It is no secret that your scores from the standardized college admissions test such as the ACT and SAT can dramatically influence your academic options in the United States. Aside from being a required document next to your transcript, recommendation letters, and admissions essay, your scores are meant to help evaluators identify if you will be a strong fit for the university. Additionally, acing the exams can even grant you solid opportunities to qualify for academic scholarships from top-tier universities while giving your GPA a boost on the side.
While it is true that no one really needs to get a perfect 1600 and 36 to qualify for Harvard, Princeton, or even Stanford, that does not mean that you can forgo the notion of preparing for the exams. In fact, it was recently reported that you need around 1460 to 1570 or 33 to 36 if you are planning to enter elite universities. To land in your dream school, experts highly recommend high school students to prepare early by taking full-length practice tests, looking for tutors, and signing up with test prep courses.
Should I go for SAT or ACT?
(SAT is reasoning and logic-based, while ACT is curriculum-based. Image: Unsplash)
Contrary to common belief, not all universities will require students to take both high-stakes tests. Generally, the exams are both widely accepted by different universities, and it will test common areas like language competence, general information from across high school subjects, and mathematics. However, they differ in the concept that SAT not only focuses on assessing knowledge but also gauging the student’s capacity to succeed in college.
In terms of the test structure, you can expect the 215 questions of ACT to cover four major sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science) and an optional writing test, all under three hours and 35 minutes. On the flip side, the 154 questions from SAT focuses on four components (Reading, Writing and Language, Math with and without a calculator) and an optional essay test within three hours and 50 minutes.
While both aim to measure how much you have learned in high school, SAT remains to be the one put on a high pedestal. The reason behind that is because SAT emphasizes the students’ ability to apply knowledge in real-world scenarios, while the ACT is leaning into assessing how confident the students are in their knowledge of the curriculum.
8 Most Recommended Online SAT Prep Resources
No one can contest the fact that SAT is still considered as the national standard for assessing reasoning and language competence. To ensure that you have the highest quality of resources for practice, we have listed below our picks for the best and most convenient websites to find useful digital assets for all skill levels.
1. College Board
What better way to ensure the quality of your study materials but by going directly to the creator and distributor of the SAT exam itself. College Board is a non-profit organization that has been around since 1899 and has continuously developed various standardized tests and curricula to promote college readiness.
Through their website, you can get instant access to free practice tests, sample questions from previous SAT exams, articles on test-taking strategies, and study plans that will surely fit right into your routine. They also published an official SAT study guide, which is considered “the bible” and the best prep book out there. Click here to get a detailed review of their book.
2. Khan Academy
If there is one company that can easily be recognized by students from across the world, that would be Khan Academy. This 2008 non-profit organization is a crowd favorite due to its amazing array of instructional videos explaining the simplest and most complex lessons, practice exercises, and personalized student dashboard. It has signed a partnership with the College Board, so you can rest assured knowing that the online practice exams you can find on their website are very much connected to the actual SAT.
If you are just starting, you can also take advantage of their diagnostic tests to see the areas that you have to focus on and be given a list of lessons to kick start your journey in the right direction.
Signing up with a structured review company with comprehensive study materials is a choice that many students consider. Due to this, a number of preparatory courses have been established to cater to the students’ demands and help them with tests such as SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, GED, MCAT, and others. See these prep courses and our compilation of reviews before you sign up with any company.
On Kaplan’s site, you can access their free SAT Turbo Test to gauge your understanding of some of the most common questions you can find in previous SAT exams. What sets this apart from other prep sites is that it provides an incredibly detailed explanation, especially for Math and grammar-related questions.
4. Udemy SAT prep training
Working just like Khan Academy, Udemy’s SAT Prep Course and Training is also one of the cult-favorites due to its comprehensive course structure. While it covers all the sections for SAT, it is mainly good for improving vocabulary and grammar for your essay tests. Another reason why it has a certain charm among students is the fact that their selection of courses is on the cheaper side. In fact, you can even focus on a specific component and pay as low as $11.99!
5. College Prep Genius
For award-winning study resources that have the most comprehensive lessons for each component, visiting the College Prep Genius is the next best thing you can do for yourself. With its tagline, “the no brainer way to SAT success,” you can rest assured knowing that the company is confident with the value of their online and self-prep materials.
For as low as $139 to $395, you can have an 11-hour worth of SAT prep materials and even set up classes for you and your friends in one area. After completing the program, you can still count on their support since they will allow you to access both new and old study materials.
6. Princeton Review
Now, if you want to connect with a seasoned SAT instructor, get a wide variety of prep content and practice tests, the Princeton Review is perfect for you. They offer quality education and 24/7 support, even to the point that you can get your tuition fee back if you get low marks on your exam.
They offer both face-to-face and online practice SAT exams for free and get a performance report within the day. They will also prepare a tailored-fit guide and a list of tips on how you can improve your score.
Interested in adding a few hundred points to your current level? Magoosh can help you out with its masterfully crafted practice tests that come with video explanations to help students understand the basics all within site. Since it is mainly online, you can review anywhere and anytime using their interactive and easy to navigate site.
Their special SAT prep course boasts around 1,750 practice questions with video explanations for each. Upon sign up, you can also check out over 200 video lessons on the same platform. If you want to try it out, they have a free 7-day trial on their site.
8. Power Score
If you are looking for a total compilation of different SAT materials, prep booklet, and copies of previous questions from the test, browsing through the extensive collection of Power Score is important. The site aggregates several articles, materials, and tips from different sites, all for free! The company also has published a few SAT-based e-books, such as the SAT Vocabulary (free) and the ACT & SAT Reading Bible ($20).