What to Look for in a SAT Prep Course or Service

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You need to perform well in the SAT exam to have your pick of colleges and universities. But where do you start?

The SAT is a competitive exam. Millions of high school students throughout the country take the exam every year before pursuing higher education.

And since college and university admissions mostly depend on SAT scores of the applicants, it’s vital to devise a strategy that puts focus on your strengths and weaknesses at balance.

By planning and setting a practical SAT study schedule, you can stand on top of your goals and put yourself on track for stellar test results. Here’s how you can determine the right SAT prep course.

What Are Your SAT Prep Options?

One of the SAT prep challenges you’ll face is figuring out what study schedule works for you and will best prepare you to succeed. An SAT study plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy, so what works for your classmates or friends might not work for you.

Before deciding on a study plan, consider your preferences, SAT goals, and resources. In general, start your preparation early. Three months before the exam should give you enough time to try a few study approaches and get comfortable with the test content.

There Are Different SAT Study Approaches:

SAT Prep Apps

With every lesson in the palm of your hand, you can prepare and track your test progress from anywhere.

Note, while most apps are free, some cost money to use. Also, if you’re struggling with a particular SAT section, there are apps customized to specific subjects, such as math.

SAT Books

Books are excellent SAT study materials as they provide in-depth details on each SAT section in a thorough, engaging, and helpful way. They also offer a great place to get your strategy set for test day, and some books even contain practice tests too.

SAT Tutors

SAT tutors, whether private or working directly for a test-prep company, have systems to help students manage study time wisely.

To make the most of your tutor, take a practice test and let the instructor review your preliminary scores—this approach will help you determine areas you need to focus more time on.

Unlike SAT courses, a tutor will help you with the subjects you’re struggling with. For example, if a particular section confuses you, the tutor will identify your weakness and help you improve.

SAT Prep Courses

SAT prep courses are one of the best ways to prepare for the SAT exam. Enrolling in an SAT course can help you increase test scores significantly.

You can also join study groups, which allow you to share viewpoints on a variety of subjects about the test and discuss strategies with fellow students. Exposure to different perspectives can help trigger the comprehension of hard to understand concepts.

Here are some common benefits of SAT prep courses:

  • Supervised studying allows you to focus on weaker areas
  • Teaches test-taking skills and strategies
  • You learn how to study efficiently
  • Help improve your confidence about the exam
  • Score improvements of 30 to 100 points

Is Paid Better Than Free?

Not everyone can afford a paid SAT course. Luckily, there are many free SAT prep resources, giving students effective ways of preparing for the SAT without spending a dime. And many students are using these free programs.

If you’re looking for in-person instruction, you can take advantage of free math, reading, and writing classes offered by many libraries, colleges, and universities. For example, the University of California, Berkely, University of Chicago, The University of Texas at Dallas, and the San Francisco Public Library all offer free SAT prep classes.

But if you can’t find a free in-person prep class, ask your counselor, search online, or check out whether your local library or university has any programs.

Remember, if you can’t afford to pay for SAT prep courses, it shouldn’t discourage you from preparing for the test. Just because a study program is payable doesn’t assure acing the exam, even if it’s expensive.

Warning Signs for a Bad Paid SAT Prep Course

Before registering for paid SAT prep courses, ensure you investigate the effectiveness of the test-prep company and research its history and customer satisfaction. Here are some bad SAT preparation strategies. If your course does these, it might not be the right one for you:

  • Unqualified Tutors: You should check the tutors’ credentials. Additionally, confirm they’re qualified and have the education and SAT scores to prove they’re worth your time and money.
  • Lack of Accountability: Every tutor should care about helping students succeed.
  • Not Teaching Strategy: When coaching on different topics, tutors should also focus on test-taking strategies.

The SAT can be stressful. A few hundred points may be all that’s standing between you and landing that full-ride scholarship or qualifying for a top-tier college.

As well, picking a great SAT prep course can be overwhelming. With all of the different SAT prep courses and services available, you should do the proper legwork to choose the most reputable test-prep service.

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