O C F I T B L O G Investment How Much Does SAT Prep Cost On Average?

How Much Does SAT Prep Cost On Average?

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The goal of SAT prep is to learn tips and tricks that help maximize your time and performance on a college admissions test. 

Students are taught best practices for creating a study schedule, pacing themselves during the test, and using process of elimination to narrow down the answers. While not required, test prep can certainly help put you at ease on test day – and it is commonly correlated with higher test scores.

SAT test prep could be free through online quizzes and books from the library to thousands of dollars for one-on-one tutoring. 

Average SAT Test Prep Costs

When it comes to SAT prep, costs can range from $20 for a single book purchased online to more than $2,500 for individual tutoring. Why is test prep so expensive? For one, there’s a lot of demand for test prep because it boosts performance. Secondly, you’re asking for the time of someone who is an expert in test design and score optimization. That’s going to come with a price.

Fortunately, there are many options available to meet your price range while still providing the benefits of test preparation. Just consider the variability in the table below.

Type Of SAT Prep

Budget Type

Price Range

Cost For 40 Hours Of Prep

Self-Guided Study Guides


$0-$50 per book

$0-$200 if you use multiple books to prepare

Online Programs


$100-$1,400 per course

$100-$2,800 if you use multiple books to prepare

In-Person Courses


$800-$1,800 per course

$800-$3,600, depending on the length of each course

One-On-One Tutoring


$40-$200 per hour


Test Prep Options

Here’s a breakdown of the types of test prep currently offered. When reading through, try not to consider only the cost. While money is often the most important factor in these decisions, it certainly isn’t the only one that plays a role in your success. Also consider how much time you can commit, the environment in which you learn best, what you expect to gain from test prep, and which options are robust enough to meet those expectations.

Related: Best SAT Test Prep Courses In 2024

Independent Study

Self-guided preparation is a great option for anyone on a budget, as well as those who are self-motivated and prefer to set their own pace.

The College Board, the group that administers the SAT, is a great place to start because they share ample free resources online. They outline a study guide for students (complete with a timeline from now until test day), post practice tests, and share materials for hosting your own study group.

The College Board also partners with Khan Academy to provide a free digital SAT practice course, which was found to boost scores by at least 39 points for those who studied a minimum of six hours. And you’ll likely see a better result with even more studying!

Aside from this, there are several SAT guide books available between $20 and $50. While some cover the complete SAT, others focus on specific SAT subjects. A quick internet search returned this paper SAT practice test, which is one of four available for 2024, so don’t overlook an online search!

Just keep in mind that success through independent study comes from building good habits and staying committed to your timeline. It’s an effective way to increase your test score, but it’s not the right option for everyone.

Quick Pro of Using This Method: If you’re looking for resources on a budget – or if you just want something to supplement your existing study plan – there are countless free resources online, plus blogs and forums where you can read about the path that led others to success on the SAT.

What Is A Good SAT Score: Strategies For Success

Online Courses

One price range up from independent study is online prep. This is a good option for those who prefer a classroom-like experience at a lower cost.

Prices for online courses can start as low as $100 and top more than $1,000, but keep in mind the added benefit you’ll receive from having a more structured environment.

Fortunately, online test prep courses are structured to help students learn as effectively as possible, and many offer unique ways to meet your personalized needs. For example, you may prefer to move through set course material at your own pace, while someone else might want to tune into a live teaching session. These are two common options available in an online prep curriculum.

Quick Pro of Using This Method: If you’re short on study time, look no further than online test prep. The material included in these courses is intended to help narrow your focus and get you across the finish line quickly.

In-Person Group Learning

Another option is in-person learning, which is a great for students who want or need the extra push and level of accountability that comes with showing up to class.

Like online prep courses, in-person learning takes you through a pre-determined curriculum developed by SAT experts, meaning they’ll know what you need to succeed. The only difference is that you have to show up! You’ll sit through lectures, go through practice sets, and have a chance to work through questions with your classmates.

The cost of an in-person course is slightly higher because you’re receiving the dedicated knowledge and attention of an expert in real-time. You should expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per course, depending on the length, location, and institution offering the program.

Quick Pro of Using This Method: In-person learning opens up the opportunity to ask questions, receive direct feedback, and have one-on-one time with your instructor. It’s well-researched that having an in-person learning experience increases your engagement with the material and can lead to a more successful outcome.

Private Tutoring

The option at the highest end of the price range is private, one-on-one tutoring. If you learn best by having direct, in-person engagement with your instructor, this is certainly an option worth exploring.

Billed by the hour – instead of by the course – you can expect to pay hourly rates between $50 and $250 for a total of $1,000 or more. The total cost will, of course, depend on how many hours of exam prep you need. But if you’re struggling with the exam material and would benefit from training based on your individual strengths and weaknesses, private tutoring could make a difference in your test score.

Quick Pro of Using This Method: Private tutoring boasts an environment of motivation and accountability, so you’re likely to get a higher quality of instruction out of each hour with a tutor than you would studying for several hours on your own. 

How To Offset Your Costs

If your test prep sessions leave you strapped for cash, there are a few ways you may be able to lower costs elsewhere. While these won’t apply to everyone, this list is a good place to start:

  1. Register Early: The SAT registration fee is $60, and additional costs can add up quickly. By registering early, sticking with your initial test center, and refraining from canceling a test date, you can save at least $80.
  2. Apply for a Fee Waiver: If you need some financial assistance with the cost of registration, review the criteria and then talk to a school advisor about whether you can have your SAT fee waived.
  3. Utilize the Option to Send Free Reports: Each time you take the SAT, you can send your score to up to four schools at no additional cost. You also have nine days after your test date to utilize this perk, but after that, there’s a fee.
  4. Self-Report Your Test Scores: At the time of application, some universities allow you to self-report your SAT score. You’ll still need to submit your official test score from the College Board, but you can download it from your account for free.
  5. Consider Other Discounts and Packages: To get the best bang for your buck on test prep, ask your tutor or learning center if they’ll offer a discount for booking multiple sessions at once.

Related: College Entrance Exams 101: What To Know

Is Test Prep Worth It?

The cost to attend college becomes more expensive each year, but colleges continue to offer merit-based scholarships. One of the best ways to receive scholarships is to demonstrate your aptitude for rigorous college curricula via strong test scores. And – you guessed it – test prep can certainly help increase your score if you need it!

That being said, your test score isn’t the only factor taken into consideration when you apply to college. And test prep isn’t guaranteed to increase your test score. However, if you’re struggling with the exam material, it’s certainly worth talking to someone about your options for improvement. Just remember that, at the end of the day, it all comes down to how much work you’re willing to put in.

If you are realistic with your budget, the amount of time you can commit, and what you expect to gain from test prep, you should be in good shape to get started. Don’t be afraid to shop around to find something that really works for you!

Editor: Ashley Barnett

Reviewed by: Robert Farrington

The post How Much Does SAT Prep Cost On Average? appeared first on The College Investor.

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