The 10 Best In-Person SAT Prep Programs
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Going to college can be really exciting. If you are approaching college, you have a lot on your plate, and the SAT might be one of those things taking up your time and even stressing you out. The SAT is required for admission to many colleges and universities, and can be really challenging and also very different from tests you are used to taking at school. Attending an SAT prep program can help you get comfortable with the exam, develop skills strategies, and ultimately increase your score. In-person SAT prep can be great for connecting with expert teachers and like-minded students as you study for this college entrance exam.
This article ranks the ten best in-person SAT prep programs and gives information to help you find an SAT prep option that’s right for you. Here’s all you need to know in order to find an in-person SAT prep program that works for you, if you think it’s an important next step in your college application journey.
What is the main purpose of the SAT?
The SAT is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. Once you apply to a college or university, people in the admissions department often look at these scores together with your transcript, essays, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of your application to decide whether or not you are a good fit and ready to pursue a degree at their school. You can score anywhere from a 400 to a 1600 on the SAT (the SAT scoring method is pretty complicated; if you plan to take the test, it’s worth studying up on, or asking your SAT instructor!), and the test is made up of Reading, Writing & Language, and Math, and includes an optional Essay section.
Is the SAT easier than the ACT?
The SAT and ACT are both similar and different. Both are college admissions tests, and most colleges will take your score from either test. If the colleges you are applying to will accept either score, you can take whichever exam you like, or even both! The SAT has three sections — Reading, Writing & Language, and Math — while the ACT has four sections — English, Math, Reading, and Science. The SAT allows you more time for each question than the ACT, and tests you on vocabulary, while the ACT doesn’t test you explicitly on vocabulary, but does test your scientific reasoning skills. Ultimately, the test or tests you should take comes down to you: your skills, your preferences, and your goals. Neither test is “easier,” so it’s worth taking some time to research both the SAT and ACT, look at sample questions from each exam, and think about your skills and preferences.
What is a good score on the SAT?
Many schools require a certain SAT score for admissions. Others don’t have a minimum requirement but will share their average acceptance score. Depending on the college you want to attend, you may need to take the SAT to get into school. Your SAT score can also determine the classes you take once you get to college: a low score might put you in remedial classes (which means more time and money to finish your degree), while a high score can earn you credit for certain core college classes, without having to take the class! SAT scores can also help you earn many merit-based scholarships and win scholarships from your school and other organizations. Whether you are looking to gain admission to your dream school, stay out of remedial classes, skip a few 101 courses during your first year of school, or earn a big scholarship, prepping for a higher SAT score can be beneficial, whether you have never seen the test before or have taken it several times and think you can still improve.
Is in-person SAT prep right for me?
Knowing where to start studying for the SAT can be an overwhelming question. Should you get a book? Enroll in an online course? Find a tutor who will come to your house? Just like deciding whether to take the SAT or ACT, the answers to these questions depend on you. In-person prep is likely a good fit for you if you enjoy learning around other people. Whether you thrive in a traditional classroom setting or learn well with a one-on-one tutor, in-person SAT prep programs give you face-to-face support as you prepare for the exam. This list includes a variety of in-person SAT prep options, so you can be sure to find the instructor and setting that fits you best.
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The following in-person SAT prep options were ranked based on quality of course, price, duration of course, and other extras like personalization, number of practice tests, accessibility, and point increase guarantees. However, it’s important to remember that “the best” SAT prep comes down to personal preference. Just because a course option is ranked higher on this list, doesn’t mean it’s the #1 course for you, so read through the list with your preferences and needs in mind.
1 Kaplan — SAT Prep
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Kaplan is a well-known educational resource company with a branch dedicated to test prep services. In addition to books, articles, and other information about the SAT and the college application process, Kaplan offers several SAT prep courses. Their in-person classes pair perfectly with their books and online resources, offering you a comprehensive test prep program.
Kaplan’s SAT Prep In-Person and SAT Prep In-Person PLUS courses can help you prepare for the SAT, with varying levels of support. With the In-Person course, you get eighteen hours of live classroom instruction, online video resources, proctored tests, additional practice tests, online quizzes, and SAT prep books. The In-Person PLUS course includes all of this, in addition to three hours of one-on-one coaching with an SAT expert, a Math Fundamentals course, and bonus ACT content. When you purchase either course, you are eligible to retake the class for free or get your money back if you are unhappy with your resulting SAT score.
Duration: Eight classes, number of weeks varies based on course
Price: Starting at $899 and $1,299
Recap: If you are looking for in-person SAT help and resources you can use from home, Kaplan’s in-person SAT Prep options have you covered.
2 The Princeton Review — SAT Prep
The Princeton Review offers a variety of college admissions services: everything from test prep to tutoring to admissions help to resource books. They also offer in-person and online courses in a number of subjects. All of their courses use their books and digital resources and are taught by expert instructors, giving you a rich classroom experience.
The Princeton Review has two in-person SAT Prep programs: the SAT Ultimate Classroom and SAT Private Tutoring. With Ultimate Classroom, their most popular SAT course, you get twenty-five hours of expert instruction with other classmates, as well as practice resources and access to the SAT Self-Paced online curriculum. If you choose SAT Private Tutoring at Princeton Review, you get eighteen one-on-one hours with a tutor, personalized guidance through the program, opportunities for parents to track progress, apps designed specifically for the program, SAT prep books, practice materials, as well as access to the Self-Paced online course. Both courses give you the chance to retake the course for free if you are not satisfied with your score improvement.
Duration: Varies based on course
Price: $1,099 or $3,000
Recap: If you want an in-person prep course with lots of online resources, Princeton Review has several options that could be a great fit as you prepare for the SAT.
3 Ivy Bound — SAT Test Prep
Ivy Bound is a test prep and academic tutoring agency with a number of in-person and online offerings. They strive to offer tutoring that that opens up a whole tier of colleges to students who take their courses, frequently resulting in $10,000+ scholarship awards for Ivy Bound students. Ivy Bound instructors are passionate, trained educators who have scored in the top 1% of the standardized tests that they teach.
Ivy Bound offers two in-person SAT courses, in addition to a one-on-one tutoring option. With the SAT Math & Verbal In-Person Class, you get twenty-five to thirty hours of class time, up to seven practice tests, supplemental printed materials, and optional SAT Essay Writing modules. The Speedy SAT In-Person Class is designed for students who don’t have much time to prep for the exam. With this course, you get over five hours of instruction, proctored practice tests, and optional SAT Essay Writing workshops. If you would prefer one-on-one tutoring, you can search Ivy Bound’s tutor database to find a tutor who fits what you are looking for. Ivy Bound offers a test score increase guarantee; if you don’t improve by at least 100 points on the SAT, you will get your money back.
Price: $150, $850, One-On-One Tutoring varies based on location and tutor
Recap: If you are looking for an SAT prep program that can help you improve your score and become an excellent candidate for universities that might not even feel possible to attend right now, Ivy Bound’s SAT Test Prep is worth checking out.
4 College Prep Genius — Master the SAT Bootcamp
College Prep Genius offers online and in-person SAT classes. Created by homeschool parent, Jean Burk, to help her own children raise their SAT scores and receive college scholarships, the College Prep Genius curriculum focuses on learning the patterns of the exam and gaining confidence through practice. The company’s eCourses and Bootcamps have seen students improve by as many as 600 points on the SAT.
College Prep Genius facilitates their course, Master the SAT Bootcamp, all over the US. On their website, you can register for a bootcamp, or, if you don’t see one in your location, host your own College Prep Genius class! The class teaches strategies and tips to raise your SAT score by hundreds of points and includes ten hours of instruction, the College Prep Genius Workbook, and access to their Fundamental eCourse. If you have a sibling who’s also prepping for the SAT or PSAT, there is a multiple student discount available.
Duration: Ten hours
Price: $295 live Bootcamp ($139 for online eCourse)
Recap: If you are looking for an SAT prep course that’s focused on getting you into college with scholarships ($$$), and that won’t take weeks and weeks to complete, look for (or host!) a College Prep Genius Master the SAT Bootcamp in your area.
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5 Applerouth — ACT
Applerouth offers academic services that are focused on helping individual students succeed on standardized tests. Their professional, expert staff applies the latest research in cognition, memory, and motivation to help students achieve awesome scores on standardized tests. Applerouth offers tutoring for a number of topics — from college and graduate exams to middle and high school subject areas.
Applerouth has three SAT prep routes for you to choose from: Group Class, Private Tutoring, and Signature Small Group. The Group Class has as many as eighteen students in a group and gives you twenty hours of instruction and three practice tests. With the Private Tutoring option, you get individual lessons with an instructor for ten, twenty, or thirty hours. Signature Small Group courses are made up of no more than eight students and are more interactive than the Group Classes. If you choose the Private Tutoring or Signature Small Group courses, you can take unlimited practice tests at Applerouth. Applerouth classes are designed to feel somewhat like college, so, as you study for the SAT, you can envision where your improved score will land you in the coming years.
Duration: Varies based on course
Price: $599, $1,300–$4,800, or $899
Recap: Applerouth offers you access to expert tutors and your choice of class size, all in a student-focused collegiate environment.
6 Saturday Academy — College Prep & Study Skills
Saturday Academy is a non-profit organization, affiliated with the University of Portland, whose mission is to engage all motivated young people, including those from under-represented communities, in hands-on, in-depth learning. Saturday Academy offers a number of classes, camps, and internships, including College Prep & Studies Skills classes that focus on college preparation and college admissions exams. Their classes emphasize following your curiosity, rather than getting bogged down in homework and tests. They offer financial aid options for their classes and internships.
Saturday Academy’s SAT Prep course focuses on learning powerful test-taking techniques and strategies for improving your score. Each section of the SAT is covered in the course, with a focus both on reviewing the basics and picking up more advanced skills that will help you score higher on the exam. They also offer subject-specific SAT courses: SAT Math Help and SAT Essay Help. SAT Prep courses are offered throughout the year at various locations in Portland, OR. However, if you don’t live close to Saturday Academy, never fear! You could apply for one of Saturday Academy’s many summer internships — available in everything from Android app development to studying freshwater mussels — and take the course while you are working on your internship.
Duration: Five weeks
Recap: Saturday Academy’s focus on hands-on, in-depth learning could turn boring old SAT prep into a fun, rewarding summer adventure. Check out their SAT Prep course, as well as their summer internships.
7 Education Unlimited — College Admission Prep Camp
Education Unlimited was founded in 1993 with the mission of giving every high school student the best possible chance of gaining acceptance into the college of their choice. The company’s summer program offerings have greatly expanded since then, but they continue to offer academic and artistic camps led by expert instructors. Last summer, over 1,000 students from across the country and around the globe attended Education Unlimited camps, held at universities around the US.
Education Unlimited’s College Admission Prep Camps is an eleven-day program that comprehensively prepares students for the college admissions process. The program includes an intensive focus on SAT prep. Campers complete fourty hours of supervised SAT prep and average a two-hundred point increase on the exam. While at College Admission Prep Camp, you will receive SAT workbooks, flashcards, and expert instruction, as well as coaching on how to write a personal statement and college counseling. Camp locations include UC Berkeley, Tufts, and UCLA.
Duration: Eleven days
Recap: If you have the time, the funds, and the ability to travel to one of Education Unlimited’s College Admission Prep Camps, what better place to study for the SAT than a university campus, surrounded by expert instructors and like-minded students?
8 Duke University — SAT Summer Boost
Durham, North Carolina
Duke University has a number of continuing studies programs, including lots of youth programs. Their summer camps focus on a variety of topics, including neuroscience, video production, writing, drones, leadership, and SAT prep. Depending on the camp, you can choose between day and overnight camps.
Duke’s SAT Summer Boost program focuses on all of the things you will need to do well on the SAT: test-taking techniques, time-management skills, logical reasoning, verbal ability, and mathematical competence. Review segments include writing, critical reading, sentence completion, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and grid-ins (mathematics formats that help you develop mathematical and reasoning ability). SAT Summer Boost also includes SAT essay writing practice, and you will receive feedback from experienced, expert staff. The camp also includes information about college admissions and financial aid.
Duration: Five days
Recap: Duke University’s SAT Summer Boost program gives you the opportunity to prep for the SAT on a college campus, with talented tutors and extra college admissions help.
9 Varsity Tutors — SAT Tutoring
Varsity Tutors is a technology and education company that connects students and tutors. The founder, Chuck Cohn, had both good and bad tutoring experiences in high school and is passionate about providing you with excellent private tutoring that will make a positive difference. Through their website, you can find a tutor who’s an expert in a specific subject area (Varsity Tutors specializes in test prep!) and meet with the tutor in-person to work through your customized study plan. Varsity Tutors also offer a tutor satisfaction guarantee, so that you can be confident you will get to work with a teacher who matches your needs and goals.
With lots of certified SAT tutors on the Varsity Tutors platform, you can connect with the tutor you would like to study with and request SAT prep with them. On the Varsity Tutors site, instructor profiles include information about the tutor’s teaching philosophy, personal test score, location, education, and hobbies. Depending on how much SAT prep you need, you can work with a tutor for twelve, twenty-four, thirty-six, or forty-eight hours, and Varsity Tutors offers a discount for purchasing more hours at a time. Varsity Tutors also has several free resources, including flashcards, practice tests, quizzes, and a mobile app, which you can access online or through their app, and also might be used by your tutor during your study sessions.
Duration: Varies based on your wants and needs
Price: Starting at $53/hour
Recap: If you want an in-home, one-on-one tutor, but aren’t sure who to hire, Varsity Tutors has a number of certified tutors, equipped with comprehensive resources, who can help you reach your SAT goals.
10 Thumbtack — SAT Tutoring
San Francisco, California
Thumbtack is about way more than education or test prep. They provide a platform that connects customers to qualified, local professionals. From dog training to house painting to dance lessons to SAT prep, Thumbtack lets you search for professionals who can meet your needs.
Thumbtack has a large database of SAT tutors in cities around the US, and you can find an instructor in your city by filling out a simple search form. Thumbtack will ask you for your grade, what test you are studying for, which sections you need help in, if you have scheduled a test date yet, your schedule and availability, your maximum budget, if you are ready to hire a tutor today or are just researching, where you would like to meet your tutor, and when you would like to start your tutoring sessions. After you complete the search survey, you can browse tutors in your area, and request quotes from the ones that you like. Tutor profiles include a bio, average response time, number of hires on Thumbtack, and reviews from other students.
Duration: Varies based on your wants and needs
Price: Varies by tutor
Recap: If you want to compare SAT tutors in your area, Thumbtack is a great place to start. Shop instructors with Thumbtack’s easy-to-use platform if you want to be sure you are working with someone who fits your price point and who’s helped other students achieve their SAT goals.
We all learn differently, so this list of in-person SAT prep services includes a wide variety of courses, tutors, and options to help you ace the SAT test. If you are thinking of taking the ACT, we have a summary of top in-person ACT prep services that you should read. And if you are looking for a college to attend, be sure to take a look at our 50 Best Online Colleges for 2019.
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