There are so many SAT and ACT test prep options today, how do you decide if you even need to take a prep course?  And if you do need to take a prep course, which one would best suits your particular needs?

The answer to the first question depends on two main factors: a) your initial test scores, and b) admissions requirements of the colleges you are interested in attending.

If you've never taken an actual SAT or ACT, then PSAT scores, or results obtained from official sample tests can provide a good indication of initial scores.

Next, you should select a number of colleges you would be interested in attending.  Check these colleges' admissions requirements.  You can contact the college's admissions office or consult their web site to obtain this information.  College reference guides can also provide useful statistical data.

If your initial scores indicate that you meet or exceed the college's admissions requirements, then an SAT or ACT prep course may not be necessary.

If, on the other hand, your initial scores are below those required by the colleges you're interested in, then you may wish to consider taking a prep course.

1) What are my prep options?

There are 5 ways to prep for your SAT's and ACT's.  These are: i) self-study, ii) automated online prep courses, iii) large group courses, iv) small group courses, and v) individual one-on-one courses.

2) Which option would work best for me?

Once again, the right prep option depends on your initial scores and the admissions requirements of the colleges your interested in attending.

If your initial scores are within 50 - 60 pts of your desired score and you are self-motivated, a self-study or an online automated course may be good solution for you. 

For the best prep guides check our Study Guide page.

For some free online test prep resources go to our Free SAT Prep page.

There are also quite a few online automated SAT and ACT prep websites.  Some even provide you with a free trial so you can 'try before you buy.'   

Large group or class prep courses may also be a good option.  They’re not as convenient as the online automated prep courses. On the other hand, they provide you with a live instructor, so you can get answers to specific questions you may have.

If, however,  your initial combined math & reading SAT scores are below 1000 or your ACT composite score is below 22, and the colleges you’re interested in require considerably higher scores, then small group or individualized one-on-one prep may be a better option.

3) There are quite a few SAT and ACT prep courses and programs available, how do I know which one to choose?

The   best way to study for any standardized test is to practice using the test maker’s own test questions.  The most effective courses or programs are those that use real College Board and ACT, Inc. test questions.  SAT or ACT “test-like” questions are not prepared to the same (i.e. identical) guidelines or standards used by the test maker.

Here are some questions you may wish to ask:

 a) Are the practice materials used real College Board or ACT, Inc. test questions?

b) Are the tests administered during the course actual College Board or ACT, Inc. tests?

c) How many College Board or ACT, Inc. tests are given and reviewed during the course?


d) Does the course contain a vocab building program?  What does the vocab building program entail?

e) What method or technique do you use to practice for the reading comprehension portion of the test?

f) When practicing for the math portion, do you sub-divide the math into different categories and then further sub-divide the questions by questions type (for example, the geometry questions would be further sub-divided into right angle triangle questions,  etc.)



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