What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

ACT/SAT Prep

Our counselors answered:

What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

Jessica Brondo
Founder and CEO The Edge in College Prep

What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

There are many different test prep methods, and while they vary in cost, type, and effectiveness, there is not just one way to study for the SAT. Some students do well with the least expensive option: studying from a test book. While for others this does not produce results because they need motivation from an instructor or tutor. For students needing an extra push, the next level of test prep would be an online course and then the more expensive options are in-person classes and private tutoring.

Helen Cella

What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

Some are better than others....practice, practice, practice

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Test Prep Works If You Do the Work

The obvious advantage of test prep is improved scores, but other pros include increased comfort with test format and content, decreased test anxiety, and enhanced content-area knowledge. Test prep isn’t magic, though: It only works when students put in the time and effort. While some diligent students are dedicated enough to prepare on their own for a minimal cost (under $50), others need the instruction and accountability of a structured program. The more personalized and time-intensive the program, the more it will cost. Online classes can be found for a couple hundred dollars, and traditional classes typically cost $600-$1,000, while private tutoring can cost several thousand dollars. Don’t be fooled by “bargains”: Ask around for recommendations and seek out experienced SAT/ACT prep instructors.

Patricia Aviezer
President Inside Track To College, Inc.

So many choices, so little time...

Yes, getting familiar with the style, content, flow and timing of these tests will help you score your best, but what type of test preparation will work best for you? Other factors to consider with any option is cost factor, time management, target date for testing and scheduling. Let's discuss some options... 1. Preparing on your own-meaning you purchase a book, DVD or gather materials from "free resources" to prepare. Only try this one, if you're self-motivated, disciplined, organized and able to develop an individualized study plan over time. 2. Purchasing an online study program with feedback and remediation available 24/7-some of these programs are very powerful and if USED can raise your scores. My experience with this, works for about 40% of students who subscribe to these services. 3. Group SAT/ACT Prep classes-you need a structured classroom setting with a teacher in the room and the cost seems more economical. Downside here is there are 25 other students taking the class who are all at different levels of performance and the curriculum is standardized so you're sitting through 6 hours of lessons in areas that won't bring your scores up further. 4. Private one-on-one instruction-Cost factor here can be upwards of $100-$200 per hour and you'll need 8-16 hours of instruction. And where did you get the recommendation for this person from? Make sure you're provided with recommendations and that you follow up on them. Set up an interview to see what the "tutor's style" and expectations are to see if this is a good fit for you.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

Everyone's learning style is different. While some students are disciplined enough to study independently, others need the strong arm of a tutor or test prep service to keep them focused. How much money you spend on these options depends where you live, how long the course is, and who is providing the instruction.

Ted Skowron
Counselor Brophy College Preparatory

What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

If you have the motivation, time, and money for a prep course it will only help you. It will give you both strategies to attack the test and also practice time on the test, and both of these will bolster confidence. Often, local community colleges offer reasonable test prep courses. The cost and time commitment are two considerations when choosing a test prep provider.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

There are basically 3 ways students can prepare for standardized tests. 1. They can buy a study book and work through it on their own. This is the least expensive method (30 dollars), but is also the least effective for most students. 2. Students can take a course with other students. This will provide structured overview of the test and general strategies. It can cost anywhere from 500 to 1500 dollars, but will be impersonal and therefore inefficient. 3. Private tutoring is the usually the best way to prepare. It will be the most expensive, costing between 100 and 400 dollars an hour based an the level of expertise and experience of the tutor, but will be the most effective, efficient and convenient way to prepare. I recommend some amount of private tutoring for almost all of my clients.

Ronald Harris

What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

The biggest advantage to test prep is improved scores, but no method of preparation is magic. The higher your test scores are the more scholarship offers you are eligible to receive. The con to SAT/ACT prep is the cost. It is very expensive to take a prep course, however there are many sites that offer free testing prep.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

Private: Pros- Personalized to you. Typically doesn't involve "upselling" of private label products. Cons- Typically more expensive. You don't know what you are getting. Buyer beware and make sure you do your research. Name Brand: Pros- More affordable. Reliable and usually options close to home. Cons- Will often try to sell you products. Group setting means less personal. Books/Websites: Pros- Cheap, or free. Use at your own pace. Cons- Requires you to be accountable to yourself. Before picking any model, look at your budget, options available and what you really need help with. Need to brush up on some vocab and math formulas, don't shell out thousands of dollars for help. However, if you need to drastically improve your score, put in the hard work and get someone who can really help.

Henry DelAngelo
High School Counselor 20 + years Your Key to College

What are the pros, cons, and costs of various SAT and ACT prep methods?

Prep on your own is the most cost effective; being disciplined enough to consistently take time to prepare is difficult. Taking a test prep class can be expensive but it will give you insight to the questions and will keep you on track. Individual tutoring can cost a bit less if you can pin point areas you need to focus.