAT Prep Courses
There are two instructor-led SAT courses for students to choose from:
- SAT Essentials ($899)
- 1400+ Course ($1,599)
SAT Essentials is the basic SAT prep course for the Princeton Review. You will learn with the top-rated instructor for a total of 18 hours in the live online classroom.
Each session will be 3 hours long. You can choose whether to take it once or twice a week.
Moreover, there are an extra 140 short video lessons to review what you have learned in a live class and strengthen the crucial minor concepts you are still not good at.
Furthermore, you will gain access to the following resources:
- 21 full-length SAT practice tests
- Eight single-section (SAT Reading/Writing, SAT Math) practice exams
- SAT Advantage sessions (A live session where experts will help review difficult concepts, strategies and topics)
- ACT and PSAT self-paced prep
- Customized homework, personalized study guide, improvement tracking
- Additional admission-related resources such as college rankings
- Higher score guarantee
1400+ is an SAT prep program that targets students who aim for top colleges. The structure of the course is similar to the essential test prep. However, The Princeton Review will add more resources and services to this course, which are
- 36+ hours live, online learning from top instructors (Increased from 18 hours)
- Free 24/7 tutor on-demand – You can ask your personal tutor anytime, but you will not take live online classes with them.
- Customized homework assignments – The AI will create homework that best addresses your weaknesses found by analyzing your simulated SAT results.
- Review and practice books
- 1400+ SAT score guarantee (**Not everyone is eligible for this guarantee, students need to score at least 1200 in the previous SAT.**)
1-on-1 tutoring is the cream of the crop of the Princeton Review. You will get the best resources, instructors, learning experience, or basically, everything that you can from the test prep provider.
1500+ is an optimal course. You will learn 1-on-1 with the best Princeton Review tutors.
These tutors are highly experienced. They have taught students for more than 3,000 hours and helped many achieve a near-perfect score on the SAT.
The pricing starts at $250 per hour. However, you can buy a full bundle that costs $4,200. Below is what you will get from the course.
- 18 hours of 1-on-1 tutoring (live online classes)
- 25+ full length SAT practice tests + 8 single-section exams
- 2,000 SAT practice questions and 240+ online drills
- SAT Advantage sessions
- 140+ interactive video lessons
- ACT and PSAT Prep
- Detailed score reports to analyze your performance
If 18 hours is not enough, you can also buy unlimited hours if needed.
Identical to other test prep providers, The Princeton Review also provides a self-paced course. The pricing starts at $199. Considering both the pricing and quality of resources, this is probably one of the most affordable SAT prep courses.
Let’s see what you will get from the course
- 280+ Video Lessons – Students will learn SAT concepts, strategies, and topics from the Princeton Review’s video content.
- 377 drills and 3,200 practice questions
- 15 SAT practice tests
- PSAT test prep
- Flexible study schedules fit for busy high school students
- 1-year access
- Score improvement guarantee (Refund 100% course fees if you do not get higher scores)
Furthermore, The Princeton Review offers several optional add-ons to this self-paced SAT prep course, which are
- SAT and ACT Prep for $299 (Add ACT Prep, Video Lessons for 5 AP exams, Practice Test Review Sessions)
- SAT and ACT Prep with 10-hour tutoring for $589
In my opinion, you don’t need both options. If you don’t plan to take the ACT or those AP exams, these resources will go to waste. The self-paced course also provides excellent detailed solutions to all questions, so you would not need a tutor either.
The Princeton Review Pros and Cons
- Various types of SAT prep classes to select
- High-quality instructors
- Excellent video content
- More full-length practice tests than any other online SAT prep
- Effortless access to tutors
- 1400+ and 1500+ courses offer an “aggressive” score improvement guarantee.
- Self-paced SAT prep course is value for money (50% cheaper than PrepScholar.)
- Best cumulative solutions for college admissions test prep (ACT and AP included)
- 14-day free trial
- Instructor-led courses and 1-on-1 tutoring are all expensive.
- Poor customer support
- Difficulty getting refunds
- Some reviewers, including me, believe some practice exams are way too easy.
The bottom line is that The Princeton Review offers one of the best online SAT prep courses. Their instructors and course materials are among the best in the industry. If you like video lessons, the Princeton Review is probably your best option.
The Princeton Review offers a 7-day free trial for everyone to try their self-paced SAT course.
Magoosh is another excellent provider of test prep courses. Like the Princeton Review, Magoosh offers SAT, ACT, MCAT, LSAT, TOEFL, and many more.
Those who take the test would be comfortable preparing for it anytime and anywhere, as Magoosh has a high-quality mobile app for everyone to use.
Magoosh SAT (Self-Paced)
Magoosh’s flagship product is self-paced online SAT prep. The curriculum is straightforward, as you will learn almost 100% from video lessons. Even practice questions have video solutions!
If you appreciate the video content, Magoosh SAT could be your favorite SAT course.
However, I believe that Magoosh’s strength lies in its mobile app, which can help you learn a lot easier than other options. Their apps are also highly rated in both Android and iOS (both above 4.5/5.0).
What you get from the Magoosh SAT prep course is as follows:
- Web and mobile app access
- 200 video lessons
- 1,750 practice questions
- Three practice tests
- Customizable practice sessions
- 100+ point improvement guarantee
- performance analysis and progress tracking
- Email assistance from experts
The pricing of this SAT prep starts at $100 for 1-month access. If you want annual access, you have to pay $129, which is much more affordable than other choices.
Magoosh SAT prep classes
Magoosh now offers SAT live online classes for students. You will learn with an expert instructor for 16 hours and access the entire self-paced curriculum of Magoosh for one year.
These will cost $399, which is again much cheaper than most SAT prep classes available.
Magoosh Pros and Cons
- Magoosh SAT self-paced courses and live classes are some of the most affordable SAT prep courses on the market.
- Excellent mobile app to learn from anytime and anywhere
- High-quality video content
- Customizable practice sessions (perfect for preventing boredom)
- Thousands of practice questions at $129. All of them have video solutions too.
- 100+ point score improvement
- Few full-length practice exams. You will need to find more elsewhere if you need more practice.
- No 1-on-1 tutoring
- Unsuitable for those who dislike videos
In general, features and other resources are certainly less than high-priced SAT courses. Still, they are powerful and could help you get higher scores.
The pricing is also much more affordable than other peers. If we take this into account, Magoosh is the best SAT prep course for thrifty students.
Magoosh offers a 7-day free trial for students to try their self-paced SAT course.
4. Prep Expert
Prep Expert is one of the best SAT prep courses available online. Many may be familiar with this online school, as its founder, Dr. Shaan Patel, appeared in Shark Tank and got an offer from Mark Cuban.
The great thing about Prep Expert is that every student will learn from the best SAT tutors. Each tutor either achieved a perfect score or belonged to the top 1% of all test participants.
Course Structure and Pricing
Prep Expert offers two types of SAT prep courses: live session and self-paced
- Course Structure: Live in a virtual classroom
- Class Time: 2 classes, 3 hours long for each. (You can select the one that fits your schedule)
- Instructor: various (You can choose your instructor)
- Duration: 6-8 weeks
- Price: $999 (for 6-week course) – $1,499 (for 8-week course)
- 200+ points score improvement guarantee (get a 100% refund if your score does not improve more than 200 points)
- Course Structure: 30-hour pre-recorded videos, which is quite similar to a live session class.
- Class Time: Anywhere, Anytime
- Instructor: Dr.Shaan Patel
- Access: 1 Year
- Price: $699
- Score Improvement Guarantee (100% money back if you don’t get higher scores)
Identical to other SAT prep courses, a money-back guarantee is not eligible for every student. You must read the conditions carefully before choosing to enroll.
Live Session or Self-Paced SAT Prep Course?
Unless you have a busy schedule at school or live outside the US, a live session course is always preferable to a self-paced one.
You will be able to ask and answer questions, communicate with other students, and, most importantly, follow the optimal schedule designed by your instructor.
Next, which live session course should you choose?
According to the course outline, an 8-week course will add two more review sessions. The instructor will solidify the concepts and review all strategies.
I don’t think you need an 8-week course, as it only adds a review course. Moreover, it is more expensive per hour (a 6-week course costs $11, which is cheaper than an 8-week course that costs $15.)
Thus, if you take the 6-week course and review everything on your own, you will be fine.
If possible, I recommend taking the course with Dr. Shaan himself, especially those with low SAT scores.
Unlike other tutors who might score well on the first attempt, Dr. Shaan improved his score by 640 points, which is the highest that I have ever heard. Thus, he might be able to help those with low scores.
Prep Expert provides examples of each course option for you to grasp the experience. Please click the button below to view your preferred course.
Pros and Cons of Prep Expert
- Learn online from the best tutors
- The schedule is adequately intensive but not cumbersome.
- Students can select instructors and class times that fit their schedule.
- Excellent and well-structured curriculum
- Useful tips, techniques, and strategies for the test
- Students will complete as many as six full-length practice tests
- 200+ points guarantee for live session courses, which is among the highest in the industry
- Overall excellent SAT prep course
- Some reviewers noted that the refund process is “difficult.”
- The quality of the live online classes depends on the instructors. Some can fall below the standard.
- Unsuitable for high school students with busy schedules
- Both live sessions and self-study courses are expensive compared to other alternatives.
- The self-study course only guarantees that your score will improve, while others, such as PrepScholar, ensure as much as a 160-point score increase.
From an overall perspective, Prep Expert is one of the best SAT online prep courses. The curriculum is intense, which will push you to the limit. However, if you can complete it, I am sure you will get a good score the next time you take the SAT.
Note: A similar course is also sold by Kranse Institute, an exclusive distributor of Prep Expert’s SAT video courses.
Kaplan is one of the largest test prep companies. Their curriculum probably covers every test in the United States. Many college students, including me, once took Kaplan courses or used Kaplan materials to prepare for college admissions.
Kaplan instructors will teach in a different style. You will learn SAT concepts from the conversational approach.
In other words, instructors will use animation, motion graphics, music, and many others, which is more engaging than in traditional prep classes that you stare blankly at the whiteboard.
SAT On Demand
SAT On Demand is the most affordable course in the Kaplan SAT curriculum. You will practice for the SAT mostly on your own by watching videos created by instructors.
Here is what you will get from this course:
- 50 bite-sized video lessons to help you prepare for the SAT
- 1,000 quizzes and practice questions + video solutions
- Higher score guarantee
- 6-month access
Enrolling in this course would cost you $199.
Live Online is a live online SAT prep course for high school students from Kaplan. According to Kaplan, one instructor will lead the class, while others will answer questions on private or group chat.
In addition to live instructions, you can access on-demand videos as well. These videos are more than 16 hours long and teach you various concepts and strategies to take the test with ease.
In summary, this is what you get from the course:
- 18 hours of live instructions
- 16 hours of pre-recorded video lessons
- Eight practice tests (4 are official practice exams from the College Board)
- 1,000+ practice questions
- 4 Kaplan SAT prep books
This program costs $699, which is $200 cheaper than the Princeton Review (at the same hours of live instructions.) You can also access 3 hours of 1-on-1 tutoring by upgrading your course to Live Online Plus for an extra $300. However, I don’t think this is necessary.
Unlimited Prep is designed for students who want more assistance from experts than what the Live Online course provides. In this course, you will be able to join any live prep class you want for one year.
What you get from this prep course is almost similar to the Live Online course. However, in addition to unlimited classes, you will also get access to the SAT On Demand course too.
The pricing for the course is $1,299. You can pay an extra $400 to access 4 hours of 1-on-1 tutoring by Kaplan experts.
SAT Tutoring is the ultimate package for the SAT provided by Kaplan. You will get private, 1-on-1 tutoring with the best of Kaplan instructors.
You can select how many hours you want, starting from 10 hours to 40 hours of private tutoring. You can also get access to these features.
- Full Live Online Course (Another 18 hours of instruction)
- Four full-length SAT practice tests with analysis
- 2 Kaplan prep books and online practice questions
- Other exclusive resources from your instructor
You will also get a customized curriculum, as the instructor will take your learning style, specific needs, and other factors into account.
The pricing starts at $1,999 for 10 hours and could be as high as $4,599 or 40 hours of SAT tutoring.
Kaplan SAT Prep Pros and Cons
- Various options for SAT prep courses
- Experienced and Excellent instructors with an engaging teaching approach
- Flawless prep books
- Fairly-priced SAT On Demand and Live Online courses
- Unlimited SAT prep classes available
- 1-on-1 tutoring is expensive
- Fewer practice tests despite paying more
- Guarantee only a higher score but not a point score improvement
- Some practice questions on the course material are too easy.
- SAT On Demand has shorter access than other competitors
Bottom line: Kaplan offers innovative SAT training for students. Both instructors and course materials are excellent. However, the company is not generous with the guarantee and practice tests, which do not meet expectations.
Kaplan offers a free trial on both the SAT On Demand and Live Online courses.
6. Khan Academy (Free SAT Test Prep)
Khan Academy, in collaboration with the College Board, provides free SAT prep for all students. Many may think this course may be short without any actual teaching.
It is not. This SAT preparation course has numerous videos, tips, readings, quizzes, and as many as ten practice tests (ironically more than a paid Kaplan course) to help you in the SAT. You can even get a personalized practice recommendation from the Collegeboard!
All of these are 100% of the charge. Just log in, and then you can take the diagnostic test and begin the learning immediately!
I don’t see any other free resources that could match this full course from Khan Academy, unarguably the best SAT prep course you can take for free.
Tips on Selecting the Best SAT Prep Courses
Above are the best SAT prep courses that I could find. However, I think there are other SAT prep tips that you should know before enrolling in any course.
Money-back guarantee is one of the most problematic issues in this industry. If you read through the reviews, problems about this guarantee alone lead to thousands of complaints.
The primary reason is that not everyone is eligible to receive a full refund back. You have to meet specific requirements, such as completing all video lessons, practice tests, and many more.
Unfortunately, many students never read and ended up receiving no refunds, leading them to complain all over the internet.
Thus, before enrolling in any SAT prep course, make sure you read these conditions very carefully.
Still, sometimes it is too difficult to meet the refund requirements. Hence, you should not spend too much of your time trying to do so, especially if the test day is upcoming.
Also, don’t forget that you have to deal with other parts of the application. Candidates who manage their time well will win the admission race.
Always remember your ultimate goal.
What Type of Courses Should I Take?
Many are confused about which type of SAT prep courses they should take, as there are as many as three types available.
I think the answer depends on your learning style and many other factors, including budget.
I am not a fan of live classes or 1-on-1 tutoring, as I never like the “classroom” environment where I sit under pressure in front of the whiteboard. Thus, I will always select a self-paced course.
Nevertheless, many others got a much higher SAT score after receiving guidance from an experienced SAT tutor. You could be one of them too.
If you believe that this option is optimal, and will not be your financial burden, do not hesitate to take it.
Finally, I hope everyone does well on the SAT.