In September of 2015, the Washington Post reported on how United States students had scored on the SAT ever since the test was overhauled in 2005:
“The average score for the Class of 2015 was 1490 out of a maximum 2400, the College Board reported Thursday. That was down 7 points from the previous class’s mark and was the lowest composite score of the past decade. There were declines of at least 2 points on all three sections of the test—critical reading, math, and writing.”
These declines should worry anyone, especially those whose career focuses on education, from our Department of Education all the way down to student teachers.
The Brookings Institute emphasizes that the decline in SAT scores isn’t all bad news. For example, they attribute these numbers to increases in overall students taking the SAT versus prior years:
“The data suggest that two-thirds to three-quarters of the SAT score decline from 2005 to 2015 is associated with demographic changes in the test-taking population. The analysis is admittedly crude. The relationships are correlational, not causal. The race/ethnicity categories are surely serving as proxies for a bundle of other characteristics affecting SAT scores, some unobserved and others (e.g., family income, parental education, language status, class rank) that are included in the SAT questionnaire but produce data difficult to interpret.”
In other words, the one possible explanation for test score decreases could be due to more students taking the SAT today that otherwise would not have taken the test in the past.
Yet we shouldn’t ignore the issue completely. As is with anything related to education, there is always room for improvement. In the case of preparing for the SAT or even the ACT, many students aren’t made fully aware of the resources at their disposal to prepare for these tests.
Luck favors the prepared and it is the responsibility of schools–administrators and staff–to make sure their students have all of the resources they need to succeed in these exams. I’ve prepared a thorough guide of free and paid resources for SAT and ACT prep that every school administrator should be aware of.
All resources are listed in alphabetical order.
Free SAT/ACT Prep Websites
Most introductory test preparation are free, so long as you know where to look. Here are eight free SAT/ACT prep websites that provide study guides, practice tests, and lessons.
BWS’ resources are a good entry-level free SAT and ACT site. They offer a study guide, recommended reading list, and explanations of the new SAT versus the old SAT, but no practice tests for the SAT. On the other hand, they offer practice tests for the ACT, reading lists, and testing tips, but no study guides for the ACT.
While it doesn’t take the place of a course or study guide, the Magoosh blog has many tips and hacks for SAT and ACT prep, as well as many other useful posts for college-bound high schoolers. On top of their blog, Magoosh also offers a free ACT strategy and practice question eBook.
Method has a lot to offer SAT and ACT test takers with comprehensive study guides, informative webinars, and even a free 90-minute SAT prep class.
Number2 offers a free online tutoring class for prospective ACT takers. The course molds itself to the skill level of the student, provides progress reports, and even offers live support from coaches and helpers.
Who says test prep has to be boring? Prep Factory differentiates their prep content by offering games, practice question breakdowns, and integrative study guides.
What better place to get SAT and ACT information than from the test makers, College Board? Encourage your students to connect their Khan Academy and College Board accounts, which grants access to free, personalized practice tests. These practice tests adjust themselves based on the student’s learning pace and topics that need the most attention.
SparkNotes offers free study guides and tests for both the SAT and ACT, as well as subject-specific practice tests.
Union Test Prep offers ACT-specific test prep, including practice tests, flashcards for topic memorization, and study guides to prepare for the big day.
Paid SAT/ACT Prep Sites
While free is good, the highest-quality SAT and ACT websites most often require some payment. While there are tons of free test-prep resources, the most successful SAT and ACT test takers often seek help from paid test professionals. Plus, most major test-prep companies offer a money-back guarantee, mitigating the risk of their often-high price point.
Here are seven paid SAT/ACT paid websites.
Price: $229 per student
Most study guides focus on multiple-choice content, but Brave Writer offers in-depth preparation classes just for the essay sections of the SAT and ACT. Topics include question analyzation, subject segues, and effective essay planning.
Price: Varies based on solution
While BWS’ free resources were disjointed, the same can’t be said for their paid options. BWS offers almost any test-prep option, including individualized tutoring, test-prep books, and test-prep classes.
Price: Varies based on the needs of the student
College Primers offers comprehensive test-prep courses which include SAT/ACT subject material, effective answer strategies, essay writing skills, and how to catch trick questions.
This ten-part video series is geared towards the ACT, complete with test-taking strategies, tips, tricks, and test subject material.
Prices: $79 for one month, $89 for three months, and $99 for six months
Magoosh makes yet another appearance on this list due to their extensive paid test-prep courses for both ACT and SAT. Each course features several instructors, explanation and lesson videos, tutor support, and hundreds of practice questions.
Price: Consultations start at $300
Veritas Prep not only helps with your students’ SAT and ACT preparation, but also offers homework help seven days a week. They’ve served an impressive record of 300,000 students from 20 countries over the course of 15 years.
SAT/ACT Prep YouTube Channels
Here are six SAT/ACT prep YouTube channels your students should reference for information and instruction.
Success doesn’t begin or end at the SAT and ACT, it begins the moment that student enrolls at your school. Capterra offers tons of useful resources on our school administration blog and directories of school administration software to make that job that much easier.
If you’re interested in more school administration guides, check out:
Are there any SAT/ACT prep resources that I missed? Have you used any of the resources listed? What worked for your students? Let me know in the comment section below!