The 4 Best SAT Prep Courses To Take (2019)

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The 4 Best SAT Prep Courses To Take - featured graphic

 

A great SAT score is a crucial component of a successful college application.

 

And to maximize your chances of success, you’ll need to invest in one of the best online prep courses.

 

In this list, I included the top four picks for your consideration. They all come from reliable, well-established companies you can depend on to deliver a great service.

 

As you’ll see, some of them even guarantee that you’ll get a great score – or your money back. This makes for a risk-free service combined with thorough preparation.

 

The highest score on the three-hour-long test is 1600 and the average score achieved by students is 1068 (531 for Math and 536 for Reading and Writing).

 

But you’ll need around 1250 points to find yourself in the top fifth of the test takers and raise your chances of getting into a dream college.

 

 A score of 1200+ is enough for the majority of colleges , but you’ll need much more if you’re applying to top schools like MIT or Johns Hopkins. And of course, your grades play a big role here as well.

 

As you know, the competition for spots in top colleges is fierce, so you need the best way to prepare for the test.

 

With that being said, let’s take a look at the winners in this SAT course comparison:

 

#1 Course – SAT Ultimate from Princeton Review (You can now get $150 off your course)

#2 Course – Magoosh 12 Month Self-Paced Course (You can now get $20 off your course)

#3 Course – Kaplan Live Online (You can now get $249 off your course)

#4 Course – Khan Academy Official Practice (Best free course option)

 

Table of contents:

 

 

How this SAT prep course list was compiled

 

There are over a dozen prep courses available online and it’s not easy to make up your mind about which one is best.

 

Lucky for you I scanned the marketplace for  highest-quality affordable options  (that also offer significant discounts for students).

 

I checked the reviews, student forums, message boards, and comparisons and came up with the four companies. Each of them offers several SAT course packages in different price ranges.

 

The live-online courses are the most expensive but provide the highest quality prep. They’re followed by more affordable self-prep options. And in the end, I also included a free course for those on a tight budget.

 

Some of the options that didn’t quite make the list are Testive, PrepScholar, ePrep, CollegeVine, Kranse Institute, and Private Prep.

 

woman studying with laptop

 

A side by side comparison between the top SAT prep courses

 

Princeton Review Ultimate SAT CourseMagoosh 12 Month Self-Paced CourseKaplan Live OnlineKhan Academy Official Practice
PriceCheck the price here ($150 discount available)Check the price here ($20 discount available)Check the price here ($249 discount available)Free course
Live classroom time18 hours0h – fully self-paced18 hours0h – fully self-paced
BooksYes, 3 books included with the courseNo books – fully online-basedYes, 2 books included with the courseNo books – fully online-based
Full-length online practice testsYes, 3 scheduled, proctored practice tests + 19 additional testsYes, 3 practice tests generated from the pool of 1500 practice questionsYes, 4 proctored practice tests + 4 additional testsYes, 8 full-length practice tests
On-demand instructional videos140+ instructional SAT videos200+ videos40 hours of on-demand lessonsYes, dozens of instructional videos
Practice questions with explanations240 online drills + 2000+ practice questions1500+ practice questionsYesYes
GuaranteeYes, higher score guarantee (1240+ and 1400+ guarantees with premium courses)Yes, 100 point improvement on your previous score (or your money back).Yes, higher score guaranteeNo guarantee
Email assistanceYes, technical assistanceYes, prep assistance within 2 working daysYes, technical assistanceNo assistance
Mobile learning appYes – Parent Portal + Student PortalYesYesYes
Personalized study planYesNoNoNo
Progress tracking and reportsYesYesYesYes

 

#1 SAT Prep Course – Princeton Review Ultimate SAT Course

 

the princeton review logo

 

Princeton Review is one of the top test prep companies in the world. They consistently deliver high-quality services and their courses are backed by a strong guarantee.

 

They offer multiple online SAT course options each of which serves a specific need. The most popular option among students is the “Ultimate Classroom” course which is affordable for most students. It costs around $799 (if you apply a discount) but at the same time, you’ll get 18 hours of live instruction time as well as other materials.

 

By signing up for the course, you will get access to an online platform that will act as the headquarters for your prep. This means you will do your studies from the comfort of your home and attend regular 3-hour long classes.

 

 There are 18 hours of live online instruction in total.  During classes, expert tutors will provide you with advice and solid strategies for passing the test.

 

The great thing is that you can enroll even before the course officially starts and already gain access to your study materials.

 

Once the course begins, you will receive a personalized study plan based on your starting score, your goals, and how much time you have before the test day. This is great because it gives you a deadline and a specific framework to work with during your study sessions.

 

And the course is packed with amazing materials. These include 3 proctored practice tests that will enable you to gain real-world experience before the actual test day. You will also get 19 additional full-length practice tests to complete in your spare time. That’s more than enough to get a great score.

 

Princeton Review also has a great mobile app that will let you track your scores and know exactly where you need to improve. There’s also the “parent portal” which allows parents to easily track how their children progress with the prep.

 

The most popular “live online” course comes with a regular higher score guarantee. It means that if you don’t improve on your previous SAT score, you can get your money back or take the whole course again at no additional cost.

 

But there are other options that offer an even stronger guarantee. They are a bit more pricey but you can recoup the money later by applying for merit-based scholarships in college.

 

The first of the higher priced options is SAT 1240+. Yes, the promise is that you will get at least 1240 points or you get your money back.

 

There’s also the 1400+ option that costs almost twice as much as the regular “Ultimate” course but guarantees 1400+ points with just two months of study. This is a perfect option for students who apply to the top 30 universities in the country.

 

Other course options:

 

 

Here are all the features of the course at a glance:

 

Princeton Review Ultimate SAT Course
PriceCheck the price here ($150 discount available)
Live classroom time18 hours
BooksYes, 3 books included with the course
Full-length online practice testsYes, 3 scheduled, proctored practice tests + 19 additional tests
On-demand instructional videos140+ instructional SAT videos
Practice questions with explanations240 online drills + 2000+ practice questions
GuaranteeYes, higher score guarantee (1240+ and 1400+ guarantees with premium courses)
Email assistanceYes, technical assistance
Mobile learning appYes – Parent Portal + Student Portal
Personalized study planYes
Progress tracking and reportsYes

 

 

#2 SAT Prep Course – Magoosh 12 Month Self-Paced Course

 

magoosh logo

 

The second course on this list comes from Magoosh, a young company which made a big splash in the test prep industry.

 

I included it here not only because it’s great, but also because it’s more affordable than other courses. In other words, it’s perfect for students on a tight budget.

 

Usually, the course costs only $99 for 12-month access to the materials (but you can get a discount of around $20). This is great if you want to save a bit of money and study over a longer period.

 

Of course, the Magoosh SAT course is self-paced which means you won’t be able to get live instructions and real-time guidance from teachers. You’ll need to muster enough self-discipline to study on your own.

 

Fortunately, the designers of the course took this into account. By signing up, you’ll get access to an online dashboard with your study plan and the results you’ve achieved. It will even show you how you compare to other students taking the course, which is a great motivator.

 

This course is fully based online which means you won’t get any printed materials. Recently, Magoosh released its own ACT book which you can grab from Amazon, but there’s no SAT book available as of today.

 

This shouldn’t bother you too much, however, because the whole idea of the course is to make it mobile.  The Magoosh app (available both on iOS and Android) is fantastic , and it allows you to crunch practice questions while on the go. That’s great for modern students who don’t want to spend hours pouring over books.

 

But there’s another reason why this course made the list. It has one of the most powerful guarantees, especially for a lower-end service like this.

 

By signing up you’re guaranteed to improve your previous SAT score by at least 100 points. That’s bold. Moreover, you have a 7-day money back guarantee, so you can test the service without taking too much risk.

 

The service offers lots of study materials. You will get access to over 1500 practice questions, 200 instructional videos, and up to 3 full-length practice tests. Each practice question comes with a short video explanation that gives a reason why the answer is correct.

 

Another great thing is that you get access to email support so if you don’t understand something you can ask an expert for an explanation.

 

Of course, it’s not the same as receiving live instruction from a tutor, but you will get a response within 1 or 2 working days which is still fine.

 

What students love most about this course is the timed quiz mode. It allows you to complete practice questions in a time-constrained environment which resembles the real test. By practicing with a timer, you can see if you have enough time to answer all the questions when it comes to the real-world test.

 

All in all, it’s the best course in the budget category and pupils have had great success with it. Some of them improved their previous SAT score by more than 200 points.

 

Other course options:

 

There’s a 1-month access option and a 3-month access option. They are just a little bit cheaper than the 12-month but offer the same basic features.

 

Here are all the features of the course at a glance:

 

Magoosh 12 Month Self-Paced Course
PriceCheck the price here ($20 discount available)
Live classroom time0h – fully self-paced
BooksNo books – fully online-based
Full-length online practice testsYes, 3 practice tests generated from the pool of 1500 practice questions
On-demand instructional videos200+ videos
Practice questions with explanations1500+ practice questions
GuaranteeYes, 100 point improvement on your previous score (or your money back).
Email assistanceYes, prep assistance within 2 working days
Mobile learning appYes
Personalized study planNo
Progress tracking and reportsYes

 

 

#3 SAT Prep Course – Kaplan Live Online

 

 

kaplan logo

 

Kaplan is the oldest test prep company in the world and it provides prep courses for almost 100 years. Their SAT course is quite similar to what you would get from the Princeton Review.

 

The most popular option is the live online one. It’s priced at around $899 but often you can get a solid discount of even $200 (you need to enter a promo code from the website).

 

Just like with Princeton Review, there are several other course options to explore. You can get the “unlimited prep”, which allows you to take extra courses for ACT and PSAT.

 

Then there’s the “tutoring” option where you’re able to work one on the one the with a tutor at home or online. Understandably, this option is the priciest and costs over $2,000.

 

In this review, we will focus on the “live online” option which in my opinion gives you the best value for your money. The bundle includes  18 hours of live online instruction , as well as 40 hours of on-demand video lessons.

 

This is more video material then you will get with any other course, so it’s a great option if you’re a visual learner.

 

Moreover, you will get two SAT prep books which always receive positive reviews from students and teachers alike. These written materials contain extra practice questions and give you access to a few full-length practice tests.

 

But just by logging into an online dashboard, you will be able to access 8 full-length practice tests, including four official ones prepared by the College Board itself.

 

You can also select the “live online plus” option which is around $300 more expensive. In return, you will get 3 hours of one-to-one coaching as well as access to some extra math materials and ACT prep resources.

 

Like with the other courses on this list, you can also study with a mobile app. This app is actually great because it gives you access to full course features.

 

In other words, your phone or tablet can become a classroom wherever you are. If you want, you can even attend the live classes with your mobile device which is fantastic if you’re always on the go.

 

One area where this course falls short compared to Princeton Review is the guarantee. Yes, there is a higher score guarantee which means that if you don’t improve on your previous score you will get your money back.

 

But there is no stronger guarantee of getting 1240+ or 1400+ points on your SAT.

 

This plays a big role if you plan to apply to some of the top colleges in the country. If you must get a certain score, I would go with Princeton Review.

 

But overall, the Kaplan course is great as it goes through all the areas required to pass the test with flying colors. It also has the best instructors among all the courses listed here.

 

Other course options:

 

There is the Live Online PLUS option where you get 3 hours of one-to-one coaching as well as extra materials for the math section and the ACT.

 

Here are all the features of the course at a glance:

 

Kaplan Live Online
PriceCheck the price here ($299 discount available)
Live classroom time18 hours
BooksYes, 2 books included with the course
Full-length online practice testsYes, 4 proctored practice tests + 4 additional tests
On-demand instructional videos40 hours of on-demand lessons
Practice questions with explanationsYes
GuaranteeYes, higher score guarantee
Email assistanceYes, technical assistance
Mobile learning appYes
Personalized study planNo
Progress tracking and reportsYes

 

 

#4 SAT Prep Course – Khan Academy Official Practice

 

khan academy

 

In this review, I wanted to include a course you can get for free. That’s because not all the students have the money to pay for SAT prep.

 

That’s where Khan Academy comes in. It allows you to access tons of materials and all you need to do is to sign up and create an account on their website.

 

It’s similar to Magoosh because it’s based online, and doesn’t provide you with any written materials. But it doesn’t mean it’s a low-quality course at all.

 

After signing up you will take a diagnostic SAT. Based on your score you’re the receive a tailored practice plan that will allow you to focus on the areas you need to improve.

 

Moreover, you will gain access to  8 full-length practice tests  created along with the College Board, which is the official partner of the Khan Academy.

 

On their website, Khan Academy claims that 20 hours of practice with their materials will on average improve your SAT score by 115 points. That’s quite a bold claim!

 

The course is divided into a couple of sections. There are the full-length SATs, the math practice, the reading, and writing practice, as well as SAT tips and strategies which will enable you to master the test.

 

What’s more, you will be able to watch over twenty great, on-demand instructional videos produced by some of the best tutors in the industry. You don’t have to set up an account to watch them as they’re available on the Khan Academy SAT YouTube channel.

 

And just like with other courses you can grab a mobile app that will enable you to study on the go. It’s one of the best educational apps in the digital marketplace, so you should download it even if you go with another a course from this list.

 

Again, this is a great option if you’re on a tight budget and still want to get access to study materials that will raise your previous score by around 100 points.

 

Here are all the features of the course at a glance:

 

Khan Academy Official Practice
PriceFree course
Live classroom time0h – fully self-paced
BooksNo books – fully online-based
Full-length online practice testsYes, 8 full-length practice tests
On-demand instructional videosYes, dozens of instructional videos
Practice questions with explanationsYes
GuaranteeNo guarantee
Email assistanceNo assistance
Mobile learning appYes
Personalized study planNo
Progress tracking and reportsYes

 

 

The best books to grab for SAT prep

 

Most of the premium courses from this list already include one or two books you will receive by mail on sign up. But you can also buy some books on your own as they’ll give your SAT prep a significant boost.

 

These books are available online and usually, cost between $15 and $30. This is much less than what you would pay for a full-length course. It’s a great option for students who want to supplement their study time with extra materials.

 

What’s great about SAT books is that they almost always give you access to online materials such as practice questions, study plans and even full-length practice tests you can complete from the comfort of your own home.

 

Here are some of the top SAT prep books for your consideration:

 

1. The Official SAT Study Guide, 2018 Edition (Official Study Guide for the New Sat)

 

The Official SAT Study Guide, 2018 Edition (Official Study Guide for the New Sat)

 

This is the best selling SAT guide designed by the College Board itself. It will help you to review all skills and question types required to get a high score.

 

The best thing about this book is that it gives you access to 8 practice tests identical to what you can expect from the real world exam. The book is 1280 pages long and offers lots of explanations.

 

2. Cracking the SAT Premium Edition with 8 Practice Tests, 2019: The All-in-One Solution for Your Highest Possible Score

 

Cracking the SAT Premium Edition with 8 Practice Tests, 2019

 

This book comes from the Princeton Review and offers some of the best SAT strategies available. It also includes 8 full-length practice tests (4 in the book and 4 online) as well as extra tips that will raise your score.

 

Inside this 848 pages long book you will find detailed explanations and examples as well as access to videos and a special essay section.

 

3. SAT Prep Plus 2019: 5 Practice Tests + Proven Strategies + Online

 

SAT Prep Plus 2019 5 Practice Tests + Proven Strategies + Online

 

This study guide is produced by Kaplan. It’s updated every year, so it contains the most up-to-date information. Basically, it’s a 960-page mammoth packed with useful information.

 

It contains more than 1400 practice questions as well as some amazing online materials. These include 650 additional practice questions, timed quizzes, and 15 video lessons.

 

4. SAT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective SAT Strategies Ever Published

 

SAT Prep Black Book The Most Effective SAT Strategies Ever Published

 

This is a secret weapon of many students who are preparing for the test. It’s written by Mike Barrett, one of the best paid SAT tutors with years of experience in the education industry.

 

Inside you can find 4 practice tests as well as over 600 walk-throughs to real SAT questions from the College Board. But the true strength of this book lies in the “insider” strategies that will enable you to crush the test and go full Ivy League.

 

woman sitting with a laptop on a sofa

 

Bonus section – SAT Prep Course FAQ

 

After absorbing the information above you probably have a few questions about prep courses in general. I’ll do my best to answer the most popular ones below.

 

1. How important is the higher score guarantee?

 

The highest score guarantee is uber-important. First, it’s a way in which the company shows that they have confidence in their study materials and are willing to put the money on the line.

 

Second, it’s a way for you to decrease the risk associated with the transaction. If you don’t achieve a higher score, you can count on getting your money back or taking the whole course again at no cost.

 

So yes, you should definitely take a look at the guarantee when choosing your SAT course. Some companies only offer a “higher score” guarantee. Others promise a specific improvement in score (for example 100 points), or a specific score like 1240+ or 1400+.  The more specific the guarantee, the better. 

 

2. How much time do you need to fully prepare for the SAT?

 

It all depends on your unique situation. If you had great grades in high school and your GPA is top of the class, you won’t have to worry about getting a super high score on the SAT.

 

But if you were lagging behind and only now you are waking up, you will need to work longer and harder on your prep.

 

On average 3 to 4 months of around 4 hour study time per day should be enough to obtain a score of at least 1100. This time frame reflects the length of most of the online courses.

 

Fortunately, you can take the SAT a couple of times in high school so you will know exactly where you need to improve.

 

3. Can you get a discount on any of the courses from this list?

 

Definitely yes. The SAT prep companies constantly run promotions that allow you to shave $20 or even $300 from the original price tag.

 

Most of the time, you will need to enter a special code which acts as a discount coupon to get the lower price. I found that to a varying degree these discounts are available almost all year long with occasional higher discounts on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.

 

4. How long is the SAT?

 

The SAT is 3 hours long. To that, you can add 50 minutes for the essay part (which is optional). There’s also 15 minutes for breaks in between different sections.

 

The test costs $46 ($60 if you’re taking the essay) and it’s administered seven times a year.

 

5. What are the sections of the test?

 

There are four sections, and the courses presented in this review will prepare you for all of them.

 

  • Reading – 65 minutes – 52 questions
  • Writing and Language – 35 minutes – 44 questions
  • Math – 80 minutes – 58 questions
  • Essay (optional) – 50 minutes – 1 question

 

In total, we’re looking at 180 min (230 min with essay) and 154 questions + essay.

 

The essay is optional because now only 25 colleges and universities require that you take it.

 

6. What is a good SAT score?

 

Anything above 1250 points is considered a great score and should get you in the majority of colleges around the US. But note that the SAT score itself is not the only factor that counts for the college application process.

 

The other factors to take into consideration are courses taken, grades received, class rank, extracurricular activities, interviews, and of course, the personal statements and essays.

 

7. When is the best time to take the SAT?

 

I wrote the whole article about when to take both SAT and ACT. I recommend you check it out.

 

8. What are some other ways to prepare for the SAT?

 

The best way to go about your prep is to take a course that will give you a personalized study plan, homework to complete, along with detailed reports and scorecards.

 

But there are some other ways to study as well. You should definitely check some of the best SAT books I mentioned in this review. They all serve as extra materials you can call on wherever you’re stuck or bored with other methods of study.

 

There are also some great YouTube videos from students who already took the course and can give you some tips. You can also study with, flashcards or download one of many mobile apps with free practice questions. But to be honest, nothing beats completing practice tests with a timer on.

 

Conclusion

 

As you can see, there are many excellent SAT courses out there. You can pick and choose depending on your budget and your preparation timeline. The overall investment in education is going to pay off one way or the other.

 

By taking a decent course, you will increase the likelihood of you getting into the top college. In turn, this will translate into higher earnings after your graduation.

 

The cost of each course is minuscule compared to the average college tuition, so it’s important to  pay a little bit up front and reap the rewards in the future. 

 

I hope that this comparison was helpful and that it will allow you to make up your mind and ultimately improve your results on the test.

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4 thoughts on “The 4 Best SAT Prep Courses To Take (2019)”

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