According to the College Board, the organization responsible for the creation of the SAT, nearly 1.36 million students took the SAT in 2016. This number is staggering considering the fact that 2.2 million graduating seniors in 2016 enrolled in colleges or universities around the country. That means that nearly 62% of college bound students are taking the SAT to gain admission to higher education. The SAT is not the only game in town; students have the option of also taking the ACT, a standardized test with equal weight in the college admissions process. But as the College Board revamped the format of the SAT in 2016 while simultaneously collaborating with Khan Academy to offer free test prep, students have been flocking back to the SAT.
In the last year, I have signed up and taken both official tests. I have documented my experiences on my YouTube channel, providing score reveals for the SAT and the ACT. The primary purpose of taking these tests was to compare and analyze the math portions of the exams. Although I received perfect scores on both exams for the math portions, I did find that I liked the SAT math better. Although the questions can be longer and wordier, I felt the layout of the test and clarity of the questions were superior. I also like that they have now included a no calculator section, giving an edge to those folks who have developed a steadfast mental math ability over the years.
When it comes to preparing for the SAT, there are innumerable options. Students can sign up for classes, private tutoring, and online curriculums. When choosing affordable options, the online curriculums are certainly the best. But how is a student or parent to choose from all of the existing programs and video courses? Since I am in the industry of creating video courses myself, I decided to share the results of my research. While it is true that I also have a math course for the SAT, I will not be discussing my course in this article. Instead, I will only be comparing and analyzing the available courses from larger companies in the test prep world. Without further ado, here is my ranking of the available resources.
When it comes to online SAT courses, I believe that presentation and format is paramount. In order to engage young minds, the production quality needs to be top notch. In this respect, Veritas Prep has put in the requisite work. Their videos are crisp and clean, and the instructors they use are polished and knowledgeable. Instructors stand next to a whiteboard that projects both slides and problems, allowing them to interact with the whiteboard on camera. The main teacher for math, Cambrian, is energetic and fun to watch. The course includes nearly 5 hours of video content and an assortment of books containing practice exercises. Of the courses reviewed in this article, I place Veritas Prep at the top.
If you enjoy the show Shark Tank, you may have seen Shaun Patel pitch his company to Mark Cuban. Mark liked the product pitch and decided to partner up with Patel. The fruits of their collaboration is Expert Prep. The positive aspect of this company is that it was founded by a person who earned a perfect score on the SAT in high school. Another plus is that the video production is reasonably high. The lectures are given with a small talking head in the upper left hand corner as the content of the lecture is given on slides in the center of the screen. The engagement level is reasonable, though I would have to say that Veritas Prep’s cast of teachers is definitely preferable. My one issue with this course is that it emphasizes the importance of strategy over knowledge, and I personally believe that the math should be thoroughly learned and understood as opposed to utilizing strategies as workarounds.
In many respects, Khan Academy is actually superior to Expert Prep and Veritas Prep. All of the content is free, and the quality of the sample questions is top notch. The authenticity of the questions is almost guaranteed by the fact that the College Board has partnered with Khan Academy. The only piece that could be improved is the engagement of the videos. While they are extremely clear, the videos are simply whiteboard projections with no talking head. In order to truly engage students, a face or person should be visible during the lectures (as proven by analytics gathered from major online education platforms like Udemy). Aside from that small point, this is a fantastic resource with amazing value.
Princeton Review is one of the major players in the test prep industry. Their course contains 140 video lessons, 240 online drills, and 17 practice tests (though they are also counting the 8 practice tests made available by the College Board). The video content is comprised of teachers standing behind a glass wall using sharpies to write on said wall. Personally, I find this style of presentation to be slightly difficult to read, especially when the instructors are standing behind the writing. I found the teachers to have reasonable stage presence, and consider this to be a decent option given the fact that it is $200 less than Veritas Prep’s online SAT course.
This course boasts over 40 hours of video content along with over 1000 practice questions. They also have talking head videos, which contain narrations and explanations from actual Kaplan teachers. Like Princeton Review’s course, this class is on-demand and highly adjustable based on areas of strengths and weaknesses. It provides a great deal of content for its price, and should be considered for students seeking a low-priced option.
Ths SAT video course provided by ePrep includes 112 video lectures and 924 video explanations. While this course is fairly content heavy, I take issue with the presentation of the explanations. The videos simply show the problem on a piece of paper with narration and a pencil drawing the solutions. It is like Khan Academy in the sense that there is no talking head, but the narration is much drier than on Khan Academy’s site.
Lastly, Prep Scholar provides an online SAT course that costs more than Kaplan and Princeton Review. After looking through the course myself, I cannot recommend it alongside these other courses, especially due to its price of nearly $400. The first thing to note is that Prep Scholar’s course does not contain videos; instead, they have pages of explanations that students must read in order to understand concepts. With the abundance of great video resources, it does not make sense to use a product without videos. Another issue with this course is that the math problems seem to be modeled after the old SAT (before 2016).
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