- Kaplan SAT/ACT Prep Most Practice Tests
- The Princeton Review Best for One-on-One Attention
- Khan Academy Best Free SAT Prep
- ACT Online Prep Most Engaging ACT Prep
By 10th grade, all students should be proficient in the subject matter on the ACT and the SAT. That doesn’t mean they’re ready to take the test. Edward Carroll, a standardized test expert and tutor at The Princeton Review, said it best: “The SAT, more than anything else, shows how well you take the SAT.”
Think about it like this: A high school basketball player knows how to shoot a free throw, but shooting free throws in the driveway isn’t the same as sinking one during the fourth quarter of the state championships. That’s why we practice, practice, practice.
Taking the SAT or the ACT can feel like suiting up for the state championships. The best test prep courses will help students prepare for that feeling, to acclimate them to the test and its oddities, and help them practice — so when the clock is running down, their practice kicks in.
“The best test prep programs not only prepare students for the test, but also help enhance their knowledge of the subject matter covered in the test. They offer personalized learning that helps build on the student’s strengths and shore up their weaknesses across subject areas, so students feel confident they are prepared for and can do their best on the test.”
Paul Weeks Senior VP for Client Relations at ACT
Kaplan and The Princeton Review are both huge names in the test prep world. We liked Kaplan’s $299 basic program and its video-centric materials. But we loved the number of practice tests it came with: It sends 8 practice tests in its Big Book of SAT Practice Tests (if you’re studying for the ACT, it has a similarly giant book called the Big Book of ACT Practice Tests). The Princeton Review is also $299 for the basic program and stood out for having the simplest way to connect with one-on-one help. The basic program includes three hours of chat help, and it’s easy to buy more by the hour ($50 per hour) and a lot simpler than trying to hire a tutor.
Our top pick for SAT prep app is Khan Academy — a nonprofit online learning resource with courses in just about anything. For its SAT Prep, it partnered with the creator of the SAT, the College Board. Take a few diagnostic tests, plug in your test date, and get a customized study plan. The materials include video lessons and seven practice tests written by the College Board.
The best ACT prep app is ACT Online Prep. Like Khan Academy, ACT Online Prep partnered with the creator of the ACT (which is also called ACT). This program was the most fun — tons of games and quizzes to take — and had a continually updating expected score that kept us motivated.