teacher with whiteboard

What Kind of Math is On the SAT?

Bonus Material: Test your knowledge with 20 of the Hardest SAT Math Questions ever

If you’re applying to college, you’ll most likely need to score well on the SAT.

Since half of your total score is going to come from the Math section, you’ll want to know exactly what kinds of questions you’re going to see on test day.

In this post, we’ll provide an in-depth explanation of what concepts the SAT Math section tests, and how it tests them. 

This information is crucial to make sure you're studying the right things for the SAT! Often students waste their time focusing on questions that won't appear on the SAT at all, or make up a small fraction of the math problems. Follow our advice to study effectively.

Then, test your knowledge with our Hardest SAT Math Questions Quiz.

Download our quiz with 20 of the hardest SAT Math problems

Jump to section:

What Does the SAT Math Section Look Like?
Main Categories of Math Questions
Algebra of Lines
Non-Linear Algebra
Data Analysis and Problem Solving
Geometry
Foundational Math Skills (and imaginary numbers)
Next Steps


What Does the SAT Math Section Look Like?

The SAT Math Section is split into two portions. The first section contains 20 questions and does not allow you to use a calculator. The second section contains 38 questions for which you can (and usually should) use a calculator. 

You get one total score for both sections combined, based on the raw number of questions you get correct out of the possible 58.

This post will cover the specific content you need to know on the SAT Math. For a more general guide to structure and strategy, check out our post here.

Did you know that the SAT will change significantly in the next two years? The math on the new digital SAT will test similar concepts but with a different structure. Read more about the new digital SAT here, and check if the changes will affect your test dates.


Main Categories of Math Questions

The bad news? The SAT presents math concepts in ways that you may not be familiar with. The great news? Because the SAT has to be consistent from test to test, it is highly predictable and you can absolutely prepare yourself for everything you’ll see. 

Below is a chart that shows how the College Board classifies the four main areas of questions and how often they come up. Because their terminology is a little unspecific (“Heart?” “Passport?”), we’ve translated those into what they actually mean. 

math concepts on the SAT

In a nutshell, the main “families” of questions are: Algebra of Lines; Non-linear Algebra; Data Analysis; Geometry. 

Those categories are helpful to give you an idea of what content the SAT expects you to know. Below, we’ll get more specific: we’ll go through what specific operations the SAT Math section asks you to do.

Aiming for a perfect score on the SAT Math? You'll have to be able to answer the toughest questions flawlessly. Try out 20 of the toughest SAT Math questions ever with our Hardest SAT Math Questions Quiz.


Algebra of Lines

At the heart of this section is one little equation: y = mx + b. When we talk about “lines” or “linear equations” on the SAT, we’re really talking about y = mx + b. If you can master how the SAT tests the uses of this particular equation, you’ll have the tools to answer 19 of the questions. That’s one third of the Math test!

Perhaps this is old news to you, but if you need a refresh: y is the dependent variable (or output); x is the independent variable (or input); m is the slope (or rate of change); b is the y-intercept (or what you get for y when you plug in 0 for x). 

student working on math problem

But it’s not as simple as just memorizing the equation. There are specific things the SAT will expect you to be able to do, and understanding the elements of this equation is only the starting point. Below is a specific set of tasks the SAT will set for you, roughly in order of difficulty:

  1. Matching a graph of a line to its equation (and vice-versa)
  2. Finding the slope of a line. 
  3. Finding the midpoint of a line. 
  4. Modeling a real-world situation with a linear equation. 
  5. Solving for one variable in a linear equation when given the other elements. 
  6. Finding the equations of parallel and perpendicular lines. 
  7. Modeling a real-world situation with an inequality. 
  8. Graphing an inequality. 
  9. Solving systems of linear equations and inequalities. 
  10. Graphing systems of linear equations and inequalities. 
  11. Graphing and solving equations with absolute values. 

Here's an example of a classic type of linear function problem that typically shows up on every SAT test:

SAT Math question from test #6

No student should go in to take the SAT without a complete mastery of the linear equations and y = mx + b. Fortunately, there are lots of resources to help you get that mastery. Students can do independent practice on Khan Academy or using the College Board’s official practice tests. For expert guidance on SAT Math concepts, students can work with one of our experienced Ivy-League tutors.


Non-Linear Algebra

The questions in this category test your ability to work with the equations and graphs of quadratics, exponents, and radicals (or roots). Nearly a third of questions belong in this category, but this category covers a far wider range of topics than the previous one.

Still, the core of this section is the quadratic equation. All quadratic equations can (and usually should) be written in the form ax^2 + bx + c = 0. You need to know this equation inside and out: what’s a? What’s b? What’s c? Here’s specifically what the SAT will ask you to do with Quadratics:

  1. Matching a graph of a parabola to its equation (and vice versa).
  2. Factoring/solving quadratics.

    • Factoring normally.
    • Factoring differences of perfect squares.
    • Factoring with the Quadratic Formula.
    • Factoring by grouping.
    • Factoring by completing the square (specifically for the equation of a circle)*. 

  3. Finding the vertex (also known as the minimum/maximum value) from a quadratic equation. 
  4. Solving systems of equations that include at least one quadratic equation. 
  5. Polynomial division of a quadratic.*
  6. Using the discriminant to solve a quadratic equation.*

* Something worth noting: there are a number of questions on the SAT Math that you can reliably expect to see exactly once per test. These tend to be difficult if you’re not expecting them. These are marked with an asterisk (*).

Here's an example of a more abstract question involving a quadratic equation and the graph of a parabola:

SAT Math question from test #6

And here's a more challenging problem involving a discriminant:

SAT Math question from test #6
SAT Math question from test #6

But that’s just the quadratic stuff! You’ll also be expected to work with radical and exponential equations. Specifically, you need to understand:

  1. Exponential equations

    • Modeling exponential growth/decay from a word problem. 

    • Graphing exponential equations. 
    • Solving exponential equations. 
    • Exponent rules. 

  2. Radical equations

    • Graphing radical equations. 
    • Solving radical equations (and avoiding extraneous solutions). 
    • Simplifying radicals.
    • Rationalizing a denominator that contains a root (or imaginary number).*

  3. Manipulating polynomials.

    • Finding common denominators for rational expressions. 
    • FOIL-ing. 
    • Simplifying. 

Here's an example of a real exponent problem from a past SAT:

SAT Math question from test #6

We've worked with thousands of students to prepare for the SAT, and we've found that students are often a bit rusty with exponential operations. Fortunately, a little bit of targeted practice can iron out any confusions!

There are a lot of concepts tested here, but by reviewing past tests and other resources, you can learn exactly what to expect. As with the previous section, you want to make sure you have a strong grasp on each of these concepts before going in to take the test. If any of these concepts feel a bit shaky, our test prep experts can help. 

Feeling confident about these advanced algebra topics? Try out 20 of the toughest SAT Math questions ever with our Hardest SAT Math Questions Quiz.


Data Analysis and Problem Solving

This subset of math questions tests your ability to perform specific operations that aren’t necessarily linked to linear or non-linear equations. A key element of this section is understanding probabilities and some basic statistical measures

You’ll be tested on your ability to: 

  1. Perform unit conversions.
  2. Create and solve equations with ratios and proportions. 
  3. Perform percentage calculations.

    • Finding percent change given two values. 
    • Finding the original value when given the final value and the percent change. 
    • Finding final value when given the original value and the percent change. 

  4. Understand and find basic measures of center:

    • Finding Mode.
    • Finding Range.
    • Finding Median.

      • They will often ask whether the mean or median of a particular data set will be more affected by an outlier. 

    • Finding Mean/Average (this is the most heavily tested).

      • Solving Mixture problems.
      • Solving equations that include a mean/average.

    • Understanding standard deviation.

      • This one sneaks up on people! You won’t be expected to calculate standard deviation, but you will be expected to know what it is, and which of two number sets has a higher/lower standard deviation. 

  5. Calculate probabilities

    • Finding the probability of a particular outcome. 

  6. Understand graphs and tables

    • Finding a line of best fit. 
    • Scatter-plots
    • Bar graphs
    • Histograms 
    • Stem-and-leaf plots
    • Box-and-whisker plots

  7. Understand basics of experimental design

    • Understand sampling bias. 
    • Understand what makes a study reliable. 

There are a lot of concepts here, but a couple worth paying extra attention to. Many, many students struggle at first with percentages and ratios. These can be highly unintuitive, and you’ll benefit from doing a comprehensive review of these concepts. 

The statistical concepts don’t usually require much math or calculation on your part. But you do need to understand each of these concepts thoroughly to answer the questions presented. If you can’t immediately think of how to quickly compare median and mean for a data set, or if you aren’t sure what a histogram looks like, it’s probably time to study up or reach out to a tutor.

SAT math answer key

Here's an example of a common type of question asking students to find the mean of a small data set, and then use that to solve a short algebra problem:

SAT Math question from test #6

Geometry

About 10% of the questions on the SAT will test your knowledge of geometric figures, mostly triangles and circles. Though lots of students stress out over geometry, there’s actually a fairly limited number of concepts you need to master to succeed on these questions. 

Here’s what you’ll have to know:

  1. Triangles

    • Solving right triangles with the Pythagorean theorem
    • Solving for Sin/Cos/Tan in right triangles
    • Solving similar triangles (they always ask about these!)
    • Using special right triangles (30-60-90 and 45-45-90)
    • Solving for area of a triangle
    • Using triangle properties to solve for an angle or side

      • Interior angles sum to 180
      • The biggest angle is always opposite the longest side, etc. 
      • Any two sides of a triangle must sum to be greater than the third

  2. Circles

    • Using the equation of a circle to solve for center or radius*
    • Finding area and circumference
    • Converting between radians and degrees
    • Solving for the angle measure/arc length/area of a slice of a circle*

  3. Miscellaneous Geometry

    • Solving for the area and perimeter of rectangles and squares
    • Solving for the area of other polygons (this can always be done by cutting up the polygon into rectangles and triangles). 
    • Solving for missing angles in transversals
    • Finding the interior angle measure of any regular polygon (hint: there’s an equation!)
    • Solving for the volume of regular shapes (the equations will be given)
    • Comparing the areas/volumes of shapes

Here's an example of a classic geometry problem implementing similar triangles and the Pythagorean Theorem:

SAT Math question from test #6

Ready for a challenge? Try some more advanced geometry problems on our Hardest SAT Math Questions Quiz.


Foundational Math Skills (and i)

In addition to asking you to do all of the things outlined above, the SAT also checks your knowledge of foundational math skills. These are basically baked into the rest of the problems, and you likely do some or all of these things without thinking about them:

  1. Order of operations
  2. Simplifying expressions
  3. Finding common denominators to combine fractions
  4. Isolating variables
  5. Understanding i and imaginary numbers

    • This gets tested every time: do you know what i represents? Do you know what to do when it’s in the denominator?

math chalkboard


Next Steps

If you’ve read through this list carefully, you now know just about everything the SAT will ask you to do.

Our SAT experts have guided thousands of students through studying for the SAT in the most effective way, focusing on the types of questions that, when mastered, will improve scores the most. We've shared some of those insights here.

Now, it’s time to make sure you can handle these math concepts yourself! We recommend Khan Academy for math review. If you feel like an expert, test your skills with our popular quiz featuring the 20 hardest SAT Math questions ever found on real SAT tests.

If some of those questions stump you, or if some of the concepts listed above aren’t crystal clear, there’s nothing better than an experienced one-on-one tutor to help you master the SAT Math. Our Ivy-League tutors will make sure that you know exactly how to prepare for the SAT most efficiently and effectively. Our co-founder, Kevin, also offers a limited number of small-group SAT MasterClasses that help students to reach their full potential on the SAT.

To reserve a spot in a SAT MasterClass or start one-on-one SAT tutoring today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.

In the meantime, happy prepping!

Download our quiz with 20 of the hardest SAT Math problems

Bonus Material: Download our quiz with 20 of the hardest SAT Math problems ever


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Bonus Material: Download our quiz with the Hardest SAT Math Questions from real SAT tests



The New Digital SAT: Everything We Know So Far about the Big Changes in 2023 and 2024

Bonus Material: Check if the changes to the SAT will affect you

Big changes are coming to the SAT beginning in March 2023!

Our Ivy-League SAT experts have been staying on top of all of the updates as they’re released by the College Board.

We’ve spent hours figuring out exactly how the SAT is changing and how students can prepare for these new challenges.

Read on to learn when the SAT will change, what will be different on the new test, who will be affected, and how to prepare.

Will the new SAT affect me? Click to find out

Bonus Material: Will the new SAT affect me? Download our short guide to find out

Jump to section:

The New Digital SAT in a Nutshell
What is the SAT? (and does the SAT still matter?)
Why is the College Board Changing the SAT Again?
When Will the SAT Change? Does the New Digital SAT Affect Me?
How Will Students Take the New Digital SAT?
What's Different on the New Digital SAT?
How Will the Digital SAT be Scored?
How to Prepare for the New Digital SAT?
Is Anything Happening to the ACT?
Next Steps


The New Digital SAT in a Nutshell

For decades, the SAT has been taken with pencil and paper. 

Starting in March 2023, College Board is launching a new “digital SAT” that will be taken on a laptop or tablet, either their own personal device or one provided by the school.

But it’s not just the medium of the test that’s changing. The College Board is also making big changes to the structure of the test and the type of test questions.

student studying for SAT with laptop

Passages and questions on the new digital SAT will be shorter and more direct. Instead of long passages with about ten questions per passage, students will get many short texts, each with one question.

The digital SAT will be shorter than the current paper SAT. Instead of three hours, the new digital SAT will be about two hours long.

The new digital SAT will have two sections with a break in between. There will be a Reading and Writing section and a Math section.

Unlike the current SAT, the new digital SAT will be adaptive, which means that the questions will get easier or harder as students continue the test, depending on their performance on the first set of questions. In theory, that means that scores can more precisely measure students’ skill levels, even with a shorter test.

Big changes to the SAT will make it even more important that students use the most up-to-date practice material and work with the most up-to-date tutors and programs.

The new digital SAT will launch first for international students in March 2023, and then for students testing in the US in March 2024. The matching PSAT will also change to a new digital version starting October 2023

Students who are testing internationally can already register for the new digital SAT. The first testing date for the new digital SAT is March 11, 2023.


What is the SAT? Does the SAT still matter?

Each year, roughly 2 million high school students take the SAT. 

Along with the ACT, the SAT is a key component of college admissions. Colleges use test scores to gauge a student’s college readiness.

Many students and parents have been asking whether test scores still matter, since most colleges instituted a temporary test-optional policy as a response to Covid. However, 83% of students (regardless of background) have said that they want the option to submit test scores to colleges. 

Princeton University
Princeton University

Based on our research, most students at competitive schools are still submitting test scores. This is especially true for top-tier schools. With the exception of a small handful of schools that have instituted a test-blind policy, strong test scores will always help in the admissions process.  

For students whose grades may have slipped during high school, test scores are especially useful to show admissions officers your potential. As the College Board says, “test scores can confirm a student’s grades or demonstrate their strengths beyond what their high school grades may show.”

In addition to college admission, test scores can be used to earn scholarships or placement in special programs. Many schools that are test-optional for 2022 or 2023 are still using test scores for scholarships, so good scores can be an important way of avoiding student debt.

Younger students can also use test scores for admission to gifted and talented programs.

Finally, test scores are very useful when building a college list. SAT scores can help students to figure out where they might be a competitive applicant. 

Our SAT experts have helped thousands of students navigate the test prep process and raise their scores to match their true potential. Our Ivy-League educators have also created many free test prep resources to help students prepare for college. For more test prep guidance, schedule a call with Jessica or one of our founders today!


Why is the College Board Changing the SAT Again?

The College Board usually changes the SAT about once per decade, to keep up with new trends in education and standardized testing.

The last big change was in 2016. Before 2016, the SAT was scored out of 2400. You might see the current post-2016 SAT still described as the “New SAT” — but it’s not really new anymore! In fact, the post-2016 SAT is about to lose its status as the newest version of the SAT.

The College Board is changing the SAT again now in order to take advantage of the rapid shift towards digital learning and testing during the pandemic. The new SAT will be more secure from cheating, more able to accurately measure students’ abilities in a shorter period of time, and eventually it will be offered with more locations and more frequent testing dates.

student with laptop

On the new digital SAT, each student will have a unique set of test questions. The College Board explained that previously “if one test form is compromised, it can mean canceling scores for whole groups of students,” but sharing answers will be impossible on the new digital SAT.

Now, some students have actually already been taking the SAT on computers, not on paper. However, the new digital SAT will be different from the existing computer-based SAT

The existing SAT on computers (that some students may have encountered) is the same as the paper test, just on the computer. The new digital SAT will be entirely different — it will give every student a unique set of questions, and the questions will be easier or harder depending on how the student performs on the first stage of each test subject. (We’ll explain these changes below.)

The College Board has emphasized that the new digital SAT will open more flexibility for them to increase when and where they offer the SAT. In particular, it will allow more opportunities for states and school districts to offer the in-school “SAT School Day,” which “has been an important driver of access and equity and has been shown to lead to higher college-going rates for low-income and rural students.”

In the future, there will be broad testing windows for school-day testing, staggering students throughout the day or across a week or month. With the new digital SAT, there can also be staggered start times throughout the day nationally. Helpfully, it will be much easier for students to make up for absences on school-day testing. (There will be limits to re-testing within a window.)

Finally, the overall test day experience for the new digital SAT will be shorter and more efficient, since testing staff won’t need to spend time handing out, collecting, or sorting test materials, and students can complete the “student questionnaire” ahead of time.


When Will the SAT Change? Does the New Digital SAT Affect Me?

The new digital SAT will launch in stages.

First, the College Board will administer the new digital SAT to students testing outside the US from March 2023

The College Board claims that this is so that they can increase the number of international testing dates from 5 to 7 dates per year, and thereby expand access to the SAT. This is true, but of course the real reason is that they’re using the much smaller international student pool as guinea pigs. Sorry, international students!

Some international students have been asking whether there is any way for international students to avoid taking the new digital SAT in this experimental year. It's certainly possible for international students to take the SAT while physically in the US (at a US testing location) before March 2024, while the paper-based SAT test is still being administered to US-based students. Of course, this may be prohibitively expensive or difficult for international students to arrange.

If students spend part of the year in the US and part of the year outside the US, we encourage students to take the paper SAT in the US while they still can.

Next, the PSAT will switch to digital for everyone in October 2023. Since the PSAT is essentially a “practice SAT” that students take in the fall of their junior year, it makes sense for the class of 2025 to take the digital PSAT, since they will also most likely be taking the digital SAT.

Finally, the SAT will change for everyone in March 2024. From that point onwards, it will no longer be possible to take the SAT on paper.

(The only exception to this will be for students with specific accommodations that require a paper and pencil test. For more on testing accommodations, check out our guide here.)

By March 2024, the in-school testing days will also be digital. Currently 60% of all students who take the SAT take it for free in their school during the school day, and “independent research shows that universal school day testing leads to higher college-going rates for low-income and rural students” (College Board).

If students have the chance to take both tests, it might be advantageous to try both. Just like ambitious students often try both the SAT and the ACT, trying to see where they might have an edge, some students might do better on one version of the SAT than the other.

Will the new SAT affect me? Click to find out


How will Students Take the New Digital SAT?

With the new digital SAT, students will take the test on a laptop or tablet. These can be personal devices or school-issued.

If students don’t have access to a laptop or tablet, they can request to borrow one from the College Board for the test. This applies to students anywhere in the world, including students taking the test internationally. Students will need to make this request ahead of test day — if students show up on test day without an appropriate device, they will not be able to take the test that day.

There will likely be some hiccups as the College Board irons out the details of how to provide devices to students, but in 2020 and 2021 students took AP exams (also administered by the College Board) at home, and the College Board plans to “implement a similar solution for the SAT” (College Board).

The new digital SAT will be administered in a locked-down application, and students will not be able to open other applications while testing.

The SAT application has been built to withstand internet outages. Students will be able to continue the test if the internet disconnects while they’re testing — all their work will be saved, and they won’t lose testing time.

Students will need to arrive on test day with a fully-charged device that can last three hours. This will be very important for students to remember! The test center can provide access to a power source (power outlets, power strips, or surge protectors), but they do not need to provide power. It will be the responsibility of the students to make sure that their device can last the length of the test.

If students have an extended-time accommodation (read more about testing accommodations in our guide), then the test center will be responsible for providing access to a power source for at least part of the test.

The College Board has created a new role of Technology Coordinator for each test site, and they’ll have a dedicated customer service team ready to help troubleshoot technical issues that undoubtedly will arise, especially during the initial transition year.

The College Board has worked to make the testing experience similar to working on paper. Within each test section, students will be able to move back and forth between questions. A countdown clock at the top of the testing screen (students can also hide the clock until the final five minutes of each section), which will also alert students when there are only a few minutes left. 

Students can bring a pen or pencil and will be provided with scratch paper. The app will have a highlighter and the ability to flag questions to come back to later. There will be a way to mark eliminated answers.

The app will also have a built-in graphing calculator that students can use on all of the math questions. Students will still be able to bring their own graphing calculator, if they choose.

There will definitely be some key adjustments to important test-taking strategies, since it will no longer be able to annotate questions and passages like on the classic paper test. We’ll continue to provide advice on testing strategies from our SAT experts (sign up for our newsletter for the best insights). Students can also work one-on-one with our Ivy-League tutors to prepare for these changes, and we’ll be opening extra sessions of our renowned SAT MasterClass with our co-founder, Kevin.


What’s Different on the New Digital SAT?

As we’ve mentioned, the new digital SAT is not just a computer-based version of the current SAT. There are also significant changes to the test structure and the style of questions.

Changes to test structure on the new digital SAT

The new digital SAT will be shorter, just a bit more than two hours (versus the current three hours).

There will be two main sections with a break in between: first Reading and Writing, and then Math.

On the current paper SAT, there are separate sections for Reading and for Writing. On the new digital SAT, these will be combined, and students will find Reading questions (about reading comprehension) in the same section as Writing questions (about grammar and the mechanics of clear writing).

Each section will be broken down further into two equal “stages.” (This is to enable the test to be adaptive, which we’ll explain in a moment.) The overall test structure will look like this:

New for the digital SAT, the exact questions that appear on the test will be unique for each student. An algorithm will select questions from a large pool of questions (ranging in content area and in difficulty), adapting to the performance of each student.

In theory, this will make the tests more secure. It will be much harder to cheat the SAT if every student gets a different set of questions.

On the current paper SAT, students often encounter a fifth surprise section of the test. These questions never count as part of the students’ scores — they’re just for the SAT to use internally as they develop new test questions.

On the new digital SAT, however, these “experimental questions” will be mixed in with the rest of the real questions! Each section will have 4 unscored questions mixed in with the scored questions.

Test stages and adaptive testing

As we’ve said, one key difference between the current SAT and the new digital SAT is that the new test will be adaptive. But what does this mean, and exactly how does it work?

Basically, adaptive means that the test will become harder or easier depending on how students perform on the first set of questions.

But don’t worry — the test won’t keep changing with every question you answer. Instead, the new digital SAT will get a first indication of a student’s level with the first stage of each section. This lowers the stakes on any one question and also preserves the ability to go backward and forward within a stage. That first stage will have an even balance of easy, medium, and hard questions.

Then, depending on how well students do on that first stage of the section (the College Board is still deciding how exactly they’ll determine this), they will either get mostly easy and medium questions on the second stage, or they’ll get mostly medium and hard questions.

how the new digital SAT will be adaptive

(This stage-adaptive design is incidentally the way that the GRE, the test that many students take to apply to graduate programs, has worked for over a decade. It’s in contrast to an item-adaptive approach of a test like the GMAT, which is used for MBA admissions programs.)

This means that students will encounter the questions that are the most suited to their level. On the current SAT, there are not very many hard questions to separate the high-scoring students from the super high-scoring students. The difference between a perfect 800 on the current SAT Math and a 700 (which is a great score, but not high enough to be competitive for the Ivy League) is just six questions. Six questions to separate Ivy-League students from the rest! 

So on the current test, there are usually only a handful of make-or-break questions that function to distinguish the highest scorers. (Check out our popular quiz of the hardest SAT math questions ever!) On the new digital SAT, stronger students will get lots more medium and hard questions, so they’ll have more chances to distinguish themselves.

On the flip side, the test will also be more appropriate for lower-scoring students. Currently, if students struggle with the math section, for example, there are only a few easier questions that are more their level, and many harder questions for which they’ll typically need to just guess. Students who answer fewer questions correctly on the first stage of each section on the new digital SAT will get an easier set of questions for the second stage. This expanded set of easy and medium questions will allow students to prove their abilities.

Hopefully, this will make a better testing experience for everyone. Students will get more questions that are targeted to their level, and the whole SAT will be shorter and less of an endurance test!

Changes to questions on the Reading and Writing section

The general knowledge required for students will be similar as for the current SAT, but the style of the new Reading and Writing section is going to be drastically different.

On the current paper SAT, there are two separate sections for Reading and Writing & Language. The Reading section features longer passages and tests reading comprehension, vocabulary, literary analysis, and the use of evidence to support a conclusion about the text. The Writing & Language section tests grammar and good writing techniques like using logical transitions, presenting ideas in a clear order, and writing concisely.

On the new digital SAT, students will be tested on all of these things in the same test section. The first half of each section will be focused on Reading, while the second half of the section will be on Writing.

On the current SAT, students get five long passages (600–700 words) on the Reading section; each Reading passage has a full page (or more) of text accompanied by about ten questions. On the current Language & Writing section, there are four long passages, each with about a dozen questions.

The new digital SAT will be completely different. There will be no long passages on the new digital SAT. Instead, there will be many short passages of just a few lines long (25–150 words), and one question per short passage.

Students will find that the “dual” or “parallel” reading passage, where two texts from different authors are set side by side for comparative analysis, has been removed from the new digital SAT.

On the new digital SAT, there will now be short poetry passages.

Questions involving data visualizations and graphics have also been simplified.

There will no longer be a “no change” option for writing questions. There will also no longer be questions about idiomatic phrases or commonly-confused words.

Here are the Reading and Writing concepts that the New Digital SAT will test:

Reading:

  • Craft and Structure
  • Words in Context
  • Text Structure and Purpose
  • Cross-Text Connections
  • Info and Ideas

    • Central Ideas and Details
    • Command of Evidence (textual or quantitative)
    • Inferences

Writing:

  • Standard English Conventions
  • Info and Ideas

    • Rhetorical Synthesis
    • Transitions

Here are some examples of the new question types from the new Reading and Writing section:

Reading question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Reading question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Reading question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Reading question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Reading question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Reading question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1) — this one with short poetry excerpts
Reading question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Writing question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Writing question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Writing question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Writing question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Writing question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Writing question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)

Changes to questions on the Math section

On the whole, there will be fewer changes to the Math section on the new digital SAT compared to the new Reading and Writing section.

One significant change is in the calculator policy. On the current paper SAT, students take a shorter section with NO calculator and then a longer section with a calculator.

(This has always been one key difference between the SAT and the ACT, because the ACT doesn’t have a no-calculator section.)

On the new digital SAT, students will be able to use calculators on every math question!

The new digital SAT will test the same types of math as on the current paper SAT. However, they’ve renamed the math content to be clearer:

  • Algebra
  • Advanced Math
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis
  • Geometry and Trigonometry

There will no longer be questions about imaginary or complex numbers. Another small change is that the grid-in answers can now be negative (and in that case include an extra digit).

Throughout the math section on the new digital SAT, word problems will be more concise than those on the current test. There will no longer be sets of questions based on a given scenario or diagram — every question will be separate and discrete. 

Check out some sample Math questions from the newly released preview material from the College Board:

Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)
Math question from the new digital SAT (practice test #1)


How Will the Digital SAT be Scored?

The new digital SAT will still be scored on a 1600 scale. In theory, scores on the new digital SAT will mean the same thing as on the current SAT, so a score of 1250 on the digital SAT corresponds to a score of 1250 on the paper and pencil SAT.

However, it’s unlikely that students will be able to superscore between the current paper SAT and the new digital SAT.  For example, a student probably will not be able to combine a higher Math score on the paper SAT with a higher Reading & Writing score on the digital SAT.

The College Board can’t control whether colleges allow superscoring or not. Back when the SAT last changed in 2016, the changes were so extensive that colleges didn’t superscore across the versions of the SAT. So while we won’t know for certain until 2025, we can guess that most colleges likely will not be comfortable with superscoring across the two versions of the SAT.

Students will continue to get detailed information from their SAT score reports. New to the digital SAT, the digital SAT Suite will connect students to information about local two-year colleges and workforce training programs tied to their achievements, interests, and financial goals. Students will also receive information more broadly about how their SAT score might open up future career opportunities.

The relationship between ACT scores and SAT scores will still be the same, and the existing ACT/SAT Concordance will still be valid. This is what colleges use to translate between SAT and ACT scores.

Scoring the adaptive stages

The College Board is still figuring out how to score the adaptive stages of the new digital SAT. 

As we’ve explained, a student’s performance on the first stage of each section will determine whether they get an easier or harder version of the second stage.

However, the question is how to measure the student’s performance on the first stage. The College Board could use a rights-based scoring system, where they simply tally the number of correct questions on the first stage. On the other hand, they could weight harder questions more when determining whether to give the easier or harder version for the second stage. They could even use more complicated algorithms! We’ll update this guide as soon as the College Board releases more information.

Question and answer services

One unfortunate change is that as far as we know, students will no longer be able to access their questions and answers from the exam. This is a shame, because the Question-and-Answer Service (QAS) is one of the most powerful tools for improving your score on the SAT. Students who can still take the paper SAT should take advantage of this tool while it’s still available!

Bonus Material: Find out when to take the SAT so that you can take the paper SAT before the major changes

Students won’t be given access to test questions from their SAT because the College Board will re-use some questions for future tests. In the past, the College Board has indirectly released three real tests per year via the Question-and-Answer Service. They will no longer do this. Instead, the College Board has indicated that they will roll out additional sample tests periodically. 

Counting the number of missed questions doesn’t make much sense for an adaptive test, because missing 8 questions on the hard version of the second stage means something different than missing 8 questions on the easy version of the second stage. For that reason, students will not even find out exactly how many questions they got right or wrong on the new digital SAT.


How to Prepare for the New Digital SAT

For the new digital SAT, the College Board has deepened their existing relationship with the educational nonprofit Khan Academy [link] to offer online practice that mimics the digital environment of the new SAT.

The digital SAT practice is now available on Khan Academy. There are full-length practice tests as well as practice questions and quizzes.

Currently, students setting up an account on Khan Academy are asked about their testing location (“in the US, Puerto Rico, or US Virgin Islands” or “outside the US”). Students who are taking the test internationally are then asked to confirm that they will be taking the SAT after March 2023, and then they’re directed to the new digital practice material.

Students in the US who are currently sophomores and who plan to take the test in the spring of their junior year, summer in between, or fall of their senior year (i.e. in spring 2024 onwards) will encounter the new digital SAT. However, Khan Academy currently doesn’t ask US students when they plan to take the test, and these students are currently not directed towards the digital practice material.

For this reason, students should be very careful that they are practicing with the correct version of the SAT. Download our handy guide to check whether you’ll take the current paper SAT or the new digital SAT (or both!) and how to schedule your test dates for the best advantages.


Is Anything Happening to the ACT?

SAT and ACT have historically been very similar tests [link to comparison post]. In most states, students take one or the other in-school, and for a while now the balance between the SAT and ACT has been roughly evenly split across the US.

Many students at least try both tests, in order to see if they score better on one test or the other — especially students aiming for highly competitive schools, who are looking for every extra little edge.

(We do recommend that students give both tests a try! You can do this at home by taking a timed full practice test. We regularly help our students [link] through this process.)

However, in the next two years the two tests are going in different directions. The SAT is going digital, adaptive, and shorter. Meanwhile, the ACT will stay the same for the next few years.

In the long run, the ACT is working on making their test a little less fast-paced. (Right now, the ACT feels much faster-paced than the SAT.)

We also know that the ACT is considering making their test shorter. They also haven’t ruled out moving to digital testing and adaptive scoring.

At least for now, though, the ACT is going to stay unchanged. They want to seem more “reliable” than the SAT, which keeps changing! 


Next Steps

Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide to check if the new digital SAT will affect you. For the next year or two, planning testing dates and locations will be more important than normal and have a huge impact on how to prepare for the SAT.

We’re also happy to provide a brief free test prep consultation with Jessica (Director of Tutoring) or one of our founders to see what would be the best fit for your family. 

Preparing for the SAT can be overwhelming in any year, and for the next few years it’s going to be especially challenging. Many tried-and-true test prep techniques and materials are going to suddenly be obsolete. Test strategies will need to adapt to the big changes on the new digital SAT.

More than ever, high-quality and up-to-date guidance will be vital. Our experienced Ivy-League tutors have helped thousands of students navigate preparing for the SAT and improving their scores. Our co-founder, Kevin, also offers a limited number of small-group SAT MasterClasses that help students to reach their full potential on the test.

To reserve a spot in a SAT MasterClass or start one-on-one SAT tutoring today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.

Will the new SAT affect me? Click to find out

Bonus Material: Check if the new digital SAT affects you + plan your optimal testing schedule


Related Articles

The Best SAT Prep Courses
Average SAT Scores: The Latest Data
Hardest SAT Math Questions
The Best SAT Online Tutoring
The 13 SAT Grammar Rules You Need to Know
SAT vs ACT: Everything You Need To Know
The SAT QAS: How to Use One of the Most Powerful Score-Boosting Tools
Converting SAT to ACT Scores (and vice versa)
When should you take the SAT or ACT?
10 Free Official SAT Practice Tests
How to Proctor Your Own SAT Practice Test
Your Complete SAT Guide for 2021

Bonus Material: Will the new SAT affect me? Download our short guide to find out



16 Best Online Tutoring Services — Reviewed & Ranked by an Ivy-League Expert

Online tutoring has existed for decades, but it has expanded rapidly since 2020 with the huge boom in online learning overall.

With online learning, students can work with the very best tutors in the nation, wherever they may be.

That said, not all online tutoring is equally effective. Some companies have taken advantage of the situation to rake in the profits with lackluster tutoring by untrained instructors.

Our Ivy-League educators have scoured the country and investigated the many online tutoring services that exist in 2022. 

We’ve carefully evaluated and ranked each tutoring service based on instructor background and training, pricing, and other features. 

Keep reading to learn about the top 16 online tutoring services in 2022!

What is the Best Online Tutoring Service?

  1. PrepMaven – best online tutoring overall
  2. Pearson’s Smarthinking – best large tutoring company
  3. Skooli – best super-quick tutoring
  4. Wyzant – alternative tutoring for families on a budget
  5. Learn To Be – best free tutoring (for qualifying families)
  6. Schoolhouse – best free peer math tutoring

The best of the rest:


Best Online Tutoring in 2022

#1 - PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Best Online Tutoring Overall

Price: $66–349/hour

PrepMaven offers high-quality one-on-one tutoring at an incredibly reasonable price, given the impressive qualifications of its instructors.

Nearly all of PrepMaven’s tutors are Ivy-League grads (with a few tutors from other top-30 universities), and many have prestigious masters or doctoral degrees. Tutors are also carefully vetted and evaluated on their ability to communicate and connect with students. PrepMaven’s individualized touch means that students are paired with tutors who match their personality traits and often share interests, allowing for a stronger level of connection that studies have shown leads to better learning outcomes.

PrepMaven’s experienced tutors can customize learning sessions to meet the needs of each individual student. Depending on the student’s goals, tutors can help students work through homework assignments, review material from class, or provide additional enrichment and challenge material. PrepMaven’s attentive tutors can find any gaps in a student’s knowledge and fill in those gaps to lay strong educational foundations.

PrepMaven’s elite tutors are also top-1% scorers on key college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT and can help students prepare for those exams. Students aiming at a private high school can also prepare for the SSAT or ISEE with their tutor.

PrepMaven’s tutors have a higher level of education than other tutors at most competitors, and can easily help students with advanced subjects like AP US History, AP Calculus, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics, and other challenging classes.

Founded by brothers and Princeton grads Greg and Kevin, PrepMaven focuses on delivering consistently high-quality tutoring to students. All tutors undergo a thorough training program and can use proprietary teaching materials to help students reach their goals.

To make high-quality tutoring accessible to more families, PrepMaven offers tutoring at several different price points. At the most affordable rate, students can work with current Ivy-League undergraduates with subject-area expertise. At higher rates, students can work with experienced coaches who hold advanced graduate degrees.

Best for:

PrepMaven’s one-on-one tutoring is the best option for any student wanting high-quality tutoring.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $66–349/hour, depending on tutor qualifications; minimum $450 package
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League tutors, all experienced and highly trained, some with master’s or doctoral degrees

What we like:

  • Ivy League experience — most of their tutors are Princeton grads or current students, with some from Harvard and other Ivies
  • Different pricing options to meet different families’ circumstances
  • Smaller, boutique company offers more individualized approach customized for each student
  • Able to cover advanced subjects, since tutors have Ivy-League backgrounds and have aced AP tests themselves

What we don’t like:

  • Because they take the time to pair each student with the tutor that will be the best fit, sessions are not instantaneous and usually it takes 1–3 days to schedule with an Ivy-League tutor

Princeton University
Princeton University

#2 - Pearson

Our Verdict — Best Big Tutoring Company

Price: $38–42/hour

Pearson’s name might sound familiar — they’re a massive publishing conglomerate. You may also have heard of them from the controversy that ensued when the standardized tests that they were commissioned to create for the state of New York were found to contain over 30 errors and invalidated (whoops!).

Pearson has brought their enormous resources to produce Smarthinking, an online tutoring platform. Tutoring is convenient and can be on-demand (with whichever tutor is currently available) or scheduled in advance, and is offered at reasonable prices. Our inside sources have mentioned that the Smarthinking platform itself is over two decades old and can be buggy, so we hope that Pearson updates their platform soon.

Pearson’s tutors have a stronger educational background than many of the other competitors, with 90% of their tutors holding a master’s degree or doctoral degree. However, Pearson pays its tutors below-market wages ($11–13/hr), so it’s difficult for them to retain good teaching talent. It’s not possible to view any specific information about their tutors. There is no requirement for tutors to have graduated from top schools.

Best for:

  • Pearon's Smarthinking is a good option for families who specifically want to work with a very large company.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $42 for one hour, $150 for 4 hours ($37.50/hr)
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates, 90% of whom also hold master’s degrees or doctoral degrees — but not necessarily not from top-tier universities

What we like:

  • Higher educational experience — most of their tutors hold advanced degrees
  • Instant tutoring — on-demand tutoring is available 24/7, and just enter your credit card information to start immediately
  • Reasonable pricing

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors aren’t necessarily from top schools, and it’s not possible to see any information about their tutors
  • Online tutoring platform is two decades old and has technological problems
  • Low pay means they struggle to retain good teaching talent

How can effective learning now pave the way for future success? Jump below.


#3 - Skooli

Our Verdict — Best Super-Quick Tutoring

Price: $39–49/hour

Skooli is a newer online tutoring platform and the only one we’ve found that offers tutoring charged by the minute.

Families can purchase packs for 8, 16, or 32 hours, or purchase individual hours. Students can then use these hours in as little as 15-minute increments. This might be handy for students who want to ask a tutor quick questions, and who don’t care about developing a relationship with a consistent tutor.

Tutors for Skooli have college degrees, but haven’t necessarily graduated from a top-tier school. It’s not possible to see more details about individual tutors until after giving credit card details.

Their online interface is slick and modern, although according to our inside sources it crashes frequently.

Best for:

  • Students who want to work with a tutor to answer quick questions (sessions as short as 15 minutes).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $1248 for 32 hours ($39/hr), $672 for 16 hours ($42/hr), $352 per 8 hours ($44/hr), or $49/hour for individual hours, billed by the minute ($0.82/minute, minimum 15 minutes)
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Tutoring available in very short increments, with a minimum session length of just 15 minutes
  • Instant tutoring — on-demand tutoring is available 24/7, and just enter your credit card information to start immediately
  • Reasonable pricing

What we don’t like:

  • Students can’t work with the same tutor consistently, which is less effective for learning
  • Tutors aren’t necessarily from top schools, and it’s not possible to see any information about their tutors
  • Online tutoring platform has some technological problems and crashes frequently

#4 - Wyzant

Our Verdict — Alternative for Families on a Budget

Price: $20–600/hour

There are plenty of large platforms with large stables of part-time tutors and coaches available to work with students. Wyzant is one of the largest such platforms, with more than 65,000 tutors providing services through their website. Students and families can pick individual tutors to work with from their roster and arrange tutoring services directly.

One benefit of this model is that tutors can set their own rates, which vary hugely. Families on a budget can find online writing tutors as low as $20 per hour.

However, these tutors might not have any teaching experience or training, and they may not have graduated from a top school. Some tutors on Wyzant with more qualifications may have much higher rates — as high as $600 per hour!

Best for:

  • Families on a budget who are willing to work with a freelance tutor directly.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $20–600/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: varies

What we like:

  • Marketplace platform means that some tutors list low rates for tutoring, which can make tutoring more affordable
  • Families can choose their own tutor directly out of over 65,900 tutors listed

What we don’t like:

  • No training for tutors — which leads to uneven quality of instruction
  • Families are hiring individual tutors, which means tutor qualifications vary enormously, and there are no guarantees
  • Choosing the right tutor out of 65,000+ is one more task for busy families

What can students learn with online tutoring? Read more below.


#6 - Learn to Be

Our Verdict — Best Free Tutoring (for qualifying families)

Price: free (or voluntary contribution of $9–30 per month)

Learn to Be is a fantastic non-profit organization improving education for underserved youth in the US. Students work with the same tutor consistently, which allows them to build a strong relationship and allows for mentoring as well as learning.

Students working with Learn to Be have seen an average increase in test scores of 15.8% and an average GPA increase of 1.6 — nearly two full letter grades (for example from a C to an A-)! Tutors are volunteers who are passionate about educational equity, and range from current high school and college students to professionals or retirees.

The program works primarily with foster youth, homeless youth, and other lower-income families. Possible qualifications for free tutoring with Learn to Be include: student attends a Title 1 school, receives free or reduced lunch at school, comes from a single-parent home, is a foster child, is homeless, or qualifies for food stamps. It’s possible to work with a Spanish-speaking tutor through Learn to Be.

Best for:

  • Students who qualify for free tutoring (foster youth or low-income families).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $0
  • Tutor qualifications: varies

What we like:

  • Non-profit helping underserved youth
  • Completely free tutoring for qualifying families
  • Students work with the same tutor consistently, which builds trust and leads to a better individualized educational experience

What we don’t like:

  • Tutor qualifications vary — some tutors are high school students as young as 14 years old, and all tutors are volunteers
  • Only for qualifying youth in the US (low income or foster youth)

#7 - Schoolhouse

Our Verdict — Best Free Peer Math Tutoring

Price: free

While Learn to Be provides free or low-cost tutoring to only qualifying families, Schoolhouse is free and available to any student age 13+.

Created by Sal Khan, who is also the founder of well-known educational non-profit Khan Academy, Schoolhouse is an innovative platform for peer tutoring.

Students who are strong in math can take a short test to check their knowledge. Qualified students can then volunteer to host small-group tutoring sessions online to help their peers who might be struggling.

Schoolhouse’s peer tutoring is designed to reinforce and practice what students are learning in school. There’s no adult or experienced instructor leading the tutoring sessions, and all sessions are in groups open to any student worldwide to join, so we wouldn’t recommend it for students who need targeted help learning specific math concepts. However, it can be a fun way for students to practice math alongside their peers.

Best for:

  • Students age 13+ who want to practice math problems in a group with their peers.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $0
  • Tutor qualifications: current students age 13+ — students take a quiz to prove their knowledge but no other required qualifications

What we like:

  • Completely free and open to any student worldwide age 13+
  • Students can work with their student peers, which some might find more approachable

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors are other young students and have no experience or qualifications
  • Small-group setting doesn’t provide individual attention to students
  • Not a substitute for learning guided by an experienced instructor
  • Only math, and not other subjects

Read below: how strong grades & test scores are essential for college admissions


Best of the Rest for Online Tutoring

#7 - Princeton Review / Tutor.com

Our Verdict — Disappointing Quality from Test-Prep Giant

Price: $60–75/hour for scheduled tutoring, minimum package $450; lower-quality instant tutoring at $26–35/hour, minimum package $350; monthly subscription instant tutoring at $36–40/hour

Back in 2014, Tutor.com acquired the well-known test-prep company The Princeton Review.

(Note that the Princeton Review has no connection to Princeton University.)

They now offer subject-area tutoring in over 80 different academic areas. The range of tutoring options is a little confusing, but it basically breaks down to three different models: families can choose between (1) packages of 6–60 scheduled tutoring hours with more highly-qualified tutors through “The Academy”, (2) one-off tutoring packages of 10–50 “instant tutoring” hours that can be used over a six-month period, or (3) a monthly subscription for 1–5 instant tutoring hours each month. Tutors are available 24/7 for instant sessions.

For students enrolled in The Academy’s scheduled tutoring sessions with packages of 24 hours ($1620) or 60 hours ($3600), they advertise a “guaranteed A.” This promise turns out to be a little deceptive, as the guaranteed “A” only applies to students who already have at least a B; for students who start with a B- or lower the guarantee is for one full letter grade. For students who work with a tutor through their Homework Help packages at least 2 hours each month for 3 months in one subject, they guarantee a grade increase of at least a half-step letter grade. (This guarantee doesn’t apply for students who already have an A- or A.) Of course, there’s a lot of additional rules in the fine print for these guarantees!

Unfortunately, we were disappointed with the quality of this offering from The Princeton Review. In contrast to their operations for standardized test prep (like SAT and ACT prep), their platform for subject-area tutoring does not provide instructors with training, so there’s very little consistency. Tutors are also capped at 2 or 3 sessions per day, so they’re by design part-time instructors who are teaching a little on the side.

While The Princeton Review / Tutor.com claims to count Ivy grads and experts with advanced degrees among their tutors, we found this to be misleading. Most of their tutors have only a BA, and most have graduated from local schools that are not even in the top 200 universities. Pay for tutors is minimum wage, so it’s difficult for them to attract good teaching talent.

Surprisingly for The Princeton Review, their subject-area tutoring is a tutoring marketplace platform (similar to Wyzant). Families select individual tutors to work with based on their bios and arrange the tutoring sessions individually. For us, this obviates the point of working with a large company like Princeton Review, where in theory the advantage is quality control and a standard curriculum, even if it comes with a more corporate feel. With this marketplace model, tutor quality and qualifications vary considerably, especially given that tutors do not receive any training or teaching materials.

Our inside sources tell us that their online teaching platform is outdated and has many technological bugs that make it crash frequently, and at least one year ago it only worked on PCs, not Macs!

At a glance:

  • Cost: The Academy tutoring packages: $450 for 6 hours ($60/hr), $1620 for 24 hours ($67.50/hr), or $3600 for 60 hours ($60/hr); Homework Help packages that can be used over a period of 6 months: $350 for 10 hours ($35/hr), $950 for 30 hours ($32/hr), or $1450 for 50 hours ($26/hr); Homework Help tutoring subscriptions: $40 for 1 hour each month, $115 for 3 hours each month ($38/hr), or $180 for 5 hours each month ($36/hr)
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Reasonable pricing for tutoring and a range of payment models
  • Tutors are available 24/7 for instant Homework Help packages

What we don’t like:

  • Tutor qualifications vary — most are from local or state schools, not competitive colleges
  • Online platform is buggy and crashes frequently
  • Challenging for them to attract good teaching talent as pay is minimum wage
  • Low quality of teaching, surprising for a big-name player in test prep

#8 - ArborBridge

Our Verdict: Pricey Service with Mystery Tutors

Price: $165+/hour, minimum package $2400 for 15 hours

Featuring crisp, minimalist visuals and a younger team, ArborBridge calls itself “the next generation of test prep.” They’ve always been remote and online, so they haven’t suffered the growing pains with the shift to online learning that many competitors with outdated platforms (like Pearson and Princeton Review) have experienced.

That said, their tutoring is quite expensive! Their rate is always at least $160 per hour, and the minimum package is a hefty $2400 for 15 hours of tutoring. They also advertise a “concierge” tutoring service with a more customized experience — price upon request.

Is it worth the price? We’re not so sure.

ArborBridge claims to have hired the “best” tutors but they do not list any specific qualifications for their tutors or provide any bios for their tutor roster. On their (slightly-defunct) Instagram page they have provided some fun facts about a few of their tutors, but they don’t list any educational background, years of experience, or relevant professional credentials, just favorite foods and television shows. There’s no indication that their tutors have graduated from top colleges, have teaching experience, or any other relevant qualifications — unlike services like PrepMaven or Tutoring Service of New York that only hire Ivy-League tutors. In fact, our sources have mentioned that their tutors don’t receive much training prior to teaching.

They also, unlike the Princeton Review, don’t offer any guarantees for raising grades or scores.

In the end, we’re not sure why ArborBridge has such high prices without offering particularly high-quality tutoring in return. Their website looks nice, though!

At a glance:

  • Cost: $160/hour, minimum package is $2400 for 15 hours (+ 1 bonus hour); $4800 for 30 hours (+ 3 bonus hours); $7200 for 45 hours (+ 6 bonus hours) — or “concierge tutoring” with “highest level of hands-on care,” price upon request
  • Tutor qualifications: unknown

What we like:

  • Known for good customer service
  • Younger, more modern tutoring service that’s built with technology from the get-go

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive, with a minimum cost of $2400 for 15 hours of tutoring
  • No information about tutor qualifications provided
  • No guarantees for grade or score raises
  • Seems more design than substance

#9 - Learner

Our Verdict — Tutoring that Includes ESL Learners

Price: $55–80/hour, minimum $400 package

Learner is another newer online tutoring platform. Unlike many of the other services on this list, Learner also provides tutoring services to adults, especially for non-native English speakers.

While they advertise that their tutors have degrees from “top universities,” it seems that the only necessary qualification for tutors at Learner is a college degree (not just from top schools).

We found their sign-up sequence to be frustrating. New clients start by answering a series of questions about their students. While it repeatedly seems like they’ll show a selection of tutors that may be a match, this is a bait-and-switch tactic, and they never display any actual tutor profiles. Instead, new clients must first make a payment before they can view any tutor details.

Learner has a “satisfaction guarantee,” which simply means that they’ll allow families to request a switch to another tutor if it’s not a good fit.

Their rates are on the pricier side for “average” tutors who do not have teaching experience or degrees from elite universities.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $400 for 5 hours ($80/hour), $700 for 10 hours ($70/hour), $1200 for 20 hours ($60/hour), or $1650 for 30 hours ($55/hour)
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Explicitly offers tutoring for ESL learners

What we don’t like:

  • No specific tutor qualifications beyond a college degree
  • Prices are high given quality of service

#10 - Revolution Prep

Our Verdict — Individual and Small-Group Tutoring Online

Price: $116/hour, minimum $1398 for 12 hours

Revolution Prep is a larger platform providing online tutoring with a focus on interactive learning.

Revolution Prep is one of the only services that we researched that offers small-group tutoring in addition to one-on-one tutoring. This allows them to provide tutoring with up to three students at a time for a lower price of $40/hour (minimum purchase of $199 for 5 hours). This rate might be more budget-friendly for families than their individual tutoring, which has a hefty minimum purchase of $1398 for 12 hours.

Their individual tutoring rate of $116/hour is quite high, especially given the backgrounds of their instructors. While we like that all of their tutors are full-time staff, versus tutoring part-time alongside another career, their tutors do not have any other specific qualifications. These rates are comparable or higher than other services that provide more customized learning with Ivy-League tutors, like PrepMaven or select tutors on Wyzant.

At a glance:

  • Cost: individual tutoring $116/hour, minimum $1398 for 12 hours; small-group tutoring $40/hour, minimum $199 for 5 hours; group classes $499 for 12 hours
  • Tutor qualifications: none specified

What we like:

  • All tutors are full-time staff
  • Small-group tutoring provides lower prices

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualifications for tutors
  • Tutoring rates are high for the type of service

#11 - Tutoring Service of New York

Our Verdict — New Service with Higher Minimum Package

Price: $112–160/hour ($1200 5-session minimum)

Founded by a former tutor with the now-defunct Ivy Global tutoring service, the new Tutoring Service of New York offers subject-area tutoring online.

Most of their tutors are current graduate students, many at Columbia University and NYU. The higher prices of the Tutoring Service of New York reflect the more elite educational background of the tutors. However, their minimum of $1200 for at least 5 sessions is high, especially since many other services have smaller minimum packages (compare $510 minimum at PrepMaven or $450 minimum at The Princeton Review), or else allow families to purchase one-off tutoring sessions (Pearson, Skooli, and others).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $1200 for five 90-minute sessions; $2000 for 10 sessions; $2700 for 16 sessions
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates, mostly current graduate students at Columbia or NYU

What we like:

  • Qualified tutors with mostly Ivy-League backgrounds

What we don’t like:

  • New service, so client reviews are still limited
  • Higher minimum tutoring packages

#12 - Mathnasium

Our Verdict — Tutoring Franchise to Help with Math Homework

Price: varies (franchise), typically $200–425/month

Math is one of the most important core subjects, and so it’s not surprising that there are learning programs devoted specifically to math.

Mathnasium is a franchise with locations throughout the US and even internationally. As their name might suggest, they’re focused on fostering math skills only. Pricing varies by franchise location and by grade level, but most Mathnasium centers offer a flat monthly fee that allows students to attend math tutoring sessions regularly (whether online or in person), usually two or three times per week.

While other programs might focus on drills and exercises, Mathnasium typically focuses on helping students with their math homework and other math assignments. Mathnasium does not assign homework or create customized curricula for students.

One significant downside of Mathnasium’s approach is that students do not necessarily get to work with the same tutor each time. This disrupts continuity and makes it harder for students to learn, since a good tutor will track students’ progress over time and create assignments that target the needs of each individual student. There are also no specific qualifications for math tutors, so there’s no guarantee that the tutors are great teachers or have a high level of expertise in math.

Since each of the Mathnasium centers is locally owned and operated, the customer service experience can vary significantly.

At a glance:

  • Cost: varies (franchise), typically $200–425/month (costs are higher for high school levels)
  • Math tutor qualifications: none specified

What we like:

  • Focus on math, and can help students understand their math homework and other school assignments

What we don’t like:

  • Tutoring isn’t necessarily one-on-one
  • Not the same tutor every time, which is not ideal for learning
  • Covers only math, while some other tutoring services can provide tutoring for other subjects as well
  • Tutors do not have any specific qualifications

#13 - Kumon

Our Verdict — Tutoring Franchise Drilling Math and Reading Basics

Price: varies (franchise), typically $100–200/month

Kumon is an international tutoring franchise that focuses on reaching math and reading through rote memorization.

Founded by Toru Kumon in Japan in 1958, Kumon centers all follow the same learning approach based on worksheets that very gradually increase in difficulty. Students enrolled in Kumon’s program begin with a diagnostic assessment for math and reading comprehension skills. They are then usually placed in a level lower than where they scored, so that they can reinforce existing skills with additional practice. However, this also means that students have to spend time on material that they have already learned.

Students at Kumon are not able to bring in homework or material from their current classes for additional help. Instead, all Kumon sessions focus on the rigid Kumon material. The goal of the Kumon Method  is “to teach students to learn independently,” and so instructors observe students as they complete worksheets and provide guidance.

Students are also assigned homework from Kumon, in order to continue practicing at home. Students typically receive about 30 minutes of homework per day.

Since each of the Kumon centers is locally owned and operated, the customer service experience can vary significantly.

Pricing also varies by location, but runs typically about $100–200 per month. Students are encouraged to attend Kumon sessions twice per week.

At a glance:

  • Cost: varies (franchise), typically $100–200/month (costs are higher for high school levels)
  • Tutor qualifications: high school graduates

What we like:

  • Repetition of core skills can lead to a thorough understanding of the basics

What we don’t like:

  • Rigid curriculum is not personalized for the learning styles and speeds of each student
  • Rote repetition and endless worksheets may be boring or frustrating for students
  • Students can’t bring in outside homework for help with their current classes
  • Assigns a lot of extra work for students (typically 30 minutes of homework daily)

#14 - Varsity Tutors

Our Verdict — Uneven Quality Without Budget Pricing

Price: $60–95/hour

Varsity Tutors is an enormous tutoring platform offering online instruction in all academic subjects and test prep, including writing. These days their marketing has been ubiquitous!

However, Varsity Tutors' size has many downsides — most notably, very uneven quality of teaching.

Tutors at Varsity need only a high school degree, and there is no requirement for tutors to have a college degree or teaching experience, let alone a top-tier educational background or professional writing credentials.

Tutors can join the Varsity team very quickly and are paid lower rates than nearly any other tutoring company (just $12–15 for sessions that cost families up to $95), so it’s difficult for Varsity to attract and retain good talent. Lucky families might get assigned a good tutor, but that’s not at all assured.

Varsity Tutors also does not provide any tutor materials, curriculum, or training, so it’s up to individual tutors to create everything from scratch, contributing further to the unevenness of quality.

With rates higher than the competition with similar types of tutors (no specific qualifications beyond a college degree), Varsity is significantly overpriced. We’d recommend that families either consider a more budget-friendly option that would offer the same quality as Varsity in the $30–40/hour price range, or else consider a service like PrepMaven (starting at $66/hour) or Tutoring Service of New York (starting at $112/hour) that pairs students with highly-qualified tutors with advanced degrees and Ivy-League backgrounds.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $60–95/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: high school graduates

What we like:

  • Large number of tutors, so certain to find a tutor to fit your schedule

What we don’t like:

  • No education or training requirements for tutors, along with low pay rates for instructors, means tutors are less-qualified than alternative tutoring services
  • Uneven teaching quality due to lack of resources for instruction
  • Overpriced given the lack of required qualifications for tutors

#15 - Preply

Our Verdict — Lower-Cost Tutoring Marketplace Platform

Price: $10–40/hour

Preply is a lower-cost marketplace platform. It’s significantly smaller than Wyzant.

Among those tutors listed, most don’t have high educational backgrounds. Preply is a more international platform, and some of the tutors are from other countries or located outside the US.

One benefit of Preply’s platform is that rates are very low, ranging from $10/hour to $40/hour. These rates are actually comparable or higher than the pay rates for most of the larger platforms on our list (like Pearson, The Princeton Review, Varsity Tutors, and TutaPoint), so don’t necessarily take these numbers on their own as indications of lower quality — just that tutors are earning a larger share.

That said, the tutoring available through Preply does appear to be lower-quality than other options.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $10–40/hour, depending on rates set by individual tutors
  • Tutor qualifications: varies

What we like:

  • Families can choose individual tutors on their marketplace platform

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualifications for tutors and no quality control
  • Task of choosing the right tutor can be stressful

#16 - Chegg

Our Verdict — Message Board Help with Math Questions and Essays

Price: $20 per month

Chegg is one of the biggest tutoring platforms, so families may be familiar with their name already. We should note that they’ve pivoted several times in the past few years, so their service may have changed from what families have read.

Whereas previously (first as InstaEDU, then as Chegg Tutors) Chegg offered live tutoring instruction online, Chegg no longer offers one-on-one tutoring.

Instead, they now offer two subscription levels that allow students to view instructional videos, access answer keys for common textbooks, and receive asynchronous written feedback to homework questions. These questions are primarily answered by “subject matter experts” located in India.

Their “Chegg Study Pack” includes the option to submit papers for limited written feedback with a 48-hour turnaround time. Students can submit up to 15 short papers per month, up to 3000 words each (about 6 pages double-spaced).

That said, this is not the same as active writing tutoring with live discussion and exercises directly with a tutor. The written feedback provided by Chegg’s essay review service is limited. Moreover, the essay reviews are done by different tutors every time, so there’s no opportunity to grow through working with one tutor consistently.

This service might work for students who want merely a quick check of their grammar or other small details on school assignments and don’t care about long-term improvements as a writer. Read more about the best online writing tutoring services here.

With their Chegg Study Pack subscription, students can also post up to 20 math questions per month and receive a written step-by-step solution to the problem within 24 hours.

This is not the same as active tutoring with live discussion and exercises directly with a tutor. The written math help provided by Chegg’s essay review service is very limited. Moreover, the math problem answers are written by different tutors every time, so there’s no opportunity to grow through working with one tutor consistently.

Honestly, this service is little better than posting a math question to a helpful community forum, and it’s hard to see how it’s worth the monthly subscription fee.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $15 per month for Chegg Study subscription, which provides homework resources only; $20 per month for Chegg Study Pack subscription which provides essay reviews (up to 15 short papers per month, up to 3000 words each) and math question help in addition to the homework resources
  • Tutor qualifications: none specified

What we like:

  • Students can get help with specific math questions within a 24-hour turnaround time
  • Large number of written essay reviews per month, up to 15 short essays

What we don’t like:

  • Limited to 20 math questions per month
  • Asynchronous, written feedback is not an effective way to learn
  • No education or training requirements for tutors, and no information about who the essay or math question reviewers are

Top 75 Online Tutoring Services Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • Pearson’s Smarthinking
  • Skooli
  • Wyzant
  • Learn To Be
  • Tutor.com/The Princeton Review
  • Learner
  • Club Z! Tutoring
  • Sylvan Learning
  • Varsity Tutors
  • Yup
  • Tutor Doctor
  • Schoolhouse
  • Mathnasium
  • Kumon
  • Revolution Prep
  • Prodigy
  • Chegg
  • Paper
  • TutaPoint
  • Preply
  • Kaplan
  • TutorMe
  • StudyPoint
  • Lehman Tutoring Center
  • Spires
  • TeacherOn
  • UPchieve – free tutoring for underserved youth in the US
  • SpecialEdTutoring.com
  • Outschool 
  • Suprex Learning
  • Superprof
  • UniversityTutor.com
  • Huntington Learning Center
  • MathTowne
  • Cluey Learning
  • Galaxy Grades
  • Clever Fox Education
  • Nurturing Wisdom
  • Themba Tutors
  • Tutoring Service of New York
  • Kaplan Tutoring Services (not Kaplan)
  • ArborBridge
  • INC Education – focus on BIPOC kids
  • Central Park Tutors
  • Special Education Resource
  • Parallel
  • Aralia
  • Prepclass
  • Studypool
  • Remind Tutoring
  • eTutorWorld
  • Growing Stars
  • eTutor.co
  • TutorEye
  • Wize
  • Tutorful
  • GoPeer
  • Takelesson
  • Zeqr
  • Clascity
  • Revision Centre
  • Tutor House
  • Fleet House
  • Superprof
  • First Tutors
  • MyTutor
  • Teach9
  • TutorClass
  • Bigfoot Tutors
  • Owl Tutors
  • Keystone Tutors
  • Mentor Education
  • Kings Tutors
  • Think Academy


What can students learn with online tutoring?

Students can find online tutoring for any subject, from fundamentals in reading, writing, and math to advanced high school APs or college-level subjects.

Of course, many tutoring services offer SAT and ACT test prep or coaching through the college essay writing process

Online tutoring has also allowed students to connect with tutors for more niche subjects like creative writing, Italian language, statistical analysis, coding, gender studies, molecular biology, the sociology of fan fiction… with the internet, it’s possible to find a specialized instructor for just about anything!

Some marketplace platforms like Wyzant or Preply allow families to search for and select individual tutors by subject-area expertise.

Other more boutique educational services like PrepMaven or the Tutoring Service of New York might be able to find and pair students with an elite Ivy-League tutor in that particular subject.

An experienced tutor can also create enrichment projects for students to supplement their school curriculum and provide positive challenges and growth opportunities that can allow students to distinguish themselves in prestigious competitions and on college applications.

As class sizes continue to increase each year, even well-meaning teachers are unable to provide individualized attention to their students, and more advanced or gifted students are often left feeling bored and unchallenged in their classes. A great tutor can meet a student at their level and help them reach new heights.


Building Skills for College Admissions Tests (PSAT, SAT, and ACT)

Many students are focused on college admissions, which can have a significant impact on their opportunities for the rest of their lives.

The SAT and ACT standardized tests remain an important part of college applications in the US. Even with some schools creating temporary test-optional admissions policies during the Covid-19 pandemic, high test scores are still the norm at top schools throughout the US, and (apart from at a small handful of test-blind schools) a good SAT or ACT score will always improve a student’s chances of admission.

Both the SAT and ACT measure “college readiness” and test students on their abilities in math, reading, and writing. The ACT also includes a section on science, which focuses on students’ abilities to evaluate experiments and interpret data.

SAT section range from 200 to 800. To give an idea of what kind of SAT scores students might need, the average SAT score at the Ivy League is between 1450 and 1570, and the average SAT score at the top 50 public universities is between 1320 and 1500.

Meanwhile, ACT scores range from 2 to 36, and the average ACT score at the Ivy League is between 33 and 35.

While a great SAT or ACT score alone won’t get you into the Ivy League or another top-tier university, it’s very hard to get into a top-tier school without strong scores on the SAT or ACT.

Furthermore, high test scores can win students big scholarships through programs like the National Merit competition.

With scholarships worth $300,000 on the line, there’s a lot of incentive for students to strengthen their core math, reading, and writing skills!


Why work with a private tutor?

You may want to consider a working with a private tutor if:

  • You want to improve your grades in your classes at school
  • You want to build confidence in your abilities to learn
  • You want to get into a private school and need a good score on the SSAT or ISEE
  • Your current teacher isn’t meeting your learning needs and you want to work with an instructor who is hand-picked to match your learning style
  • You want to improve your performance on AP tests to earn college credit while in high school (and impress college admissions officers)
  • You want to improve your performance on important college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT
  • You’re tired of conflict between students and parents about homework and you want someone else to take charge of tracking assignments and progress
  • You’re aiming at a competitive college (not just the Ivy League!) and know that you need high test scores
  • You want to learn foundational skills in math and writing now so you can succeed in your later career
  • You know that if you develop strong math skills now, you’ll do better on every STEM-related class, assignment, and exam for the rest of your life!
  • You know that if you develop strong writing skills now, you’ll find written exams a breeze from now on
  • You need to write college application essays but you’re not sure where to start or how best to highlight your accomplishments for a competitive advantage
  • You want to pursue a specific interest or passion that isn’t covered by your school 
  • You want to earn scholarships and awards

Any of these are good reasons to consider working one-on-one with a private tutor.


What makes a good online tutor?

A good tutor should be an amazing teacher with experience, a strong educational background, and the ability to plan customized exercises that target an individual student’s weak spots.

Look for experienced tutors with strong educational backgrounds (i.e. who attended top universities) who have specific training in teaching that subject.

Studies have shown that students will learn better when they can establish a relationship with their tutor. Look for a tutoring service where students can continue with the same tutor and build a sense of rapport.

A good tutor can help students to succeed on any homework and assignments they may have for school. They can teach students how to work through their homework and study for important tests.

Great tutors will track student progress and help students to build confidence and motivation. We’ve found that many of our students start to enjoy school much more after working with our elite tutors!


Summary

Best overall: The one-on-one tutoring from PrepMaven is the best out there both in terms of tutor quality and price. While PrepMaven’s tutors can certainly help with school assignments, they can also create targeted practice to fill any gaps in a student’s current knowledge. Starting at just $66/hour, students can work with current undergraduates at Princeton, Harvard, and other Ivy-League universities to improve their skills. Families can also work with experienced, professional educators and Ivy-League graduates at $149/hour. As a boutique tutoring service, PrepMaven offers careful attention to each student and boasts amazing customer reviews.

Best of the big companies: The Smarthinking platform developed by publishing giant Pearson provides reasonably-priced tutoring both on-demand and scheduled in advance, and it’s better than the tutoring provided by other large companies. Their tutors have a higher level of education than many other options — the majority hold advanced degrees. That said, most of their tutors aren’t from top-tier universities, and they struggle to keep good teachers. In addition, their online platform is older and prone to crashing.

Best super-quick tutoring: If students want short-term tutoring available instantly, they might consider Skooli. Skooli is the only tutoring service we reviewed that offers tutoring by the minute. Tutors aren’t necessarily from top schools, and students can’t work with the same tutor consistently, so the quality of tutoring is lower, but on-demand tutoring can start as soon as you enter your credit card details.

Alternative for families on a budget: For families on a tighter budget, we’d suggest looking for an independent tutor on Wyzant. It’s a tutoring marketplace platform, so the quality varies hugely and there’s no oversight or qualification requirements, but you might find a decent tutor under $40/hour.
However, in our experience a good tutor can accomplish more with a student in one hour than an average tutor can do in five hours. With that in mind, it might be more effective to choose fewer hours of reliably high-quality tutoring.

Cornell University
Cornell University


Next steps

Ready to improve skills with one of our experienced tutors? Schedule a free tutoring consultation with Jessica (Director of Tutoring) or one of our founders to see what would be the best fit for your family.

Regardless of your current abilities and planned career path, building a strong educational foundation will pay dividends throughout your life.

Remember that high test scores can be used to earn scholarships as well as college admission, so a few months of tutoring now can pay off with up to $300,000 in tuition saved later.

To start working with an Ivy-League tutor today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.


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…and more on our blog!



math chalkboard

17 Best Online Math Tutoring Services — Reviewed & Ranked by an Ivy-League Educator

Math is a core skill that is essential for success in high school and college, as well as many graduate programs and future careers. A recent Georgetown study found that strong math skills are essential to success in a whopping 70% of jobs in the US. 

Math knowledge builds on itself. Once students fall just a little bit behind, they quickly find that they’re not equipped for their new assignments. Students become frustrated and start to feel that they’re “just not good at math.”

Parents might want to help their students, but that’s time-consuming and has its own frustrations — not to mention, many parents might find their algebra skills a little rusty!

That’s where math tutoring can save the day. 

Fortunately, the rise of online learning has increased the number of tutoring services available, regardless of your geographic location.

We’ve used our decades of experience in education to evaluate 50 different options for math tutoring and ranked the top 17 services in 2022.

What is the Best Online Math Tutoring Service?

  1. PrepMaven – best online math tutoring overall
  2. Pearson’s Smarthinking – best large tutoring company
  3. Skooli – best super-quick math tutoring
  4. Wyzant – alternative math tutoring for families on a budget
  5. Khan Academy – best free math learning resources
  6. Learn To Be – best free math tutoring (for qualifying families)
  7. Schoolhouse – best free peer math tutoring

The best of the rest:

  1. Tutor.com / The Princeton Review – disappointing quality from test-prep giant
  2. ArborBridge – pricey service with mystery tutors
  3. Learner – math tutoring that includes ESL learners
  4. Revolution Prep – individual and small-group tutoring online
  5. Mathnasium – tutoring franchise with to help with math homework
  6. Kumon – tutoring franchise drilling math and reading basics
  7. Varsity Tutors – uneven quality at higher prices
  8. Tutoring Service of New York – new service with higher minimum package
  9. Preply – lower-cost tutoring marketplace platform
  10. Chegg – message board help with math questions
student working on math problem


Best Online Math Tutoring in 2022

#1 - PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Best Online Math Tutoring Overall

Price: $66–349/hour

PrepMaven offers high-quality one-on-one tutoring at an incredibly reasonable price, given the impressive qualifications of its instructors.

Nearly all of PrepMaven’s tutors are Ivy-League grads (with a few tutors from other top-30 universities), and many have prestigious degrees in math and related STEM fields. Tutors are also carefully vetted and evaluated on their ability to communicate and connect with students. PrepMaven’s individualized touch means that students are paired with tutors who match their personality traits and often share interests, allowing for a stronger level of connection that studies have shown leads to better learning outcomes.

PrepMaven’s experienced tutors can customize learning sessions to meet the needs of each individual student. Depending on the student’s goals, tutors can help students work through homework assignments, review material from class, or provide additional enrichment and challenge material. PrepMaven’s attentive tutors can find any gaps in a student’s knowledge and fill in those gaps to lay strong math foundations.

PrepMaven’s elite tutors are also top-1% scorers on key college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT and can help students prepare for the math portions of those exams. Students aiming at a private high school can also prepare for the SSAT or ISEE with their tutor.

PrepMaven’s math tutors have a higher level of math knowledge than other tutors at most competitors, and can easily help students with advanced math like AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Physics, and other challenging classes.

Founded by brothers and Princeton grads Greg and Kevin, PrepMaven focuses on delivering consistently high-quality tutoring to students. All tutors undergo a thorough training program and can use proprietary teaching materials to help students reach their goals.

To make high-quality tutoring accessible to more families, PrepMaven offers tutoring at several different price points. At the most affordable rate, students can work with current Ivy-League undergraduates who specialize in math. At higher rates, students can work with experienced coaches who hold advanced graduate degrees.

Best for:

PrepMaven’s one-on-one tutoring is the best option for any student wanting high-quality math tutoring.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $66–349/hour, depending on tutor qualifications; minimum $450 package
  • Math tutor qualifications: Ivy-League tutors, all experienced and highly trained, some with master’s or doctoral degrees

What we like:

  • Ivy League experience — most of their math tutors are Princeton grads or current students, with some from Harvard and other Ivies
  • Different pricing options to meet different families’ circumstances
  • Smaller, boutique company offers more individualized approach customized for each student
  • Able to cover advanced math subjects just as easily as basic math, since tutors have Ivy-League math skills

What we don’t like:

  • Because they take the time to pair each student with the tutor that will be the best fit, sessions are not instantaneous and usually it takes 1–3 days to schedule with an Ivy-League tutor

Princeton University
Math department at Princeton University

#2 - Pearson

Our Verdict — Best Big Tutoring Company

Price: $38–42/hour

Pearson’s name might sound familiar — they’re a massive publishing conglomerate. You may also have heard of them from the controversy that ensued when the standardized tests that they were commissioned to create for the state of New York were found to contain over 30 errors and invalidated (whoops!).

Pearson has brought their enormous resources to produce Smarthinking, an online tutoring platform. Tutoring is convenient and can be on-demand (with whichever tutor is currently available) or scheduled in advance, and is offered at reasonable prices. Our inside sources have mentioned that the Smarthinking platform itself is over two decades old and can be buggy, so we hope that Pearson updates their platform soon.

Pearson’s tutors have a stronger educational background than many of the other competitors, with 90% of their tutors holding a master’s degree or doctoral degree. However, Pearson pays its tutors below-market wages ($11–13/hr), so it’s difficult for them to retain good teaching talent. It’s not possible to view any specific information about their tutors. There is no requirement for tutors to have graduated from top schools.

Best for:

  • Pearon's Smarthinking is a good option for families who specifically want to work with a very large company.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $42 for one hour, $150 for 4 hours ($37.50/hr)
  • Math tutor qualifications: college graduates, 90% of whom also hold master’s degrees or doctoral degrees — but not necessarily not from top-tier universities

What we like:

  • Higher educational experience — most of their math tutors hold advanced degrees
  • Instant tutoring — on-demand tutoring is available 24/7, and just enter your credit card information to start immediately
  • Reasonable pricing

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors aren’t necessarily from top schools, and it’s not possible to see any information about their tutors
  • Online tutoring platform is two decades old and has technological problems
  • Low pay means they struggle to retain good teaching talent
student working on math problem

Why are math skills key for future success? Jump below.


#3 - Skooli

Our Verdict — Best Super-Quick Math Tutoring

Price: $39–49/hour

Skooli is a newer online tutoring platform and the only one we’ve found that offers tutoring charged by the minute.

Families can purchase packs for 8, 16, or 32 hours, or purchase individual hours. Students can then use these hours in as little as 15-minute increments. This might be handy for students who want to ask a tutor quick questions, and who don’t care about developing a relationship with a consistent tutor.

Tutors for Skooli have college degrees, but haven’t necessarily graduated from a top-tier school. It’s not possible to see more details about individual tutors until after giving credit card details.

Their online interface is slick and modern, although according to our inside sources it crashes frequently.

Best for:

  • Students who want to work with a tutor to answer quick questions about math (sessions as short as 15 minutes).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $1248 for 32 hours ($39/hr), $672 for 16 hours ($42/hr), $352 per 8 hours ($44/hr), or $49/hour for individual hours, billed by the minute ($0.82/minute, minimum 15 minutes)
  • Math tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Tutoring available in very short increments, with a minimum session length of just 15 minutes
  • Instant tutoring — on-demand tutoring is available 24/7, and just enter your credit card information to start immediately
  • Reasonable pricing

What we don’t like:

  • Students can’t work with the same tutor consistently, which is less effective for math learning
  • Tutors aren’t necessarily from top schools, and it’s not possible to see any information about their tutors
  • Online tutoring platform has some technological problems and crashes frequently

#4 - Wyzant

Our Verdict — Alternative for Families on a Budget

Price: $20–600/hour

There are plenty of large platforms with large stables of part-time tutors and coaches available to work with students. Wyzant is one of the largest such platforms, with more than 65,000 tutors providing services through their website — including 7,900 online math tutors. Students and families can pick individual tutors to work with from their roster and arrange tutoring services directly.

One benefit of this model is that tutors can set their own rates, which vary hugely. Families on a budget can find online writing tutors as low as $20 per hour.

However, these tutors might not have any teaching experience or training, and they may not have graduated from a top school or have a math-related degree. Some tutors on Wyzant with more qualifications may have much higher rates — as high as $600 per hour!

Best for:

  • Families on a budget who are willing to work with a freelance tutor directly.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $20–600/hour
  • Math tutor qualifications: varies

What we like:

  • Marketplace platform means that some tutors list low rates for tutoring, which can make tutoring more affordable
  • Families can choose their own tutor directly out of over 7,900 math tutors listed

What we don’t like:

  • No training for tutors — which leads to uneven quality of instruction
  • Families are hiring individual tutors, which means tutor qualifications vary enormously, and there are no guarantees
  • Choosing the right tutor out of 7,900+ is one more task for busy families
student working on math problem

Math skills are essential for 70% of today's jobs. Read more about why math is important below.


#5 - Khan Academy

Our Verdict — Best Free Math Resource

Price: free

Technically speaking, Khan Academy does not belong on this list because they do not provide live tutoring with an instructor.

However, it’s such a great resource for math education that we had to include it here.

Khan Academy is an educational non-profit founded in 2008 with the mission to “provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.” They’re perhaps best known for their free SAT prep created in partnership with the College Board. However, since their original focus was on math education (inspired by the founder’s experience tutoring his young cousins in math), their math materials have always been particularly strong.

Khan Academy’s math education material spans preschool through multivariable calculus and differential equations. For each mathematical concept, they have short videos, practice problems, and quizzes.

While many students will benefit from a more customized learning plan guided by an experienced math tutor, Khan Academy’s resources are a fantastic tool for honing math skills.

Best for:

  • Any student who wants to practice specific math skills.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $0
  • Math tutor qualifications: N/A

What we like:

  • Free math resources available to anyone in the world
  • Platform and videos are high quality, with clean graphics and a mix of videos and practice

What we don’t like:

  • No live instructor, just pre-recorded videos and exercises
  • One-size-fits-all practice doesn’t match the specific needs of each student
  • Hundreds of math concepts can be overwhelming, and there’s no way to ask questions or receive a customized learning plan

#6 - Learn to Be

Our Verdict — Best Free Math Tutoring (for qualifying families)

Price: free (or voluntary contribution of $9–30 per month)

Learn to Be is a fantastic non-profit organization improving education for underserved youth in the US. Students work with the same tutor consistently, which allows them to build a strong relationship and allows for mentoring as well as learning.

Students working with Learn to Be have seen an average increase in test scores of 15.8% and an average GPA increase of 1.6 — nearly two full letter grades (for example from a C to an A-)! Tutors are volunteers who are passionate about educational equity, and range from current high school and college students to professionals or retirees.

The program works primarily with foster youth, homeless youth, and other lower-income families. Possible qualifications for free tutoring with Learn to Be include: student attends a Title 1 school, receives free or reduced lunch at school, comes from a single-parent home, is a foster child, is homeless, or qualifies for food stamps. It’s possible to work with a Spanish-speaking tutor through Learn to Be.

Best for:

  • Students who qualify for free tutoring (foster youth or low-income families).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $0
  • Math tutor qualifications: varies

What we like:

  • Non-profit helping underserved youth
  • Completely free tutoring for qualifying families
  • Students work with the same tutor consistently, which builds trust and leads to a better individualized educational experience

What we don’t like:

  • Tutor qualifications vary — some tutors are high school students as young as 14 years old, and all tutors are volunteers
  • Only for qualifying youth in the US (low income or foster youth)

#7 - Schoolhouse

Our Verdict — Best Free Peer Math Tutoring

Price: free

While Learn to Be provides free or low-cost tutoring to only qualifying families, Schoolhouse is free and available to any student age 13+.

Created by Sal Khan, who is also the founder of well-known educational non-profit Khan Academy, Schoolhouse is an innovative platform for peer tutoring.

Students who are strong in math can take a short test to check their knowledge. Qualified students can then volunteer to host small-group tutoring sessions online to help their peers who might be struggling.

Schoolhouse’s peer tutoring is designed to reinforce and practice what students are learning in school. There’s no adult or experienced instructor leading the tutoring sessions, and all sessions are in groups open to any student worldwide to join, so we wouldn’t recommend it for students who need targeted help learning specific math concepts. However, it can be a fun way for students to practice math alongside their peers.

Best for:

  • Students age 13+ who want to practice math problems in a group with their peers.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $0
  • Math tutor qualifications: current students age 13+ — students take a quiz to prove their knowledge but no other required qualifications

What we like:

  • Completely free and open to any student worldwide age 13+
  • Students can work with their student peers, which some might find more approachable

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors are other young students and have no experience or qualifications
  • Small-group setting doesn’t provide individual attention to students
  • Not a substitute for learning guided by an experienced instructor
student working on math problem

Read below: how strong math foundations can unlock success for decades to come


Best of the Rest for Online Math Tutoring

#8 - Princeton Review / Tutor.com

Our Verdict — Disappointing Quality from Test-Prep Giant

Price: $60–75/hour for scheduled tutoring, minimum package $450; lower-quality instant tutoring at $26–35/hour, minimum package $350; monthly subscription instant tutoring at $36–40/hour

Back in 2014, Tutor.com acquired the well-known test-prep company The Princeton Review.

(Note that the Princeton Review has no connection to Princeton University.)

They now offer subject-area tutoring in over 80 different academic areas, including math. The range of tutoring options is a little confusing, but it basically breaks down to three different models: families can choose between (1) packages of 6–60 scheduled tutoring hours with more highly-qualified tutors through “The Academy”, (2) one-off tutoring packages of 10–50 “instant tutoring” hours that can be used over a six-month period, or (3) a monthly subscription for 1–5 instant tutoring hours each month. Tutors are available 24/7 for instant sessions.

For students enrolled in The Academy’s scheduled tutoring sessions with packages of 24 hours ($1620) or 60 hours ($3600), they advertise a “guaranteed A.” This promise turns out to be a little deceptive, as the guaranteed “A” only applies to students who already have at least a B; for students who start with a B- or lower the guarantee is for one full letter grade. For students who work with a tutor through their Homework Help packages at least 2 hours each month for 3 months in one subject, they guarantee a grade increase of at least a half-step letter grade. (This guarantee doesn’t apply for students who already have an A- or A.) Of course, there’s a lot of additional rules in the fine print for these guarantees!

Unfortunately, we were disappointed with the quality of this offering from The Princeton Review. In contrast to their operations for standardized test prep (like SAT and ACT prep), their platform for subject-area tutoring does not provide instructors with training, so there’s very little consistency. Tutors are also capped at 2 or 3 sessions per day, so they’re by design part-time instructors who are teaching a little on the side.

While The Princeton Review / Tutor.com claims to count Ivy grads and experts with advanced degrees among their tutors, we found this to be misleading. Most of their tutors have only a BA, and most have graduated from local schools that are not even in the top 200 universities. Pay for tutors is minimum wage, so it’s difficult for them to attract good teaching talent.

Surprisingly for The Princeton Review, their subject-area tutoring is a tutoring marketplace platform (similar to Wyzant). Families select individual tutors to work with based on their bios and arrange the tutoring sessions individually. For us, this obviates the point of working with a large company like Princeton Review, where in theory the advantage is quality control and a standard curriculum, even if it comes with a more corporate feel. With this marketplace model, tutor quality and qualifications vary considerably, especially given that tutors do not receive any training or teaching materials.

Our inside sources tell us that their online teaching platform is outdated and has many technological bugs that make it crash frequently, and at least one year ago it only worked on PCs, not Macs!

At a glance:

  • Cost: The Academy tutoring packages: $450 for 6 hours ($60/hr), $1620 for 24 hours ($67.50/hr), or $3600 for 60 hours ($60/hr); Homework Help packages that can be used over a period of 6 months: $350 for 10 hours ($35/hr), $950 for 30 hours ($32/hr), or $1450 for 50 hours ($26/hr); Homework Help tutoring subscriptions: $40 for 1 hour each month, $115 for 3 hours each month ($38/hr), or $180 for 5 hours each month ($36/hr)
  • Math tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Reasonable pricing for tutoring and a range of payment models
  • Tutors are available 24/7 for instant Homework Help packages

What we don’t like:

  • Tutor qualifications vary — most are from local or state schools, not competitive colleges
  • Online platform is buggy and crashes frequently
  • Challenging for them to attract good teaching talent as pay is minimum wage
  • Low quality of teaching, surprising for a big-name player in test prep

#9 - ArborBridge

Our Verdict: Pricey Service with Mystery Tutors

Price: $165+/hour, minimum package $2400 for 15 hours

Featuring crisp, minimalist visuals and a younger team, ArborBridge calls itself “the next generation of test prep.” They’ve always been remote and online, so they haven’t suffered the growing pains with the shift to online learning that many competitors with outdated platforms (like Pearson and Princeton Review) have experienced.

That said, their tutoring is quite expensive! Their rate is always at least $160 per hour, and the minimum package is a hefty $2400 for 15 hours of tutoring. They also advertise a “concierge” tutoring service with a more customized experience — price upon request.

Is it worth the price? We’re not so sure.

ArborBridge claims to have hired the “best” tutors but they do not list any specific qualifications for their tutors or provide any bios for their tutor roster. On their (slightly-defunct) Instagram page they have provided some fun facts about a few of their tutors, but they don’t list any educational background, years of experience, or relevant professional credentials, just favorite foods and television shows. There’s no indication that their tutors have graduated from top colleges, have teaching experience, or any other relevant qualifications — unlike services like PrepMaven or Tutoring Service of New York that only hire Ivy-League tutors. In fact, our sources have mentioned that their tutors don’t receive much training prior to teaching.

They also, unlike the Princeton Review, don’t offer any guarantees for raising grades or scores.

In the end, we’re not sure why ArborBridge has such high prices without offering particularly high-quality tutoring in return. Their website looks nice, though!

At a glance:

  • Cost: $160/hour, minimum package is $2400 for 15 hours (+ 1 bonus hour); $4800 for 30 hours (+ 3 bonus hours); $7200 for 45 hours (+ 6 bonus hours) — or “concierge tutoring” with “highest level of hands-on care,” price upon request
  • Math tutor qualifications: unknown

What we like:

  • Known for good customer service
  • Younger, more modern tutoring service that’s built with technology from the get-go

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive, with a minimum cost of $2400 for 15 hours of tutoring
  • No information about tutor qualifications provided
  • No guarantees for grade or score raises
  • Seems more design than substance

#10 - Learner

Our Verdict — Tutoring that Includes ESL Learners

Price: $55–80/hour, minimum $400 package

Learner is another newer online tutoring platform. Unlike many of the other services on this list, Learner also provides tutoring services to adults, especially for non-native English speakers.

While they advertise that their tutors have degrees from “top universities,” it seems that the only necessary qualification for tutors at Learner is a college degree (not just from top schools).

We found their sign-up sequence to be frustrating. New clients start by answering a series of questions about their students. While it repeatedly seems like they’ll show a selection of tutors that may be a match, this is a bait-and-switch tactic, and they never display any actual tutor profiles. Instead, new clients must first make a payment before they can view any tutor details.

Learner has a “satisfaction guarantee,” which simply means that they’ll allow families to request a switch to another tutor if it’s not a good fit.

Their rates are on the pricier side for “average” tutors who do not have teaching experience or degrees from elite universities.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $400 for 5 hours ($80/hour), $700 for 10 hours ($70/hour), $1200 for 20 hours ($60/hour), or $1650 for 30 hours ($55/hour)
  • Math tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Explicitly offers tutoring for ESL learners

What we don’t like:

  • No specific tutor qualifications beyond a college degree
  • Prices are high given quality of service

#11 - Revolution Prep

Our Verdict — Individual and Small-Group Tutoring Online

Price: $116/hour, minimum $1398 for 12 hours

Revolution Prep is a larger platform providing online tutoring with a focus on interactive learning.

Revolution Prep is one of the only services that we researched that offers small-group tutoring in addition to one-on-one tutoring. This allows them to provide tutoring with up to three students at a time for a lower price of $40/hour (minimum purchase of $199 for 5 hours). This rate might be more budget-friendly for families than their individual tutoring, which has a hefty minimum purchase of $1398 for 12 hours.

Their individual tutoring rate of $116/hour is quite high, especially given the backgrounds of their instructors. While we like that all of their tutors are full-time staff, versus tutoring part-time alongside another career, their tutors do not have any other specific qualifications. These rates are comparable or higher than other services that provide more customized learning with Ivy-League tutors, like PrepMaven or select tutors on Wyzant.

At a glance:

  • Cost: individual tutoring $116/hour, minimum $1398 for 12 hours; small-group tutoring $40/hour, minimum $199 for 5 hours; group classes $499 for 12 hours
  • Math tutor qualifications: none specified

What we like:

  • All tutors are full-time staff
  • Small-group tutoring provides lower prices

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualifications for math tutors
  • Tutoring rates are high for the type of service

#12 - Mathnasium

Our Verdict — Tutoring Franchise to Help with Math Homework

Price: varies (franchise), typically $200–425/month

Math is one of the most important core subjects, and so it’s not surprising that there are learning programs devoted specifically to math.

Mathnasium is a franchise with locations throughout the US and even internationally. As their name might suggest, they’re focused on fostering math skills only. Pricing varies by franchise location and by grade level, but most Mathnasium centers offer a flat monthly fee that allows students to attend math tutoring sessions regularly (whether online or in person), usually two or three times per week.

While other programs might focus on drills and exercises, Mathnasium typically focuses on helping students with their math homework and other math assignments. Mathnasium does not assign homework or create customized curricula for students.

One significant downside of Mathnasium’s approach is that students do not necessarily get to work with the same tutor each time. This disrupts continuity and makes it harder for students to learn, since a good tutor will track students’ progress over time and create assignments that target the needs of each individual student. There are also no specific qualifications for math tutors, so there’s no guarantee that the tutors are great teachers or have a high level of expertise in math.

Since each of the Mathnasium centers is locally owned and operated, the customer service experience can vary significantly.

At a glance:

  • Cost: varies (franchise), typically $200–425/month (costs are higher for high school levels)
  • Math tutor qualifications: none specified

What we like:

  • Focus on math, and can help students understand their math homework and other school assignments

What we don’t like:

  • Tutoring isn’t necessarily one-on-one
  • Not the same tutor every time, which is not ideal for learning
  • Covers only math, while some other tutoring services can provide tutoring for other subjects as well
  • Tutors do not have any specific qualifications

#13 - Kumon

Our Verdict — Tutoring Franchise Drilling Math and Reading Basics

Price: varies (franchise), typically $100–200/month

Kumon is an international tutoring franchise that focuses on reaching math and reading through rote memorization.

Founded by Toru Kumon in Japan in 1958, Kumon centers all follow the same learning approach based on worksheets that very gradually increase in difficulty. Students enrolled in Kumon’s program begin with a diagnostic assessment. They are then usually placed in a level lower than where they scored, so that they can reinforce existing skills with additional practice. However, this also means that students have to spend time on material that they have already learned.

Students at Kumon are not able to bring in math homework or material from their current math class for additional help. Instead, all Kumon sessions focus on the rigid Kumon material. The goal of the Kumon Method  is “to teach students to learn independently,” and so instructors observe students as they complete worksheets and provide guidance.

Students are also assigned homework from Kumon, in order to continue practicing at home. Students typically receive about 30 minutes of homework per day.

Since each of the Kumon centers is locally owned and operated, the customer service experience can vary significantly.

Pricing also varies by location, but runs typically about $100–200 per month. Students are encouraged to attend Kumon sessions twice per week.

At a glance:

  • Cost: varies (franchise), typically $100–200/month (costs are higher for high school levels)
  • Math tutor qualifications: high school graduates

What we like:

  • Repetition of core skills can lead to a thorough understanding of the basics

What we don’t like:

  • Rigid curriculum is not personalized for the learning styles and speeds of each student
  • Rote repetition and endless worksheets may be boring or frustrating for students
  • Students can’t bring in outside homework for help with their current math class
  • Assigns a lot of extra work for students (typically 30 minutes of homework daily)

#14 - Varsity Tutors

Our Verdict — Uneven Quality Without Budget Pricing

Price: $60–95/hour

Varsity Tutors is an enormous tutoring platform offering online instruction in all academic subjects and test prep, including writing. These days their marketing has been ubiquitous!

However, Varsity Tutors' size has many downsides — most notably, very uneven quality of teaching.

Tutors at Varsity need only a high school degree, and there is no requirement for tutors to have a college degree or teaching experience, let alone a top-tier educational background or professional writing credentials.

Tutors can join the Varsity team very quickly and are paid lower rates than nearly any other tutoring company (just $12–15 for sessions that cost families up to $95), so it’s difficult for Varsity to attract and retain good talent. Lucky families might get assigned a good tutor, but that’s not at all assured.

Varsity Tutors also does not provide any tutor materials, curriculum, or training, so it’s up to individual tutors to create everything from scratch, contributing further to the unevenness of quality.

With rates higher than the competition with similar types of tutors (no specific qualifications beyond a college degree), Varsity is significantly overpriced. We’d recommend that families either consider a more budget-friendly option that would offer the same quality as Varsity in the $30–40/hour price range, or else consider a service like PrepMaven (starting at $66/hour) or Tutoring Service of New York (starting at $112/hour) that pairs students with highly-qualified tutors with advanced degrees and Ivy-League backgrounds.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $60–95/hour
  • Math tutor qualifications: high school graduates

What we like:

  • Large number of tutors, so certain to find a tutor to fit your schedule

What we don’t like:

  • No education or training requirements for tutors, along with low pay rates for instructors, means tutors are less-qualified than alternative math tutoring services
  • Uneven teaching quality due to lack of resources for instruction
  • Overpriced given the lack of required qualifications for tutors

#15 - Tutoring Service of New York

Our Verdict — New Service with Higher Minimum Package

Price: $112–160/hour ($1200 5-session minimum)

Founded by a former tutor with the now-defunct Ivy Global tutoring service, the new Tutoring Service of New York offers subject-area tutoring online, including math.

Most of their tutors are current graduate students, many at Columbia University and NYU. The higher prices of the Tutoring Service of New York reflect the more elite educational background of the tutors. However, their minimum of $1200 for at least 5 sessions is high, especially since many other services have smaller minimum packages (compare $510 minimum at PrepMaven or $450 minimum at The Princeton Review), or else allow families to purchase one-off tutoring sessions (Pearson, Skooli, and others).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $1200 for five 90-minute sessions; $2000 for 10 sessions; $2700 for 16 sessions
  • Math tutor qualifications: college graduates, mostly current graduate students at Columbia or NYU

What we like:

  • Qualified tutors with mostly Ivy-League backgrounds

What we don’t like:

  • New service, so client reviews are still limited
  • Higher minimum tutoring packages

#16 - Preply

Our Verdict — Lower-Cost Tutoring Marketplace Platform

Price: $10–40/hour

Preply is a lower-cost marketplace platform. It’s significantly smaller than Wyzant, and currently there are only 950 math tutors listed on the platform (compared with over 7,900 math tutors listed on Wyzant).

Among those writing tutors listed, most don’t have high educational backgrounds. Preply is a more international platform, and some of the tutors are from other countries or located outside the US.

One benefit of Preply’s platform is that rates are very low, ranging from $10/hour to $40/hour. These rates are actually comparable or higher than the pay rates for most of the larger platforms on our list (like Pearson, The Princeton Review, Varsity Tutors, and TutaPoint), so don’t necessarily take these numbers on their own as indications of lower quality — just that tutors are earning a larger share.

That said, the math tutoring available through Preply does appear to be lower-quality than other options.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $10–40/hour, depending on rates set by individual tutors
  • Math tutor qualifications: varies

What we like:

  • Families can choose individual tutors on their marketplace platform

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualifications for tutors and no quality control
  • Task of choosing the right math tutor can be stressful

#17 - Chegg

Our Verdict — Message Board Help with Math Questions

Price: $20 per month

Chegg is one of the biggest tutoring platforms, so families may be familiar with their name already. We should note that they’ve pivoted several times in the past few years, so their service may have changed from what families have read.

Whereas previously (first as InstaEDU, then as Chegg Tutors) Chegg offered live tutoring instruction online, Chegg no longer offers one-on-one tutoring.

Instead, they now offer two subscription levels that allow students to view instructional videos, access answer keys for common textbooks, and receive asynchronous written feedback to homework questions. These questions are primarily answered by “subject matter experts” located in India.

With their Chegg Study Pack subscription, students can post up to 20 math questions per month and receive a written step-by-step solution to the problem within 24 hours.

This is not the same as active math tutoring with live discussion and exercises directly with a tutor. The written math help provided by Chegg’s essay review service is very limited. Moreover, the math problem answers are written by different tutors every time, so there’s no opportunity to grow through working with one tutor consistently.

Honestly, this service is little better than posting a math question to a helpful community forum, and it’s hard to see how it’s worth the monthly subscription fee.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $15 per month for Chegg Study subscription, which provides homework resources only; $20 per month for Chegg Study Pack subscription which provides essay reviews (up to 15 short papers per month, up to 3000 words each) and math question help in addition to the homework resources
  • Math tutor qualifications: none specified

What we like:

  • Students can get help with specific math questions within a 24-hour turnaround time

What we don’t like:

  • Limited to 20 math questions per month
  • Asynchronous, written feedback is not an effective way to learn
  • No education or training requirements for tutors, and no information about who the math question reviewers are

calculator and math textbook

Top 50 Online Math Tutoring Services Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • Pearson / Smarthinking
  • Skooli
  • Wyzant
  • Learn To Be
  • Tutor.com / The Princeton Review
  • Learner
  • Club Z! Tutoring
  • Sylvan Learning
  • Varsity Tutors
  • Yup
  • Tutor Doctor
  • Schoolhouse
  • Mathnasium
  • Kumon
  • Revolution Prep
  • Prodigy
  • Chegg
  • TutaPoint
  • Preply
  • Kaplan
  • TutorMe
  • StudyPoint
  • Lehman Tutoring Center
  • Spires
  • TeacherOn
  • UPchieve – free tutoring for underserved youth in the US
  • SpecialEdTutoring.com 
  • Suprex Learning
  • Superprof
  • UniversityTutor.com
  • Huntington Learning Center
  • MathTowne
  • Cluey Learning
  • Galaxy Grades
  • Clever Fox Education
  • Nurturing Wisdom
  • Themba Tutors
  • Tutoring Service of New York
  • Kaplan Tutoring Services (not Kaplan)
  • ArborBridge
  • INC Education – focus on BIPOC kids
  • Central Park Tutors
  • Special Education Resource
  • Parallel
  • Aralia
  • Prepclass
  • Studypool
student studying math


Why is math a foundational skill?

Math is one of the cornerstones of any STEM subject, and students who want to pursue a career in engineering, medicine, finance, computer science, or any other STEM field will need to demonstrate strong abilities in math on their college applications.

Even in fields that aren’t directly related to finance, science, tech, or engineering, math skills are increasingly important in any workplace. A recent study by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute found that strong math skills are essential to success in 70% of jobs in the US. 

Our world is increasingly driven by data, and the ability to understand and analyze information is a valuable skill. For example, marketing and advertising professionals routinely use math and data analytics to increase conversion rates and improve sales. Business analysts use math to create graphs and explore new avenues of growth. 

Math skills are also key to many aspects of daily life. We all use math every day to calculate a discount, adjust a recipe, manage our finances, or plan a trip.

math in business

For students, math is a cornerstone of many other subjects that they may take. Classes in physics, chemistry, computer science, economics, statistics, political science, and architecture will all depend on a strong math foundation.

For this reason, it’s important to keep math skills strong throughout a student’s educational career. If students start to struggle in a math class, these problems will only compound, because more than almost any other subject math knowledge builds on itself.

Each math class depends on knowledge learned in previous years. Students who don’t learn how to do arithmetic with fractions will struggle whenever fractions reappear in other contexts. Students who fail to master the basics of algebra will struggle throughout the rest of high school math. Other subjects, like chemistry or physics, will also depend on a good mathematical foundation.

Math tutoring can step in and stop a downward spiral. A good tutor will give students confidence in their math skills and stop them from thinking that they’re “just not good at math.”

Families have been increasingly recognizing the immense benefit of private math tutoring. Learning strong math skills early on will have a positive ripple effect throughout the student’s academic and professional career, and a little bit of tutoring can go a long way!


Math Skills for College Admissions Tests (PSAT, SAT, and ACT)

Many students are focused on college admissions, which can have a significant impact on their opportunities in life.

The SAT and ACT remain an important part of college applications in the US. Even with some schools creating temporary test-optional admissions policies during the Covid-19 pandemic, high test scores remain the norm at top schools throughout the US, and a good SAT or ACT score will always improve a student’s chances of admission.

SAT math answer key

Math skills are a huge part of both the SAT and the ACT. On the SAT, Math forms one-half of the test. Students will need to demonstrate mastery of the concepts covered in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II; this includes linear equations, polynomial equations, angles and circle arcs, trigonometry, exponential functions, imaginary numbers. 

SAT section scores range from 200 to 800. To give an idea of what kind of SAT scores students might need, the average SAT Math score at the Ivy League is between 740 and 800, and the average SAT Math score at the top 50 public universities is between 660 and 760.

Meanwhile, the math material on the ACT is even harder. In addition to the math concepts covered by the SAT, the ACT includes trigonometric functions, logarithmic functions, matrices, and more challenging geometry material. 

ACT scores range from 2 to 36, and the average ACT Math score at the Ivy League is between 31 and 35. While math questions form only one quarter of the total ACT score, related skills in data analysis and interpreting charts are central to the ACT Science section as well.

While a great SAT or ACT score alone won’t get you into the Ivy League or another top-tier university, it’s very hard to get into a top-tier school without a strong math score on the SAT or ACT.

Furthermore, high test scores can win students big scholarships through programs like the National Merit competition.

With scholarships worth $300,000 on the line, there’s a lot of incentive for students to strengthen their math skills!


Why work with a math tutor?

You may want to consider a working with a math tutor if:

  • You want to improve your grades in your math classes at school
  • You want to improve your performance on AP tests
  • You’re tired of conflict between students and parents about math homework
  • You’re aiming at a competitive college (not just the Ivy League!) and know that you need high test scores
  • You want to learn math skills now so you can succeed in your later career
  • You know that if you develop strong math skills now, you’ll do better on every STEM-related class, assignment, and exam for the rest of your life!

Any of these are good reasons to consider working with a math tutor.

Remember, math is an essential skill for most degrees and most careers — especially in STEM! 

Building strong math skills early on will make each subsequent education and career step easier and more successful.

student working on laptop


What makes a good math tutor?

A good math tutor should be an amazing teacher with experience, a strong educational background, and the ability to plan customized exercises that target an individual student’s weak spots.

Look for experienced tutors with strong educational backgrounds (i.e. who attended top universities) who have taught math previously.

Studies have shown that students will learn better when they can establish a relationship with their tutor. Look for a tutoring service where students can continue with the same tutor and build a sense of rapport.
A good math tutor can help students to succeed on any math assignments they may have for school. They can teach students how to work through math homework and study for important math tests.

student learning online


Summary

Best overall: The one-on-one math tutoring from PrepMaven is the best out there both in terms of tutor quality and price. While PrepMaven’s tutors can certainly help with school assignments, they can also create targeted math practice to fill any gaps in a student’s current math knowledge. Starting at just $66/hour, students can work with current undergraduates at Princeton, Harvard, and other Ivy-League universities to improve their math skills. Families can also work with experienced, professional educators and Ivy-League graduates at $149/hour. As a boutique tutoring service, PrepMaven offers careful attention to each student and boasts amazing customer reviews.

Best of the big companies: The Smarthinking platform developed by publishing giant Pearson provides reasonably-priced math tutoring both on-demand and scheduled in advance, and it’s better than the tutoring provided by other large companies. Their tutors have a higher level of education than many other options — the majority hold advanced degrees. That said, most of their tutors aren’t from top-tier universities, and they struggle to keep good teachers. In addition, their online platform is older and prone to crashing.

Best super-quick tutoring: If students want short-term tutoring available instantly, they might consider Skooli. Skooli is the only tutoring service we reviewed that offers tutoring by the minute. Tutors aren’t necessarily from top schools, and students can’t work with the same tutor consistently, so the quality of tutoring is lower, but on-demand tutoring can start as soon as you enter your credit card details.

Alternative for families on a budget: For families on a tighter budget, we’d suggest looking for an independent tutor on Wyzant. It’s a tutoring marketplace platform, so the quality varies hugely and there’s no oversight or qualification requirements, but you might find a decent math tutor under $40/hour.

However, in our experience a good tutor can accomplish more with a student in one hour than an average tutor can do in five hours. With that in mind, it might be more effective to choose fewer hours of reliably high-quality tutoring.

Harvard University
Harvard University


Next steps

Ready to improve math skills with one of our experienced tutors? Schedule a free tutoring consultation with Jessica (Director of Tutoring) or one of our founders to see what would be the best fit for your family.

Regardless of your current math abilities and planned career path, building a strong math foundation will pay dividends throughout your life. Math is particularly essential for any student dreaming of a career in STEM.

Remember that high math test scores can be used to earn scholarships as well as college admission, so a few months of math tutoring now can pay off with up to $300,000 in tuition saved later.

To start working with an Ivy-League math tutor today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.


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math chalkboard


PrepScholar Review: Rating All of PrepScholar’s SAT and ACT Prep Options

PrepScholar is a newer test prep company that provides courses and tutoring for the SAT, ACT, and other important tests.

Considering working with PrepScholar for test prep? Read this in-depth review first.

We deployed our deep expertise with test prep to evaluate PrepScholar’s offerings and get all the answers for you. 

Read on to learn about PrepScholar’s pricing, instructors, online platform, and customer service, and discover whether their test prep is the right fit for you.

Not sure how to select an online tutoring service?

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


PrepScholar Review: Fast Facts

  • PrepScholar offers a wide range of on-demand video courses, group classes, and one-on-one tutoring for important tests like the SAT and ACT
  • On-demand video courses (with no instructor contact) start at $397
  • Individual tutoring for SAT or ACT prep costs $130–249 per hour, with a minimum package of $995
  • PrepScholar's group classes are only half as long as competitors' classes, so clients are paying similar prices but for half of the teaching hours
student working on laptop

Not sure what kind of tutoring is the right fit? Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


PrepScholar Review: Test Prep Options & Pricing

PrepScholar offers pre-recorded video courses, live group classes, and tutoring for the SAT and ACT. They also provide individual tutoring for AP subjects. Finally, they have recently added on-demand courses for the PSAT, GRE, GMAT, and TOEFL tests.

  • PrepScholar Complete SAT, $397 — pre-recorded video lessons and practice questions, but no contact with an instructor
  • PrepScholar Complete ACT, $397 — pre-recorded video lessons and practice questions, but no contact with an instructor
  • PrepScholar Complete Premium, $580 — two years of access to the same pre-recorded video lessons and practice questions, but no contact with an instructor
  • PrepScholar Dual SAT and ACT, $597 — pre-recorded video lessons and practice questions, but no contact with an instructor
  • PrepScholar Classes, $895 — 9 hours of live classes, plus access to the pre-recorded video lessons and practice lessons
  • PrepScholar Complete + Tutoring, $995–6995 — private tutoring, plus access to the pre-recorded video lessons and practice lessons
  • PrepScholar AP Tutoring, $75–90/hour — individual tutoring sessions
  • PrepScholar PSAT, GRE (general graduate school), GMAT (business programs), TOEFL (English language) — additional courses featuring pre-recorded video lessons and practice questions, but no contact with an instructor 

While these prices might initially look similar to other test prep companies, PrepScholar’s prices are actually quite high. That’s because their courses contain only about 50% of what similar courses from other test prep services offer.

For example, PrepScholar’s live group SAT Classes cost $895 for just 9 hours of class time. In comparison, the Princeton Review’s SAT Essentials course costs $949 for 18 hours of class time, or twice as much live class time as PrepScholar’s program for around the same price. Kaplan’s Live Online SAT Prep class is also 18 hours long, but costs just $699.

Now, savvy readers might point out that giant test prep providers like the Princeton Review or Kaplan don’t hire instructors with top-tier test scores and educational backgrounds. However, there are a handful of other smaller companies that offer SAT courses with amazing Ivy-League instructors. PrepMaven’s SAT Masterclass runs $995 for 21 hours of live classes taught by the company co-founder, a Princeton grad with many years of teaching experience.

PrepScholar’s rates for SAT or ACT tutoring are also overpriced. The smallest package available for SAT or ACT tutoring is $995 for 4 hours of tutoring, which comes out to $249/hour. This is quite a high price, given that some of their tutors are still college students! Students who want to work with top 1% tutors can also consider PrepMaven (one-on-one prep with Ivy-League tutors starting at $79/hour), Prep Expert ($59–89/hour), or SoFlo Tutors ($60–90/hour).

Keep reading for more detailed reviews of each of PrepMaven’s test prep options!

Rating: 4/10


PrepScholar Review: Self-directed test prep courses

Complete SAT Complete ACT Dual SAT & ACT Complete SAT Premium Complete ACT Premium
Cost $397 $397 $580 $597 $597
Access to materials 12 months 12 months 12 months 24 months 24 months
Practice tests 10 tests 5 tests 15 tests 10 tests 5 tests

PrepScholar’s main products for test prep are their Complete SAT course and Complete ACT course

Despite the name, however, these products are far from “complete.”

Each one offers students a combination of pre-recorded video lectures and written explanations of core test concepts and strategies. Students can then drill each concept with online practice questions and quizzes

There is no contact with an instructor or any way to ask for help at any point during these courses. This type of self-directed course is best for students who are capable of managing their own schedules without the assistance of an instructor.

teacher with whiteboard

The online courses for the SAT and ACT are nearly identical in format, and some content is the same for both courses, especially for math. Both programs take, on average, about 40 hours of work for students to complete. Each one starts with a one-hour diagnostic test to set a baseline. (In contrast, we recommend taking a real complete SAT or ACT to find weak spots.)

PrepScholar’s software then uses this brief diagnostic test to create a study plan. The student’s skill in each subject area is given a rating: core, advanced, or mastery. Students must progress to “mastery” level to complete each topic.

Initially, we liked that this was more customized than the software for more rigid online test prep programs, like the one from Kaplan. However, we found that many students have found it frustrating. 

On the one hand, students who have a lot of work to do in order to be ready for the SAT have found it grueling to get through all three levels of each unit. It can be discouraging to get stuck on the same unit — and in order to qualify for the score increase guarantee, students do need to achieve “mastery” of every subject. 

“I called PrepScholar to explain what constituted ‘complete' the course. She said, ‘your child must achieve mastery level in all 49 skill areas.’ When I wondered if a student could do that, she said, ‘Oh don't worry MOST of our students achieve mastery of all skills in only 50 hours of online instruction.’ This statement is 100% untrue. I asked how many hours a struggling student might take to achieve mastery in ALL 49, worst case. She said ‘100’ hours.

Our daughter spent 4 months, 110 hours online and 18.5 hours of tutoring to get a 90-point improvement, with ‘mastery’ in only 3 of 49 skills. The ‘terms’ also indicate that a skill may no longer be assigned if you have taken it too many times. In 110 hours, no skill was ever 'no longer assigned' to our daughter. So that statement is UNTRUE.

The terms are RIGGED so that your child will never qualify for the ‘guarantee.’”

On the other hand, students who are already moderately well-prepared for the SAT or ACT but are striving for a higher score may find the materials too brief:

“We used the online only services of PrepScholar (not tutoring). All the marketing materials make a strong case for advanced materials that students should commit to 50 hours to fully take advantage of the material. My students (2) essentially maxed out of the materials (i.e. achieved 'mastery' in the Prep Scholar system) after <15 hours each. After you take a module one time and still need improvement, you are tested again in the same area — but the second test is highly repetitive of the first test. The content is quite limited. Students who are of moderate competency at the material don't get much value out of the online materials, there simply is not enough content, variety or depth.”

“Their product of low value for certain types of students.”

In short, PrepScholar’s online courses are not a good fit for either students who have a lot of room to grow or higher-scoring students who already have basic knowledge of many test concepts.

Furthermore, not every lesson includes video — some provide only a written explanation of the concept, which many students have found dry and less helpful. One reviewer has described this text-only content as “lengthy, in the weeds, and just plain dry.” In these cases, there’s little difference between PrepScholar’s course content and a good test prep book, which would cost only $10–40 rather than $400.

In addition to the basic SAT or ACT course, PrepScholar offers a “Dual SAT & ACT” course that combines the material for the two tests. There’s also a “premium” option for each course that simply extends the access time from 12 months to 24 months, which might be better for students who are starting test prep earlier and want to be able to practice over a longer period of time, for example from spring of sophomore year to fall of senior year.

student working on online SAT prep

So is PrepScholar’s self-directed SAT or ACT prep worth the cost?

Ultimately, we’d say no. Their video explanations are often missing, and those that are included are not as high-quality as the more professional videos offered by test-prep giants like Kaplan or the Princeton Review.

We do like how PrepScholar does have a focus on test strategy for the SAT and ACT, which is lacking from some other test prep programs. We also found that PrepScholar offers an extensive set of practice questions with explanations.

However, while additional practice questions are helpful, we find that they’re less effective for raising your SAT score than working with real questions from actual past SAT tests. That’s because while PrepScholar’s authors will try to mimic the test, they’re always going to have slight differences in style compared to the real SAT.

The same goes for the full-length practice tests. We strongly recommend that students focus on real SAT tests for practice, not fake tests created by an outside company. A top-notch tutor or SAT prep class can help students navigate how to use the existing real SAT tests most effectively. 

Furthermore, a very similar set of practice questions and explanations — but this time created in partnership with the College Board, the makers of the SAT — is available completely for free from Khan Academy. Similarly, 8 full real SAT tests are available from the College Board or on Khan Academy. These resources are available forever, with no 12-month cutoff. As one student noted:

“Lessons were decent but you can find the same ones on Khan Academy, WITHOUT all the errors of PrepScholar. However, their lackluster lessons are not the issues. The questions that they attached after each of them at least 2/5 would have issues, marking my correct answer as wrong but explanations have the same answer as me, or just downright having an incomplete/incorrect explanation on how to find the answer.”

In fact, we’d recommend that students who want to self-study for all or a portion of their SAT or ACT prep start with the materials from Khan Academy and real full-length tests from the College Board, and then use printed books or help from a tutor to learn some test strategies and focus on any remaining weak spots.

If students want a guiding hand through the entire test-prep process with access to a real instructor for questions and live feedback, then PrepScholar’s “Complete SAT” course or “Complete ACT” course is not the answer. Students should instead consider a live test-prep group class or a private test-prep tutor.

Rating: 4/10

Looking for the best SAT prep resources? Schedule a free test prep consultation


PrepScholar Review: Live group test prep classes

While PrepScholar’s main focus is on their self-directed SAT and ACT courses, many students prefer to have guidance from a real instructor along their test-prep journey.

To answer this need, PrepScholar offers group classes for both the SAT and the ACT. These classes meet online over video with a live instructor either once per week or twice per week.

First of all, the good: we like that class sizes are small, about 9 students per class. Students also get access to PrepScholar’s extensive bank of practice questions. And PrepScholar’s guarantee of a score increase of 160 points (to students who meet all of the fine-print requirements) is generous.

However, as we mentioned above, these classes are only about half as long as similar classes from competitors. PrepScholar’s classes meet only six times, and students need to commit to a particular schedule. PrepScholar’s SAT class has the following schedule:

  • Class 1: Reading methods, big picture and structure.
  • Class 2: Reading closely and using evidence.
  • Class 3: Math strategies, geometry, data, ratios.
  • Class 4: Algebra: equations, systems, functions, and polynomials.
  • Class 5: SAT grammar and usage.
  • Class 6: Rhetoric and test-day strategies.

There are only three hours (two classes) spent on each part of the each part of the test: Reading, Writing, and Math. This is not very much time at all. Students who have gaps in their knowledge will definitely need more time to cover all of the material covered on the test. Conversely, this is also not nearly enough time to cover the challenging material that will separate the good students from the elite students.

The situation is even worse for PrepScholar’s ACT class:

  • Class 1: English section strategy, grammar and usage.
  • Class 2: English rhetoric, the Top 5 Math strategies, and geometry.
  • Class 3: Numbers and Algebra: Statistics, functions, and more.
  • Class 4: Reading method, details to big picture.
  • Class 5: Science: Experiments, Data, and Viewpoints.
  • Class 6: The Essay and test-day strategies.

They’ve tried to cram the five ACT sections into just six classes, but there’s simply no way to effectively cover all of the material and strategies for the test.

Nevertheless, PrepScholar charges $895 for each of these classes, which is a similar price to what other test prep providers charge for classes that are over twice as long.

Among the test prep giants, the Princeton Review’s SAT Essentials course costs $949 for 18 hours of class time. Kaplan’s Live Online SAT Prep class is also 18 hours long, but costs just $699. Of course these giant companies don’t have top-tier instructors; there are no set qualifications for instructors at either Kaplan or the Princeton Review, so teacher’s don’t necessarily have top test scores themselves or diplomas from competitive universities.

However, smaller boutique companies do offer courses with instructors from the Ivy League who scored in the top 1%. Check out PrepMaven’s SAT Masterclass ($995), which provides for 21 hours of live classes taught by the company co-founder, a Princeton grad with many years of teaching experience. Magoosh also offers a budget-friendly live group class with a top-1% instructor for just $399.

teacher with whiteboard

Furthermore, neither PrepScholar’s SAT class nor ACT class offers any additional support from an instructor. Many competitors offer some combination of group chats, office hours, or other ways for students to ask questions about practice problems or specific test concepts outside of class. PrepMaven’s SAT Masterclass is particularly generous, as students have an extra live session with the Ivy-League instructor every week to ask questions.

Finally, we’ll note that while these group classes do include extensive question banks and several full-length practice tests, these are not the best practice materials

It’s always better to focus on real questions and official past tests, not imitation practice questions created by outside companies. A great test-prep class or tutor will help guide students how to find the best real test questions for practice.

Rating: 4/10


PrepScholar Review: Test prep 1:1 tutoring

In addition to their large group classes, Kaplan also offers one-on-one SAT and ACT tutoring.

Individual tutoring might be an especially good fit for students who need more than a quick review of core concepts. This has been especially true after Covid, as there has been an unprecedented drop in student’s math and reading skills due to interruptions in schooling.

Individual tutoring is also a great idea for students who are pursuing very high scores (1400 and above for the SAT, or 30 and above for the ACT), and who might feel bored in a general class aimed at the average student. High-achieving students should make sure that they’re working with a tutor who got a top score on the SAT or ACT themself — look for tutors who scored in the top 1% of test-takers. 

Note that if high-achieving students are aiming for a National Merit scholarship, they’ll need a top 1% score on the PSAT, the version of the SAT that students take in October of their junior year. Every year, $35 million in scholarships are awarded through the National Merit program, and some colleges offer full-ride scholarships and other perks to National Merit students. An elite SAT tutor can help with preparation for the PSAT and this competition as well as the SAT. 

That said, one-on-one tutoring can be a good fit for any student! Individual tutoring sessions tend to be more impactful in a shorter period of time, since they can hone in on the specific weaknesses of that student, so they’re great for busy students who want to make the most of their SAT study time. 

An experienced tutor can also make sure to create individualized homework assignments that target the areas the student needs to strengthen to improve their SAT scores.

Crop close up of male student make notes handwrite in notebook study online on computer from home. Man write in notepad talking distant on webcam virtual zoom call on laptop. Education concept.

Is PrepScholar a good choice for SAT tutoring?

We found it to be significantly overpriced compared to other options.

There’s no way to purchase tutoring hours without access to the (so-so) self-directed course as well.

That means that the smallest tutoring package available for SAT or ACT prep is the Complete + Tutoring “Monitored Prep” package. For $995, students get 4 hours of tutoring and access to the self-directed online course materials. 

While families might be attracted by the combination of the self-directed learning with a few hours of tutoring, they should know that a top-notch SAT or ACT tutor will be able to provide students with customized homework and practice problems that are more tailored to the needs of the individual student (not to mention higher quality) than any online course.

Doing the math, the “Monitored Prep” package comes out to an effective tutoring rate of $249/hour, which is significantly higher than other comparable tutoring services — especially considering that some of the tutors may still be undergraduate students themselves.

The effective tutoring rate decreases a bit with larger tutoring packages, but remains quite high:

Package Package cost Hours of tutoring Effective tutoring rate
Monitored Prep $995 4 $249/hour
Tutor-Led Prep $1995 12 $166/hour
Full Tutoring Prep $2995 20 $150/hour
Maximum Tutoring Prep $6995 54 $130/hour

Are PrepScholar’s SAT and ACT tutors worth these high prices?

On the one hand, they’re a more selective group of tutors than many competitors. PrepScholar’s tutors have scored in the top 1% of test-takers, and many have attended top universities.

This makes PrepScholar’s tutors more highly-qualified than tutors at competitors like the Princeton Review, Kaplan, Study Point, LA Tutors, and Varsity Tutors, none of which have specific requisite qualifications for their test-prep tutors.

However, there are several other options that provide tutoring with elite top-1% scorers. Companies like Parker Academics ($200/hour) and Elite Ivy Tutors ($200–300/hour) offer tutoring with top scorers at comparable prices. At more affordable prices, families can still work with top-1% tutors through Prep Expert ($59–89/hour) or SoFlo Tutors ($60–90/hour). PrepMaven offers the best of both worlds: tutors at a range of prices, from $79/hour to $349/hour, all with Ivy-League and top-1% tutors but with prices depending on the additional qualifications that the tutor might have (like advanced degrees or impressive professional awards).

We also know from our insider research that PrepScholar’s tutors don’t receive extensive training in test-prep methods, unlike tutors at PrepMaven or the Princeton Review

In the end, PrepScholar’s individual SAT and ACT tutoring is better than some options, but it’s wildly overpriced for what they offer. Students can find tutoring of comparable or higher quality with other tutoring services.

Rating: 6/10

Learn more about one-on-one SAT tutoring with an Ivy-League and top 1% tutor


PrepScholar Review: Online Platform

For a self-directed online course, the online platform is the product itself!

Meanwhile, the experience and abilities of the tutor or instructor are without doubt the single most important factors in the overall quality of the educational experience for a live class or tutoring… but for online classes and tutoring the platform itself also has a significant impact.

In general, PrepScholar’s online platform has a simple, straightforward look. Their online course has just three tabs on the navigation bar and there aren’t many distractions. On this online platform students can view content lessons, strategy lessons, and progress trackers. 

One critique of PrepScholar’s online platform is that not every concept has video lessons available — some are text-only, like reading a textbook online. The videos that they have are generally less polished than the ones produced by test-prep giants like Kaplan and the Princeton Review.

As we’ve mentioned, some students find the “repeat until mastered” approach to be frustrating if they can’t quite get it, while other students find the content to be too easy and short.

Some clients have reported technical problems with the platform, which are compounded by difficulty reaching customer service.

Rating: 6/10


PrepScholar Review: Customer Service

How does PrepScholar’s customer service stack up?

First of all, many clients have commented that their score guarantee policy, which initially looks quite generous, is very strict. It’s quite difficult to make a successful claim for a refund, because there’s a lot of fine print involved. In particular, students must have achieved “mastery” in each of the test subjects, which is not possible for all students:

“I cannot evaluate how effective PrepScholar is, but I can say that their refund policy is incredibly strict. DO NOT purchase if there is any chance that your child will not take the SAT. PrepScholar absolutely refuses to issue a refund, regardless of the situation, once you have gone beyond the trial period. I know from personal experience.”

“Thousands of dollars and my score went down! Considering a lawsuit as they refused to refund money because their app wouldn’t work to meet their ‘requirements.’ I’m looking to sue! Would NOT recommend.”

“We have had quite a disappointing experience. The materials in tests are easier than in real test. Promise about money back is not real.”

student frustrated with laptop

Other clients have noted that their customer service is hard to reach. Their phone calls are reserved for sales calls, and their responses by email are sometimes unhelpful.

“When I gave the company feedback they would only correspond in email, not by phone and only canned responses from a first-level support person. They declined to interact or to consider that their product advertising is misleading and their product of low value for certain types of students.”

“This is a terrible company and they refuse to talk to you on the phone if you have a problem.  They will only take a phone call if you haven’t bought it yet.  I have contradicting emails.  They refuse to send me my ACT book. Refuse to handle my problem on the phone.  I’m about to call my credit card company to charge back because they refuse to send me my ACT book or handle my problem!”

“Online support is poor. They will answer emails, but just using the party line. They did re-set some sections for me at my request, so that was helpful.”

“If I could give the company 0 starts I would. Never been more dissatisfied with ANY purchase in my life. Customer service is unavailable after you spend hundreds of dollars. The software does not load and we just spent 2 days trying their "troubleshooting" which is an automated canned response. They haven't answered our initial inquiries from 2+ days ago. Horrible, horrible service and the product doesn't work.”

Finally, a number of clients reported that they were unable to get a refund or extended access to the test-prep products when SAT and ACT tests were initially canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“With COVID, we delayed our son taking the SAT. After 12 months, they terminated access while a fixed term is not listed on the website or the welcome letter. DON'T USE PrepScholar!

This is the kind of personal touch that is often lacking from a larger company like PrepScholar. For a more hands-on and empathetic approach, we recommend considering a smaller boutique company like PrepMaven, Elite Ivy Tutors, or the Tutoring Service of New York.

Rating: 5/10


PrepScholar Review: Final Verdict

PrepScholar is a newer presence in the test prep industry, but they’re already one of the larger companies.

In the end, we found that while they have some good elements, on the whole their products are lacking or overpriced.

Their customer service can be very hard to reach, and their generous score raise guarantee is in reality very difficult to claim.

Some of their online materials might be helpful to students studying for the SAT or ACT, but they’re not as good as real official test questions, which are available for free elsewhere.

Ultimately, any amount of practice will help students prepare for the SAT and ACT, but there are many other options that will teach students more effectively, at better prices. 

We like that all of their instructors for live classes and tutoring are top 1% scorers who come from elite schools. However, they’ve sneakily made their SAT and ACT classes only half the length (or shorter) than other test-prep options in the same price range.

That means that while the sticker price for their live classes might look similar, PrepScholar’s live classes are actually at least twice as expensive as other options, including other classes with top-1% or Ivy-League tutors.

Princeton University
Princeton University

If students are looking for a top-notch SAT prep class, but with smaller classes, more individualized attention, and top 1% instructors who hail from the Ivy League, we recommend PrepMaven’s SAT MasterClass. If families are specifically interested in one of the large test prep companies, we recommend Princeton Review over Kaplan

For families on a budget, we cannot recommend enough Khan Academy’s free SAT materials created in partnership with the College Board, creators of the SAT. Magoosh’s SAT prep course is pretty good value, too.

Similarly, PrepScholar’s SAT and ACT tutoring is wildly overpriced compared to test-prep competitors.

If students and families are looking for a more hands-on tutoring company with carefully selected Ivy-League tutors with prior teaching experience and specific training, we recommend working with a selective tutoring services like PrepMaven ($66–349/hour) or Elite Ivy Tutors ($200–300/hour), where all of the tutors are from the Ivy-League with impressive backgrounds, and where the quality of instruction is consistently very high. 

Overall Rating: 5/10


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…and more on our blog!

Schedule a short free consultation with an educational consultant today!



competition

Princeton Review vs Kaplan: Which SAT Prep Service is Better?

In this Princeton Review vs. Kaplan face-off, we pit two of the biggest test prep companies against each other to see which offers the best SAT prep. From instructor qualifications to price, online platform, guarantees, and other features, discover which is the best SAT prep service.

Both Kaplan and the Princeton Review offer test prep in many different formats, so we'll cover their group SAT classes, one-on-one tutoring, video on-demand courses, and all of their test-prep add-ons.

Not sure how to select an online tutoring service?

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan Overview

Live group SAT courses:

Princeton Review’s SAT Essentials Course Kaplan’s Live Online SAT Course
Cost of basic SAT live group course $949 $699
Instructor qualifications None specified, but some training None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Class size Varies, average around 12 students Up to 30 students
Practice tests and study materials 15 practice tests + 140 hours of additional video lessons to review individual concepts + question bank 8 practice tests (of which 4 are real SAT tests) + question bank
Access to materials 12 months 6 months
Option to add tutoring Purchase separately for $150–190/hour; pack of 3 hours is $540 Live Online Plus Course: additional $300 for 3 hours of one-on-one tutoring ($100/hour)

Pre-recorded SAT courses:

Princeton Review Kaplan
Cost of pre-recorded video SAT prep course $299 SAT only
$499 SAT and ACT
$199
Practice tests 15 practice tests 8 practice tests (of which 4 are real SAT tests)
Access to materials 1 year 6 months
Includes AP materials Limited video lessons for US Government, US History, World History, English Language, and Chemistry no
Cost of 10 hours add-on tutoring $200 (discount add-on rate, so $699 total) $1999 (no discount rate)

Private SAT tutoring:

Princeton Review Kaplan
Tutoring rate $150–420/hour $115–200/hour
Minimum tutoring package $540 for 3 hours $1999 for 10 hours
Instructor qualifications None specified, but some training None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Score increase guarantee Elite 1500+ option, $7560: for qualifying students who start with a 1400+, guarantee of 1500, with tutoring at $420/hour Higher score (could be just 10 points higher)


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Group SAT prep classes

The flagship SAT prep options for both Princeton Review and Kaplan are online group classes. This might be what most people think of when they imagine SAT prep: a group of students all learning the basics of SAT concepts and an introduction to the test format, taught in real time by a single instructor.

Let’s dive into the differences between the group SAT courses from Kaplan and the Princeton Review!

(It’s worth restating that there’s no connection between Princeton Review and Princeton University.)

There are several options from each company for this type of course, so we’ll summarize them here:

Princeton Review live online group classes for SAT prep

Kaplan live online group classes for SAT prep

  • Kaplan Live Online SAT course, $699 — live group classes and practice
  • Kaplan Live Online Plus SAT course, $999 — same as the Live Online course, plus 3 hours of individual tutoring
  • Kaplan Unlimited Prep course, $1999 — same as the Live Online course but with access to course materials until December of senior year, plus material for PSAT, ACT, and select APs

How do these compare against each other? Let’s take a look at them one by one.

student taking online class

The basic course: Princeton Review SAT Essentials vs Kaplan Live Online SAT

Princeton Review’s SAT Essentials Course Kaplan’s Live Online SAT Course
Cost of basic SAT live group course $949 $699
Instructor qualifications None specified, but some training None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Class size Varies, average around 12 students Up to 30 students
Practice tests and study materials 15 practice tests + 140 hours of additional video lessons to review individual concepts + question bank 8 practice tests (of which 4 are real SAT tests) + question bank
Access to materials 12 months 6 months
Option to add tutoring Purchase separately for $150–190/hour; pack of 3 hours is $540 Live Online Plus Course: additional $300 for 3 hours of one-on-one tutoring ($100/hour)

Kaplan’s Live Online SAT course is their flagship offering for SAT prep. The course includes 9 sessions of 2 hours each for $699. This is $250 less than the basic SAT course offered by the Princeton Review, which is their SAT Essentials Course ($949).

How do these two courses differ from each other, and is Princeton Review’s course worth the increased price?

Instructors

The most important factor for educational quality is always the teacher. Neither Princeton Review nor Kaplan have any specific qualifications for their SAT instructors, which isn’t great. This means that instructors did not necessarily score highly on the test themselves. They don’t need to have teaching experience or a degree from a top school.

We do know that the SAT instructors at the Princeton Review tend to be more highly trained. Kaplan, on the other hand, tends to hire instructors who scored in the 90th percentile — good scores, but not high enough to get into the Ivy League or most of the top-50 schools.

Class sizes

One significant flaw of Kaplan’s SAT classes is that all of them tend to be large classes with up to 30 students. In fact, Kaplan is notorious for canceling classes if enrollment isn’t high enough to protect their profit margins.

Kaplan tries to deal with large class sizes by including a second instructor present in the online chat for each class, available to answer questions without disrupting the main discussion. While this is a neat feature, we prefer having smaller class sizes to begin with. After all, one of the main reasons why students learn better from a live class compared to a pre-recorded class is that the instructor can answer questions in real time and adapt to the needs of the students.

Princeton Review’s SAT classes, on the other hand, tend to be a more reasonable size, averaging around 12 students per class.

Practice tests and study materials

Practice tests and study materials for both Kaplan and the Princeton Review live group classes are the same as their materials for self-directed courses, discussed below.

We found Kaplan’s advertising about the practice tests to be misleading, because 4 of their practice tests are available for free directly from the College Board, and also in a more interactive format from Khan Academy! It’s true that they’re great practice resources, but there’s no need to pay Kaplan for access to practice tests.

As we’ve seen, the Princeton Review offers more SAT practice questions and more full-length practice tests than Kaplan does. 

However, these materials aren’t as helpful as one might think. The best practice materials are always real SAT questions from past tests. (Eight full tests are available for free from the College Board or on their non-profit partner Khan Academy.) While companies try to mimic the test style as best they can when creating these proprietary question banks, they’re never exactly the same as the real ones. Over the years, we’ve found many questions from the Princeton Review’s question banks that do not accurately reflect the real SAT.

Same for the full-length practice tests: we strongly recommend using real SAT tests for practice, not fake tests created by an outside company. A top-notch tutor or SAT prep class can help students navigate how to use the existing real SAT tests most effectively. 

Access to materials

One significant downside of Kaplan’s On Demand SAT prep course is that it’s only available for 6 months. After that, there’s no way to extend access to the test materials. Given that most students take the SAT more than once, and it can be ideal to take the SAT for the first time early on to reduce time pressure, 6 months is not enough time for many students.

The Princeton Review gives students 12 months to access course materials. This is much more helpful for students and more standard for the test-prep industry, although we’ll note that a handful of rare companies like PrepMaven give students lifelong access!

Option to add tutoring

One thing that we liked about Kaplan’s SAT course was the option to add 3 hours of one-on-one tutoring at a discounted rate compared to their usual SAT tutoring. Although 3 hours isn’t much time, this option allows students to get some additional help with a few specific problem areas.

The Princeton Review does not have a specific add-on tutoring package, but families can purchase tutoring packs starting at $540 for 3 hours.

However, as we discuss below, Kaplan’s SAT tutors do not necessarily have strong credentials for teaching the SAT, so students might be better off working with a more experienced SAT tutor.

The verdict: the basic course from the Princeton Review is a bit better than Kaplan’s version, as students get 12 months of access to study materials and a smaller class size. However, neither course is worth the high price tag, since there are other options from smaller companies that offer more individualized attention and more experienced instructors with Ivy-League degrees and top-1% scores themselves.

writing

The deluxe course: Princeton Review 1400+ SAT vs Kaplan Unlimited Prep 

Princeton Review’s 1400+ SAT Course Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep Course
Cost of deluxe SAT live group course $2199 $1999
Instructor qualifications None specified, but more training and experience None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Class size Varies, average around 12 students Up to 30 students
Practice tests and study materials 15 practice tests + 140 hours of additional video lessons to review individual concepts + question bank 8 practice tests (of which 4 are real SAT tests) + question bank + ACT materials + AP materials
Access to materials 12 months Until December of senior year
Score increase guarantee For qualifying students who start with a 1250+, guarantee of 1400 Higher score (could be just 10 points higher)

Both the Princeton Review and Kaplan offer an upgraded version of their basic SAT group course. However, each company took this “deluxe” option in a different direction.

Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep

For Kaplan, their Unlimited Prep course provides students with materials for several different tests they might take as high school students. In addition to SAT classes, students can take classes for the ACT and specific AP tests:

  • AP Biology Review Course
  • AP Calculus AB Review Course
  • AP English Language and Composition Review Course
  • AP English Literature Review Course
  • AP Human Geography Review Course
  • AP Psychology Review Course
  • AP US History Review Course
  • AP World HIstory (Modern) Review Course

In addition, Kaplan used this upgrade as a chance to fix one of the most common complaints about their more basic courses, namely the 6-month cutoff to view course materials. WIth Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course, students can access course materials until the December of their senior year. 

Unfortunately, while this date is fine for SAT and ACT prep (the latest possible date to take these tests for college applications is in December), this means that students can’t use Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep materials for AP review in May of their senior year, the most common time for AP tests.

The Princeton Review’s 1400+ Course

The Princeton Review, on the other hand, took their course upgrade in a different direction.

Their 1400+ SAT Course is significantly longer than their basic course, with 36 hours of live instruction (versus 18 hours for their SAT Essentials Course).

The instructors who lead the classes for the 1400+ SAT Course are the Princeton Review’s top teachers. However, we’ll note that the Princeton Review does not have any specific qualifications for their instructors, so even these “top teachers” might not have top scores themselves or elite college degrees. The only way to guarantee working with a top-1% instructor and/or an Ivy-League graduate is to work with a more selective test-prep company like PrepMaven or Prep Expert.

Most famously, the Princeton Review’s 1400+ Course also offers a beefed-up score guarantee. For students who already have at least a 1250 on previous SAT tests, they guarantee that students who complete all course materials and classes will score a 1400 on their next SAT.

That’s attractive to many students, although we will note that there is a LOT of fine print involved.

We’ll also mention that a 1400, while quite good, is usually not a high enough score for applications to the Ivy League or most of the top-tier schools.

The verdict: for students who specifically want to focus on the SAT, the Princeton Review’s deluxe offering is better, with a longer course, better teachers, and a stronger guarantee. The Kaplan Review’s upgrade, on the other hand, gives students access to basic classes for the ACT and a handful of AP tests. 

Either option is fine for students who specifically want to work with a large test-prep company. However, students who want to work with top-tier instructors who have extensive experience, Ivy-League degrees, and top 1% scores themselves might consider a smaller tutoring company like PrepMaven, Elite Ivy Tutors, or the Tutoring Service of New York.


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: On-demand video SAT prep courses

Princeton Review and Kaplan are two of the biggest test prep companies, both with thousands of instructors helping students to prepare for a variety of important tests.

(Note that there is zero connection between the Princeton Review and Princeton University. Their name refers to the town of Princeton in New Jersey, and they just happen to benefit from the confusion.)

Until recently, the Princeton Review did not offer any pre-recorded video courses for SAT or ACT prep.

However, they’re just launched a new set of offerings for self-paced video courses, taking advantage of their resources as a huge company.

Of course, “self-paced” and “on demand” are just other ways of referring to pre-recorded video lessons. These self-directed courses are best for students who are capable of managing their own schedules and tracking progress without the assistance of an instructor.

For both Princeton Review and Kaplan, these On-Demand courses are the least expensive option for SAT prep. Both offer a mix of short video lessons paired with practice questions and short quizzes.

Princeton Review Kaplan
Cost of pre-recorded video SAT prep course $299 SAT only
$499 SAT and ACT
$199
Practice tests 15 practice tests 8 practice tests (of which 4 are real SAT tests)
Access to materials 1 year 6 months
Includes AP materials Limited video lessons for US Government, US History, World History, English Language, and Chemistry no
Cost of 10 hours add-on tutoring $200 (discount add-on rate, so $699 total) $1999 (no discount rate)

For Kaplan’s course, we particularly like the video explanations that accompany each of the quiz questions, although there are fewer of these videos than we’d like, since Kaplan’s course has only a handful of questions per concept.

For the Princeton Review’s course, we like that students will get a custom study schedule after they take a diagnostic test. Of course, this is produced by an algorithm and will be less nuanced and personalized than an individual study schedule created by an experienced tutor, but it’s still more customization than offered by Kaplan, which has a more rigid structure.

SAT answer bubble sheet

Practice tests and study materials

In terms of sheer volume of SAT practice questions, the Princeton Review also wins by a significant margin — Princeton Review has about 2000 questions while Kaplan has about 1000 questions. However, we’d point out that the best practice materials are always real SAT questions from past tests. (Eight full tests are available for free from the College Board or on their non-profit partner Khan Academy.) While companies try to mimic the test style as best they can when creating these proprietary question banks, they’re never exactly the same as the real ones. Over the years, we’ve found many questions from the Princeton Review’s question banks that do not accurately reflect the real SAT.

In addition, both the Princeton Review and Kaplan provide students with full practice tests (8 tests from Kaplan, and 15 tests from Princeton Review). 

We found Kaplan’s advertising about the practice tests to be quite disingenuous, because 4 of their practice tests are available for free directly from the College Board, and also in a more interactive format from Khan Academy! It’s true that they’re great practice resources, but there’s no need to pay Kaplan for access to practice tests.

As for the tests from the Princeton Review and the other 4 practice tests from Kaplan… just as we said about the individual practice questions, we strongly recommend using real SAT tests for practice, not fake tests created by an outside company. A top-notch tutor or SAT prep class can help students navigate how to use the existing real SAT tests most effectively. 

Access to materials

One significant downside of Kaplan’s On Demand SAT prep course is that it’s only available for 6 months. After that, there’s no way to extend access to the test materials. Given that most students take the SAT more than once, and it can be ideal to take the SAT for the first time early on to reduce time pressure, 6 months is not enough time for many students.

The Princeton Review, on the other hand, gives students 12 months of access to course materials. While this is still not as good as the lifetime access offered by PrepMaven, it’s significantly more helpful for students preparing for the tests over the course of junior year or from junior spring to senior fall.

Extras and add-ons

One of the main differences between Kaplan and Princeton Review’s pre-recorded video courses is that the Princeton Review offers several extras and add-ons that may be helpful.

All of the Princeton Review’s packages for pre-recorded SAT prep include a limited number of review videos for 5 AP tests: US Government, US History, World History, English Language, and Chemistry. For students who happen to be taking one of those AP classes that year, this is a nice bonus, though not essential.

(Note that many common AP subjects are not included, such as AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP European History, AP English Literature, and AP Spanish.)

For an extra $200 (which comes to $499), the Princeton Review will give students access to their videos and question bank for the ACT as well. Given that many students take both tests at least once, this could be helpful for some students.

(Of course, the most effective way to prepare for both tests at the same time is to work with an experienced tutor who can highlight areas of overlap between the tests, as well as key differences that could surprise students. Smart study will avoid overlap and confusion and maximize success on both tests. With the right tutor, it’s certainly possible to prepare for both the SAT and the ACT at the same time.)

Finally, for an additional $200 ($699 in total), students can add on 10 hours of on-demand SAT tutoring at a very reasonable rate. This is one of the biggest benefits of Princeton Review’s new program, since individual tutoring is a great way to address problem areas for students.

However, this add-on SAT tutoring is much lower-quality than we’d like. The Princeton Review uses a different tutor pool for their “on-demand” SAT tutoring, and tutors are less trained and experienced than their higher-end tutors. In fact, there are no required qualifications for these SAT tutors — tutors aren’t required to have scored well on the SAT themselves or have teaching experience.

Princeton Review vs Kaplan On-Demand: Our verdict

In the end, the pre-recorded video courses from both Princeton Review and Kaplan are fine, but not great, ways to brush up on concepts covered by the SAT and do some practice.

Kaplan’s course is a little less expensive ($199 compared to $299), but given the additional 6 months of access and bonus AP videos, we’d choose the Princeton Review over Kaplan.

Nevertheless, we would not recommend either course to students. This is because for self-directed SAT preparation there are already great study materials available completely for free from the College Board and the educational non-profit Khan Academy. 

Students can print out pdfs of 8 complete tests and detailed answer explanations directly from the College Board. On Khan Academy, students can create a dashboard to track progress through their SAT prep, watch videos reviewing key concepts, and do targeted practice.

If students need more help than offered by these free resources, then it’s likely that a live course with access to an instructor or one-on-one tutoring will be more effective than a pre-recorded video course.

This is also true for high-scoring students who are aiming for an amazing score that will help get them into the Ivy League/Stanford/MIT/etc. Typically the best fit for high-scoring students is private tutoring with a top 1% instructor.

Winner: the Princeton Review’s course is better, but we recommend the completely free Khan Academy over either option!


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Private SAT Tutoring

Princeton Review Kaplan
Tutoring rate $150–420/hour $115–200/hour
Minimum tutoring package $540 for 3 hours $1999 for 10 hours
Instructor qualifications None specified, but some training None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Score increase guarantee Elite 1500+ option, $7560: for qualifying students who start with a 1400+, guarantee of 1500, with tutoring at $420/hour Higher score (could be just 10 points higher)

In addition to pre-recorded courses and group classes, both the Princeton Review and Kaplan offer individual SAT tutoring.

Individual tutoring might be an especially good fit for students who need more than a quick review of core concepts. This has been especially true after Covid, as there has been an unprecedented drop in students' math and reading skills due to interruptions in schooling.

Individual tutoring is also a great idea for students who are pursuing very high scores (1400 and above), and who might feel bored in a general class aimed at the average student. High-achieving students should make sure that they’re working with a tutor who got a top score on the SAT themself. 

That said, one-on-one tutoring can be a good fit for any student! Individual tutoring sessions tend to be more impactful in a shorter period of time, since they can hone in on the specific weaknesses of that student, so they’re great for busy students who want to make the most of their SAT study time. 

An experienced tutor can also make sure to create individualized homework assignments that target the areas the student needs to strengthen to improve their SAT scores.

How do Kaplan and the Princeton Review compare for SAT tutoring?

Their one-on-one tutoring offerings are fairly similar in quality.

One significant difference, however, is the minimum cost to start tutoring. The Princeton Review now offers a smaller package of 3 tutoring hours for $540 ($180/hour). This is a steep price, and 3 hours isn’t very much time for students to learn, but it’s at least more accessible to families.

On the other hand, Kaplan’s smallest package for SAT tutoring is a hefty $1999 for 10 tutoring hours ($200/hour). This is quite a high rate for tutoring, and it’s a very expensive minimum cost.

Are either of these tutoring services worth the high prices?

We found both Kaplan and the Princeton Review to be significantly overpriced compared to other options for SAT tutoring.

These costs of $180/hour or $200/hour are very high, especially considering that their tutors have no required qualifications like high scores themselves or degrees from top schools!

Neither the Princeton Review nor Kaplan requires any specific qualifications for their SAT tutors — instructors are not required to be top scorers on the SAT themselves or have graduated from a top-tier university.

Yale University
Yale University

In contrast, several other SAT prep providers hire only top 1% scorers (in the 99th percentile), which means scoring about a 1550 on the SAT. (This is definitely a competitive score for the Ivy League and any other top school.) Students might consider PrepMaven (Ivy League and top 1%), SoFlo Tutors (top 1%), or Prep Expert (top 1%).

Note that if high-achieving students are aiming for a National Merit scholarship, they’ll need a top 1% score on the PSAT, the version of the SAT that students take in October of their junior year. Every year, $35 million in scholarships are awarded through the National Merit program, and some colleges offer full-ride scholarships and other perks to National Merit students. An elite SAT tutor can help with preparation for the PSAT and this competition as well as the SAT. 

The verdict: unless families specifically want to work with a large test-prep company, we definitely recommend looking elsewhere for SAT tutoring. Both the Princeton Review and Kaplan are significantly overpriced for SAT tutoring. Several smaller test prep companies (like PrepMaven, SoFlo, Elite Ivy Tutors, Tutoring Service of New York, or Prep Expert) provide SAT tutoring with more highly-qualified elite tutors, often at lower rates.

Learn more about one-on-one SAT tutoring with an Ivy-League and top 1% tutor


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan Review: Online Platform

The experience and abilities of the tutor or instructor are without doubt the single most important factors in the overall quality of the educational experience for a live class or tutoring, but for online classes and tutoring the platform itself also has an impact.

The Kaplan online platform visually is pretty nice. Students have a home dashboard from which they can navigate to individual study units and practice tests. While other test prep platforms might have an individualized learning plan, Kaplan’s courses are more rigid and are not customized to meet the particular strengths and weaknesses of individual students.

Many clients have reported technical problems with the platform, which are compounded by difficulty reaching customer service.

Overall, it seems that Kaplan’s online learning platform leaves room for improvement.

The verdict: Princeton Review’s online platform is stronger overall, as Kaplan’s is known to have frequent technical difficulties.


Kaplan Review: Customer Service

When speaking with families, the most common critique of Kaplan’s educational services was actually about their lackluster customer support.

Many clients reported that it was impossible to reach Kaplan’s customer support or technical support. Emails and messages went unanswered, and phone lines required wait times of several hours.

The verdict: Princeton Review’s customer service has a better reputation than Kaplan’s. 


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan Review: Final Verdict

The Princeton Review (no connection to Princeton University) is one of the biggest and most well-known companies. Their tutoring is pricey, but a solid option. Instructors go through a more extensive training process than at many other competitors, but there’s no requirement for instructors to be graduates of top schools or high scorers themselves.

When choosing between Kaplan and the Princeton Review for SAT prep, we found the Princeton Review to be better overall.

However, unless families specifically want to work with a large test-prep company, we recommend considering other test-prep services that offer higher-quality courses and tutoring for comparable or even lower prices.

For families on a tighter budget, we’d suggest looking for an independent tutor on Wyzant. It’s a tutoring marketplace platform, so the quality varies hugely and there’s no oversight or qualification requirements, but you might find a decent tutor under $40/hour.

Students preparing for the SAT should also check out Khan Academy. This online educational platform is completely free and is the only service to partner directly with the College Board, the makers of the SAT. For students with enough self-discipline to stick to a study schedule, Khan Academy can be a powerful tool. We don’t recommend paying for other self-guided courses unless students have already exhausted the resources available for free from Khan Academy and the College Board.

Princeton University
Princeton University

PrepMaven’s SAT MasterClass is the only option that provides students with the opportunity to follow up on questions directly with the instructor during weekly office hours. It’s also the only course under $1000 to guarantee the identity of the instructor, as all SAT MasterClasses are taught by co-founder Kevin, a Princeton graduate and top 1% scorer. 

For one-on-one tutoring, PrepMaven is the best out there both in terms of tutor quality and price. Starting at just $79/hour, students can work with current undergraduates at Princeton, Harvard, and other Ivy-League universities to prepare for the SAT. Families can also work with experienced, professional educators and Ivy-League graduates at $149/hour. As a boutique tutoring service, PrepMaven offers careful attention to each student and boasts amazing customer reviews.


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competition

Princeton Review vs Kaplan: Which ACT Prep Service is Better?

In this Princeton Review vs. Kaplan face-off, we pit two of the biggest test prep companies against each other to see which offers the best ACT prep.

From instructor qualifications to price, online platform, guarantees, and other features, discover which is the best ACT prep service.

Both Kaplan and the Princeton Review offer test prep in many different formats, so we'll cover their group ACT classes, one-on-one tutoring, video on-demand courses, and all of their test-prep add-ons.

Not sure how to select an online tutoring service?

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan Overview

Live group ACT courses:

Princeton Review’s ACT Essentials Course Kaplan’s Live Online ACT Course
Cost of basic ACT live group course $949 $549
Instructor qualifications None specified, but some training None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Class size Varies, average around 12 students Up to 30 students
Practice tests and study materials 11 practice tests + 140 hours of additional video lessons to review individual concepts + question bank 5 practice tests + question bank
Access to materials 12 months 6 months
Option to add tutoring Purchase separately for $150–190/hour; pack of 3 hours is $540 Live Online Plus Course: additional $300 for 3 hours of one-on-one tutoring ($100/hour)

Pre-recorded ACT courses:

Princeton Review Kaplan
Cost of pre-recorded video ACT prep course $499 SAT and ACT (no ACT only) $199
Practice tests 10 practice tests 5 practice tests
Access to materials 1 year 6 months
Includes AP materials Limited video lessons for US Government, US History, World History, English Language, and Chemistry no
Cost of 10 hours add-on tutoring $200 (discount add-on rate, so $699 total) $1999 (no discount rate)

Private ACT tutoring:

Princeton Review Kaplan
Tutoring rate $150–420/hour $120–150/hour
Minimum tutoring package $540 for 3 hours $749 for 5 hours
Instructor qualifications None specified, but some training None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Score increase guarantee Elite 34+ option, $7560, $420/hour: if you don’t score a 34+ or improve your score by 5 points, get 50–100% back  Higher score (could be just 1 point higher)


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Group ACT prep classes

The flagship ACT prep options for both Princeton Review and Kaplan are online group classes. This might be what most people think of when they imagine ACT prep: a group of students all learning the basics of ACT concepts and an introduction to the test format, taught in real time by a single instructor.

Let’s dive into the differences between the group ACT courses from Kaplan and the Princeton Review!

(It’s worth restating that there’s no connection between Princeton Review and Princeton University.)

There are several options from each company for this type of course, so we’ll summarize them here:

Princeton Review live online group classes for ACT prep

Kaplan live online group classes for ACT prep

  • Kaplan Live Online ACT course, $549 — live group classes and practice
  • Kaplan Live Online Plus ACT course, $849 — same as the Live Online course, plus 3 hours of individual tutoring
  • Kaplan Unlimited Prep course, $1999 — same as the Live Online course but with access to course materials until December of senior year, plus material for PSAT, SAT, and select APs

How do these compare against each other? Let’s take a look at them one by one.

student working on online SAT prep

The basic course: Princeton Review ACT Essentials vs Kaplan Live Online ACT

Princeton Review’s ACT Essentials Course Kaplan’s Live Online ACT Course
Cost of basic ACT live group course $949 $549
Instructor qualifications None specified, but some training None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Class size Varies, average around 12 students Up to 30 students
Practice tests and study materials 15 practice tests + 140 hours of additional video lessons to review individual concepts + question bank 5 practice tests + question bank
Access to materials 12 months 6 months
Option to add tutoring Purchase separately for $150–190/hour; pack of 3 hours is $540 Live Online Plus Course: additional $300 for 3 hours of one-on-one tutoring ($100/hour)

Kaplan’s Live Online ACT course is their flagship offering for ACT prep. The course includes 9 sessions of 2 hours each for $549. This is $400 less than the basic ACT course offered by the Princeton Review, which is their ACT Essentials Course ($949).

How do these two courses differ from each other, and is Princeton Review’s course worth the increased price?

Instructors

The most important factor for educational quality is always the teacher. Neither Princeton Review nor Kaplan have any specific qualifications for their ACT instructors, which isn’t great. This means that instructors did not necessarily score highly on the test themselves. They don’t need to have teaching experience or a degree from a top school.

We do know that the ACT instructors at the Princeton Review tend to be more highly trained. Kaplan, on the other hand, tends to hire instructors who scored in the 90th percentile — good scores, but not high enough to get into the Ivy League or most of the top-50 schools.

Class sizes

One significant flaw of Kaplan’s ACT classes is that all of them tend to be large classes with up to 30 students. In fact, Kaplan is notorious for canceling classes if enrollment isn’t high enough to protect their profit margins.

Kaplan tries to deal with large class sizes by including a second instructor present in the online chat for each class, available to answer questions without disrupting the main discussion. While this is a neat feature, we prefer having smaller class sizes to begin with. After all, one of the main reasons why students learn better from a live class compared to a pre-recorded class is that the instructor can answer questions in real time and adapt to the needs of the students.

Princeton Review’s ACT classes, on the other hand, tend to be a more reasonable size, averaging around 12 students per class.

Practice tests and study materials

Practice tests and study materials for both Kaplan and the Princeton Review live group classes are the same as their materials for self-directed courses, discussed below.

The Princeton Review offers more ACT practice questions and more full-length practice tests than Kaplan does. 

However, these materials aren’t as helpful as one might think. The best practice materials are always real ACT questions from past tests. While companies try to mimic the test style as best they can when creating these proprietary question banks, they’re never exactly the same as the real ones. Over the years, we’ve found many questions from the Princeton Review’s question banks that do not accurately reflect the real ACT.

Same for the full-length practice tests: we strongly recommend using real ACT tests for practice, not fake tests created by an outside company. A top-notch tutor or ACT prep class can help students navigate how to use the existing real ACT tests most effectively. 

Access to materials

One significant downside of Kaplan’s On Demand ACT prep course is that it’s only available for 6 months. After that, there’s no way to extend access to the test materials. Given that most students take the ACT more than once, and it can be ideal to take the ACT for the first time early on to reduce time pressure, 6 months is not enough time for many students.

The Princeton Review gives students 12 months to access course materials. This is much more helpful for students and more standard for the test-prep industry.

Option to add tutoring

One thing that we liked about Kaplan’s ACT course was the option to add 3 hours of one-on-one tutoring at a discounted rate compared to their usual ACT tutoring. Although 3 hours isn’t much time, this option allows students to get some additional help with a few specific problem areas.

The Princeton Review does not have a specific add-on tutoring package, but families can purchase tutoring packs starting at $540 for 3 hours.

However, as we discuss below, Kaplan’s ACT tutors do not necessarily have strong credentials for teaching the ACT, so students might be better off working with a more experienced ACT tutor.

The verdict: the basic course from the Princeton Review is a bit better than Kaplan’s version, as students get 12 months of access to study materials and a smaller class size. However, neither course is worth the high price tag, since there are other options from smaller companies that offer more individualized attention and more experienced instructors with Ivy-League degrees and top-1% scores themselves.

student doing test prep on laptop

The deluxe course: Princeton Review 31+ ACT vs Kaplan Unlimited Prep 

Princeton Review’s 31+ ACT Course Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep Course
Cost of deluxe ACT live group course $2199 $1999
Instructor qualifications None specified, but more training and experience None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Class size Varies, average around 12 students Up to 30 students
Practice tests and study materials 10 practice tests + additional video lessons to review individual concepts + question bank 5 practice tests + question bank + AP materials
Access to materials 12 months Until December of senior year
Score increase guarantee For qualifying students who start with a 26+, guarantee of 31 Higher score (could be just 1 point higher)

Both the Princeton Review and Kaplan offer an upgraded version of their basic ACT group course. However, each company took this “deluxe” option in a different direction.

Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep

For Kaplan, their Unlimited Prep course provides students with materials for several different tests they might take as high school students. In addition to ACT classes, students can take classes for the SAT and specific AP tests:

  • AP Biology Review Course
  • AP Calculus AB Review Course
  • AP English Language and Composition Review Course
  • AP English Literature Review Course
  • AP Human Geography Review Course
  • AP Psychology Review Course
  • AP US History Review Course
  • AP World HIstory (Modern) Review Course

In addition, Kaplan used this upgrade as a chance to fix one of the most common complaints about their more basic courses, namely the 6-month cutoff to view course materials. WIth Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course, students can access course materials until the December of their senior year. 

Unfortunately, while this date is fine for ACT and SAT prep (the latest possible date to take these tests for college applications is in December), this means that students can’t use Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep materials for AP review in May of their senior year, the most common time for AP tests.

The Princeton Review’s 31+ Course

The Princeton Review, on the other hand, took their course upgrade in a different direction.

Their 31+ ACT Course is significantly longer than their basic course, with 36 hours of live instruction (versus 18 hours for their ACT Essentials Course).

The instructors who lead the classes for the 31+ ACT Course are the Princeton Review’s top teachers. However, we’ll note that the Princeton Review does not have any specific qualifications for their instructors, so even these “top teachers” might not have top scores themselves or elite college degrees.

Most famously, the Princeton Review’s 31+ Course also offers a beefed-up score guarantee. For students who already have at least a 26 on previous ACT tests, they guarantee that students who complete all course materials and classes will score a 31 on their next ACT.

That’s attractive to many students, although we will note that there is a LOT of fine print involved.

We’ll also mention that a 31, while quite good, is usually not a high enough score for applications to the Ivy League or most of the top-tier schools.

The verdict: for students who specifically want to focus on the ACT, the Princeton Review’s deluxe offering is better, with a longer course, better teachers, and a stronger guarantee. The Kaplan Review’s upgrade, on the other hand, gives students access to basic classes not just the ACT, but also for the SAT and a handful of AP tests. 

Either option is fine for students who specifically want to work with a large test-prep company. However, students who want to work with top-tier instructors who have extensive experience, Ivy-League degrees, and top 1% scores themselves might consider a smaller tutoring company like PrepMaven, Elite Ivy Tutors, or the Tutoring Service of New York.


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: On-demand video ACT prep courses

Princeton Review and Kaplan are two of the biggest test prep companies, both with thousands of instructors helping students to prepare for a variety of important tests.

(Note that there is zero connection between the Princeton Review and Princeton University. Their name refers to the town of Princeton in New Jersey, and they just happen to benefit from the confusion.)

Until recently, the Princeton Review did not offer any pre-recorded video courses for ACT or SAT prep.

However, they’re just launched a new set of offerings for self-paced video courses, taking advantage of their resources as a huge company.

Of course, “self-paced” and “on demand” are just other ways of referring to pre-recorded video lessons. These self-directed courses are best for students who are capable of managing their own schedules and tracking progress without the assistance of an instructor.

For both Princeton Review and Kaplan, these On-Demand courses are the least expensive option for ACT prep. Both offer a mix of short video lessons paired with practice questions and short quizzes.

At the moment, Princeton Review offers their pre-recorded ACT class only as a bundle with their SAT class. There’s no way to purchase just the ACT class by itself.

(Of course, the most effective way to prepare for both tests at the same time is to work with an experienced tutor who can highlight areas of overlap between the tests, as well as key differences that could surprise students. Smart study will avoid overlap and confusion and maximize success on both tests. With the right tutor, it’s certainly possible to prepare for both the ACT and the SAT at the same time.)

Princeton Review Kaplan
Cost of pre-recorded video ACT prep course $499 SAT and ACT $199
Practice tests 10 practice tests 5 practice tests
Access to materials 1 year 6 months
Includes AP materials Limited video lessons for US Government, US History, World History, English Language, and Chemistry no
Cost of 10 hours add-on tutoring $200 (discount add-on rate, so $699 total) $1999 (no discount rate)

For Kaplan’s course, we particularly like the video explanations that accompany each of the quiz questions, although there are fewer of these videos than we’d like, since Kaplan’s course has only a handful of questions per concept.

For the Princeton Review’s course, we like that students will get a custom study schedule after they take a diagnostic test. Of course, this is produced by an algorithm and will be less nuanced and personalized than an individual study schedule created by an experienced tutor, but it’s still more customization than offered by Kaplan, which has a more rigid structure.

student working with online tutoring

Practice tests and study materials

In terms of sheer volume of ACT practice questions, the Princeton Review also wins by a significant margin. However, we’d point out that the best practice materials are always real ACT questions from past tests. While companies try to mimic the test style as best they can when creating these proprietary question banks, they’re never exactly the same as the real ones. Over the years, we’ve found many questions from the Princeton Review’s question banks that do not accurately reflect the real ACT.

In addition, both the Princeton Review and Kaplan provide students with full practice tests.

However, just as we said about the individual practice questions, we strongly recommend using real ACT tests for practice, not fake tests created by an outside company. A top-notch tutor or ACT prep class can help students navigate how to use the existing real ACT tests most effectively.

Access to materials

One significant downside of Kaplan’s On Demand ACT prep course is that it’s only available for 6 months. After that, there’s no way to extend access to the test materials. Given that most students take the ACT more than once, and it can be ideal to take the ACT for the first time early on to reduce time pressure, 6 months is not enough time for many students.

The Princeton Review, on the other hand, gives students 12 months of access to course materials. While this is still not as good as the lifetime access offered by some competitors, it’s significantly more helpful for students preparing for the tests over the course of junior year or from junior spring to senior fall.

Extras and add-ons

One of the main differences between Kaplan and Princeton Review’s pre-recorded video courses is that the Princeton Review offers several extras and add-ons that may be helpful.

All of the Princeton Review’s packages for pre-recorded ACT prep include a limited number of review videos for 5 AP tests: US Government, US History, World History, English Language, and Chemistry. For students who happen to be taking one of those AP classes that year, this is a nice bonus, though not essential.

(Note that many common AP subjects are not included, such as AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP European History, AP English Literature, and AP Spanish.)

The Princeton Review's course also gives students access to their videos and question bank for the SAT. Given that many students take both tests at least once, this could be helpful for some students.

(Of course, the most effective way to prepare for both tests at the same time is to work with an experienced tutor who can highlight areas of overlap between the tests, as well as key differences that could surprise students. Smart study will avoid overlap and confusion and maximize success on both tests. With the right tutor, it’s certainly possible to prepare for both the ACT and the SAT at the same time.)

Finally, for an additional $200 ($699 in total), students can add on 10 hours of on-demand ACT tutoring at a very reasonable rate. This is one of the biggest benefits of Princeton Review’s new program, since individual tutoring is a great way to address problem areas for students.

However, this add-on ACT tutoring is much lower-quality than we’d like. The Princeton Review uses a different tutor pool for their “on-demand” ACT tutoring, and tutors are less trained and experienced than their higher-end tutors. In fact, there are no required qualifications for these ACT tutors — tutors aren’t required to have scored well on the ACT themselves or have teaching experience.

student working on online test prep

Princeton Review vs Kaplan On-Demand: Our verdict

In the end, the pre-recorded video courses from both Princeton Review and Kaplan are fine, but not great, ways to brush up on concepts covered by the ACT and do some practice.

Kaplan’s course is significantly less expensive ($199 compared to $499), but given the additional 6 months of access, SAT content, and bonus AP videos, we’d choose the Princeton Review over Kaplan.

Nevertheless, we would not recommend either course to students. This is because for self-directed ACT preparation there are already great study materials available completely for free from the makers of the ACT and the educational non-profit Khan Academy

Students can do a full practice test online or on paper for free from the ACT. On Khan Academy, students can create a dashboard to track progress through their test prep, watch videos reviewing key concepts, and do targeted practice.

Students familiar with Khan Academy might point out that their materials are developed for the SAT in partnership with the College Board (creators of the SAT), not for the ACT. 

However, while the SAT and the ACT are obviously different tests, there’s a lot of overlap. (The main difference is that the ACT has more advanced math — we compare the tests in detail here.) Especially for families on a budget, working through these high-quality free test-prep materials on Khan Academy is a great place to start. Magoosh’s ACT prep course is pretty good value, too.

If students need more help than offered by these free resources, then it’s likely that a live course with access to an instructor or one-on-one tutoring will be more effective than a pre-recorded video course.

This is also true for high-scoring students who are aiming for an amazing score that will help get them into the Ivy League/Stanford/MIT/etc. Typically the best fit for high-scoring students is private tutoring with a top 1% instructor.

Winner: the Princeton Review’s course is better, but we recommend the completely free Khan Academy over either option!


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan: Private ACT Tutoring

Princeton Review Kaplan
Tutoring rate $167–420/hour $120–150/hour
Minimum tutoring package $540 for 3 hours $749 for 5 hours
Instructor qualifications None specified, but some training None specified, but usually 90th-percentile
Score increase guarantee Elite 34+ option, $7560, $420/hour: if you don’t score a 34+ or improve your score by 5 points, get 50–100% back  Higher score (could be just 1 point higher)

In addition to pre-recorded courses and group classes, both the Princeton Review and Kaplan offer individual ACT tutoring.

Individual tutoring might be an especially good fit for students who need more than a quick review of core concepts. This has been especially true after Covid, as there has been an unprecedented drop in student’s math and reading skills due to interruptions in schooling.

Individual tutoring is also a great idea for students who are pursuing very high scores (31 and above), and who might feel bored in a general class aimed at the average student. High-achieving students should make sure that they’re working with a tutor who got a top score on the ACT themself. 

That said, one-on-one tutoring can be a good fit for any student! Individual tutoring sessions tend to be more impactful in a shorter period of time, since they can hone in on the specific weaknesses of that student, so they’re great for busy students who want to make the most of their ACT study time. 

An experienced tutor can also make sure to create individualized homework assignments that target the areas the student needs to strengthen to improve their ACT scores.

How do Kaplan and the Princeton Review compare for ACT tutoring?

Their one-on-one tutoring offerings are fairly similar in quality.

The minimum cost of starting tutoring is slightly different between the two companies. 

The Princeton Review now offers a smaller package of 3 tutoring hours for $540 ($180/hour). This is a steep price, and 3 hours isn’t very much time for students to learn, but it’s at least more accessible to families.

Kaplan’s smallest package for ACT tutoring is $749 for 5 tutoring hours ($150/hour).

Are either of these tutoring services worth the high prices?

We found both Kaplan and the Princeton Review to be significantly overpriced compared to other options for ACT tutoring.

These costs of $150/hour or $200/hour are very high, especially considering that their tutors have no required qualifications like high scores themselves or degrees from top schools!

Neither the Princeton Review nor Kaplan requires any specific qualifications for their ACT tutors — instructors are not required to be top scorers on the ACT themselves or have graduated from a top-tier university.

Harvard University
Harvard University

In contrast, several other ACT prep providers hire only top 1% scorers (in the 99th percentile), which means scoring a 35 or 36 on the ACT. (This is definitely a competitive score for the Ivy League and any other top school.) Students might consider PrepMaven (Ivy League and top 1%), SoFlo Tutors (top 1%), or Prep Expert (top 1%).

The verdict: unless families specifically want to work with a large test-prep company, we definitely recommend looking elsewhere for ACT tutoring. Both the Princeton Review and Kaplan are significantly overpriced for ACT tutoring. Several smaller test prep companies (like PrepMaven, SoFlo, Elite Ivy Tutors, Tutoring Service of New York, or Prep Expert) provide ACT tutoring with more highly-qualified elite tutors, often at lower rates.

Learn more about one-on-one ACT tutoring with an Ivy-League and top 1% tutor


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan Review: Online Platform

The experience and abilities of the tutor or instructor are without doubt the single most important factors in the overall quality of the educational experience for a live class or tutoring, but for online classes and tutoring the platform itself also has an impact.

The Kaplan online platform visually is pretty nice. Students have a home dashboard from which they can navigate to individual study units and practice tests. While other test prep platforms might have an individualized learning plan, Kaplan’s courses are more rigid and are not customized to meet the particular strengths and weaknesses of individual students.

Many clients have reported technical problems with the platform, which are compounded by difficulty reaching customer service.

Overall, it seems that Kaplan’s online learning platform leaves room for improvement.

The verdict: Princeton Review’s online platform is stronger overall, as Kaplan’s is known to have frequent technical difficulties.


Kaplan Review: Customer Service

When speaking with families, the most common critique of Kaplan’s educational services was actually about their lackluster customer support.

Many clients reported that it was impossible to reach Kaplan’s customer support or technical support. Emails and messages went unanswered, and phone lines required wait times of several hours.

The verdict: Princeton Review’s customer service has a better reputation than Kaplan’s. 


Princeton Review vs. Kaplan Review: Final Verdict

The Princeton Review (no connection to Princeton University) is one of the biggest and most well-known companies. Their tutoring is pricey, but a solid option. Instructors go through a more extensive training process than at many other competitors, but there’s no requirement for instructors to be graduates of top schools or high scorers themselves.

When choosing between Kaplan and the Princeton Review for ACT prep, we found the Princeton Review to be better overall.

However, unless families specifically want to work with a large test-prep company, we recommend considering other test-prep services that offer higher-quality courses and tutoring for comparable or even lower prices.

For families on a tighter budget, we’d suggest looking for an independent tutor on Wyzant. It’s a tutoring marketplace platform, so the quality varies hugely and there’s no oversight or qualification requirements, but you might find a decent tutor under $40/hour.

Students preparing for the ACT should also check out Khan Academy. This online educational platform is completely free and is the only service to partner directly with the College Board, the makers of the SAT. The ACT and SAT are different tests, but there are enough similarities (especially at the beginning of studying) that students can use this high-quality free SAT prep to get started with the ACT as well. For students with enough self-discipline to stick to a study schedule, Khan Academy can be a powerful tool.

Princeton University
Princeton University

We don’t recommend paying for self-guided courses unless students have already exhausted the resources available for free from Khan Academy and the College Board.

For one-on-one tutoring, PrepMaven is the best out there both in terms of tutor quality and price. Starting at just $79/hour, students can work with current undergraduates at Princeton, Harvard, and other Ivy-League universities to prepare for the ACT. Families can also work with experienced, professional educators and Ivy-League graduates at $149/hour. As a boutique tutoring service, PrepMaven offers careful attention to each student and boasts amazing customer reviews.


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Kaplan SAT Prep Review: Rating All of Kaplan’s SAT Prep Options

Kaplan is one of the giants in test prep, and their courses and tutoring for SAT prep are well-known. 

Considering using Kaplan for SAT prep? Read this in-depth review first.

We did the hard work of researching all about Kaplan to get all the information you need to find your best fit for test prep.

For more SAT prep options, check out our list of the 12 best SAT prep courses and the top 15 SAT tutoring services.

Not sure how to select an online tutoring service?

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


Kaplan Review: Fast Facts

  • Kaplan is one of the largest companies for educational products — they have about 12,000 teachers and staff around the world, and they publish dozens of books on test prep
  • Kaplan offers several different plans for SAT prep, including pre-recorded video courses, live group courses, and individual tutoring
  • SAT prep with a live instructor (not just pre-recorded videos) starts at $699
  • Kaplan’s group classes are much larger than those of competitors, with up to 30 students per class — and Kaplan tends to cancel classes if not enough students sign up
  • Instructors are less-qualified than many competitors, and they’re assigned by Kaplan with no option to choose a specific class instructor or tutor
  • Kaplan is known for having unresponsive customer service, with clients reporting waiting hours on hold or sending emails and messages that go unanswered
student working on online SAT prep

Not sure what kind of tutoring is the right fit? Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


Kaplan Review: SAT Prep Options & Pricing

Kaplan has three main options for SAT prep:

  • Kaplan On Demand SAT course, $199 — pre-recorded video lessons and practice questions, but no contact with an instructor
  • Kaplan Live Online SAT course, $699 — live group classes and practice
  • Kaplan Live Online Plus SAT course, $999 — same as the Live Online course, plus 3 hours of individual tutoring
  • Kaplan Unlimited Prep course, $1999 — access to course materials until December of senior year, and access includes other tests as well (PSAT, ACT, and select APs)
  • Kaplan SAT Tutoring, $1999 for 10 tutoring hours, $2899 for 20 tutoring hours, $3799 for 30 tutoring hours, or $4599 for 40 tutoring hours ($115–200/hour) — one-on-one tutoring 

These prices are high given the instructors’ lack of credentials (more on that below). 

Kaplan’s SAT prep courses are twice as expensive as the similar offerings from Magoosh ($399). They’re a similar price to the prep courses offered by Princeton Review ($949) with smaller class sizes or the SAT masterclass from PrepMaven ($995) with the company’s founder (a Princeton grad) and more individualized attention, including additional help outside of class time.

Kaplan’s tutoring rates makes them more expensive than higher-quality tutoring services with top 1% and Ivy-League tutors — for example, families can consider tutoring with elite Ivy-League tutors at PrepMaven starting at $79/hour, with top scorers at SoFlo ($60–90/hour), or with graduate students from the Tutoring Service of New York ($112–160/hour).

We also definitely don’t think that the On Demand course is worth the $199, given that Khan Academy offers a very similar service completely for free (keep reading to learn more).

Rating: 5/10

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Kaplan Review: On Demand SAT course

Kaplan’s least expensive course is their On Demand SAT course for $199. Of course, “on demand” is another way of referring to pre-recorded video lessons.

This type of self-directed course is best for students who are capable of managing their own schedules and tracking progress without the assistance of an instructor.

Each of the video lessons is short, never more than 10–12 minutes long. These videos are slickly produced, though students may find them a little cheesy. Each video explanation is followed by 6–7 practice questions and then a short quiz with 4–5 questions. This is Kaplan’s “Learn It, Drill It, Prove it” system.

One of the best parts of the course is the video explanation that accompanies each of the quiz questions. These are definitely helpful content, but as there are only a handful of questions per concept it’s more limited than we’d like.

In addition to this program, students enrolled in Kaplan’s On Demand SAT course also have access to Kaplan’s “Qbank,” or question bank. This is a library of multiple-choice questions that mimic the kind you’ll see on the SAT.

While additional practice questions are helpful, we find that they’re less effective for raising your SAT score than working with real questions from actual past SAT tests. That’s because while Kaplan’s authors will try to mimic the test, they’re always going to have slight differences in style compared to the real SAT.

SAT answer sheet

Finally, students have access to 8 full practice tests. We found Kaplan’s advertising here to be quite disingenuous, because 4 of these practice tests are available for free directly from the College Board, and also in a more interactive format from Khan Academy! It’s true that they’re great practice resources, but there’s no need to pay Kaplan for access to practice tests.

As for the other 4 practice tests from Kaplan… just as we said about the individual practice questions, we strongly recommend using real SAT tests for practice, not fake tests created by an outside company. A top-notch tutor or SAT prep class can help students navigate how to use the existing real SAT tests most effectively. 

One significant downside of Kaplan’s On Demand SAT prep course is that it’s only available for 6 months. After that, there’s no way to extend access to the test materials. Given that most students take the SAT more than once, and it can be ideal to take the SAT for the first time early on to reduce time pressure, 6 months is not enough time for many students.

In the end, Kaplan’s On Demand SAT course is a perfectly fine way to brush up on concepts covered by the SAT and do some practice. Is it worth the $199 price tag, though? In our opinion, no. 

A very similar set of practice questions — but this time created in partnership with the College Board, the makers of the SAT — is available completely for free from Khan Academy. Similarly, 8 full real SAT tests are available from the College Board or on Khan Academy. These resources are available forever, with no 6-month cutoff.

If students need more help than offered by these resources, then it’s likely that a live course with access to an instructor or one-on-one tutoring will be more effective.

That’s also true for high-scoring students who are chasing that amazing score that will help get them into the Ivy League/Stanford/MIT/etc. Typically the best fit for high-scoring students is private tutoring with a top 1% instructor.

Rating: 4/10

Looking for the best SAT prep resources? Schedule a free test prep consultation


Kaplan Review: Live Online SAT courses

Kaplan’s Live Online SAT course

Kaplan’s Live Online SAT course is their flagship offering for SAT prep. The course includes 9 sessions of 2 hours each for $699. (Payment plans are also available.)

One advantage of Kaplan’s version of the course is that students can sign up for the class times that work for them, and can easily switch time slots. This is great for students with busy and ever-changing schedules.

That said, Kaplan is notorious for canceling classes to protect their profit margins if not enough students are signed up for them.

“We enrolled my daughter for Unlimited Prep. We expected to have one live classroom, but we never get that. They are always canceled due to low enrollments.”

“Canceled our ACT class twice causing us to have to push back our test date. Could not offer a viable alternative class and refused to refund the full fee. Horrible business practices and totally unreliable!”

Another common complaint from clients is that Kaplan’s SAT prep has a fairly rigid structure and isn’t customized to the needs of each individual student. Many students have commented that the classes moved too quickly for them:

“I told them the program did not work. I bought the Bootcamp program. It was too fast and my kid could not follow along. No one helped her, no one checked in, no one cared. She just felt like she wasn't smart enough to get it. The whole experience was awful from start to finish.”

frustrated student

In addition to the course, students receive access to the pre-recorded video explanations and quizzes from the On Demand course. They also get several hard-copy books. As we’ve mentioned, these practice materials are fine, but they’re not the best out there for SAT practice.

One interesting feature of Kaplan’s Live Online course is that for each class there is a second instructor present in the online chat, available to answer questions without disrupting the flow of the class. 

However, this feature is likely necessary because Kaplan’s class sizes are quite large, up to 30 students at a time! These classes are much larger than those offered by competitors. Such a large class size makes it hard for students to receive individual attention. 

While the chat function is great, it might be better to have a smaller class where students are able to ask the instructor questions directly during the lesson, and not written separately. In general, we found Kaplan’s SAT prep classes to be less adaptive to the needs of the individual students.

Who teaches these classes? Kaplan does not require any specific qualifications for its SAT instructors and tutors — instructors are not required to be top scorers on the test themselves or have graduated from a top-tier university.

We’re heard that Kaplan hires instructors who score in the 90th percentile and above on the SAT, although they don’t publish this cutoff, so it may not be a strict requirement. This means that instructors are above-average, but they’re not necessarily at the top. 

A 90th-percentile score is about a 1350 on the SAT (out of 1600). This is a strong score, but it’s not nearly high enough to be competitive for an Ivy-League school, where the average score is between 1450 and 1570. In fact, a 1350 isn’t good enough to be competitive at hardly any of the top-tier schools in the US.

In contrast, several other SAT prep providers hire only top 1% scorers (in the 99th percentile), which means scoring about a 1550 on the SAT. Students might consider PrepMaven (Ivy League and top 1%), Magoosh (top 1%), or Prep Expert (top 1%).

Finally, it’s important to note that like Kaplan’s On Demand course, all of these materials are only available for 6 months, and the only way to extend this is to purchase the Unlimited Prep option for $1999. This is not enough time for many students, especially considering that most students take the SAT more than once.

Rating: 2/10

Kaplan’s Live Online Plus SAT course

Kaplan also offers a Live Online Plus option for $999. This is identical to the Live Online course, but with the addition of 3 hours of one-on-one tutoring. That comes out to $100/hour for the tutoring portion, which is a discount on the price of their tutoring if purchased separately.

We like that this option allows students to get some additional help with a few specific problem areas.

However, as we discuss below, we wish that Kaplan’s tutors had stronger credentials for teaching the SAT.

Rating: 5/10

student working on online SAT prep

Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course

Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course ($1999) is its most deluxe option. For an additional $400, families can add 6 hours of individual tutoring.

If students find the large group classes to be a good fit for their learning style and want more of the same, it might be a good fit — it’s the same as the basic Live Online class, but it allows students to access the classes and practice questions until December of their senior year, rather than only 6 months. Many students report that the 6-month cutoff for the Live Online or Live Online Plus courses isn't enough time, and this option remedies that, albeit for a hefty price increase. 

The other difference with the Unlimited Prep course is that students also get access to live group classes for the ACT, PSAT (though this prep is identical to the SAT), and a handful of common AP tests:

  • AP Biology Review Course
  • AP Calculus AB Review Course
  • AP English Language and Composition Review Course
  • AP English Literature Review Course
  • AP Human Geography Review Course
  • AP Psychology Review Course
  • AP US History Review Course
  • AP World History (Modern) Review Course

(Note that other AP courses like AP Physics, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Spanish, AP Political Science, and AP European History are not included.)

Each of the AP review classes have 8 2-hour classes that review important concepts for the tests. They don’t come anywhere close to teaching the entire AP subject, but they could be a good review before the test in May.

The catch? Unfortunately, Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course expires in December of the student’s senior year. That means that students do not have access to the materials in the spring of their senior year, when many students are taking AP tests for potential college credit.

Is Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course worth the $1999 price tag? It depends. For a student who is taking several of the 8 AP subjects covered by Kaplan as a sophomore or junior, and who plans to take both the ACT and the SAT, and who likes the large class format, sure.

However, as we’ve seen, the instructors for Kaplan have significantly fewer credentials than those from other top test prep companies like PrepMaven (Ivy League and top 1%), Magoosh (top 1%), or Prep Expert (top 1%). The quality of the teacher is the single most important component of the educational experience, and Kaplan does not have the best teachers.

In addition, families should note that tech problems with Kaplan’s online course platform and unresponsive customer service have impacted the overall learning experience.

Rating: 6/10

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Kaplan Review: SAT Tutoring

In addition to their large group classes, Kaplan also offers one-on-one SAT tutoring.

Individual tutoring might be an especially good fit for students who need more than a quick review of core concepts. This has been especially true after Covid, as there has been an unprecedented drop in student’s math and reading skills due to interruptions in schooling.

Individual tutoring is also a great idea for students who are pursuing very high scores (1400 and above), and who might feel bored in a general class aimed at the average student. High-achieving students should make sure that they’re working with a tutor who got a top score on the SAT themself. 

That said, one-on-one tutoring can be a good fit for any student! Individual tutoring sessions tend to be more impactful in a shorter period of time, since they can hone in on the specific weaknesses of that student, so they’re great for busy students who want to make the most of their SAT study time. 

An experienced tutor can also make sure to create individualized homework assignments that target the areas the student needs to strengthen to improve their SAT scores.

Is Kaplan a good choice for SAT tutoring?

We found it to be significantly overpriced compared to other options.

student working with an online SAT tutor

Kaplan offers four tutoring packages of different sizes. Their minimum purchase is a package of 10 tutoring hours at $1999. This is a very large minimum purchase, much higher than those of PrepMaven, Prep Expert, SoFlo Tutors, or Wyzant

Their minimum comes out to $200/hour for tutoring, which is a very steep price — especially considering that their tutors have no required qualifications like high scores themselves or degrees from top schools!

Their hourly rate does decrease if one purchases a large tutoring package ($4599 for 40 tutoring hours), but it’s still on the higher side.

Is this higher price tied to higher quality?

Unfortunately not. As with Kaplan’s group class instructors, Kaplan does not require any specific qualifications for their SAT tutors — instructors are not required to be top scorers on the SAT themselves or have graduated from a top-tier university.

We’re heard that Kaplan hires tutors who score in the 90th percentile and above on the SAT, although since they don’t publish this cutoff, it may not be a strict requirement. This means that instructors are above-average, but they’re not necessarily at the top. 

For context, a 90th-percentile score is roughly a 1350 on the SAT (out of 1600). This is a good score, but it’s not nearly high enough to be competitive for an Ivy-League school, where the average score is between 1450 and 1570. In fact, a 1350 isn’t good enough to be competitive at any of the top-tier schools in the US.

In contrast, several other SAT prep providers hire only top 1% scorers (in the 99th percentile), which means scoring about a 1550 on the SAT. (This is definitely a competitive score for the Ivy League and any other top school.) Students might consider PrepMaven (Ivy League and top 1%), SoFlo (top 1%), or Prep Expert (top 1%).

Cornell University
Cornell University

Note that if high-achieving students are aiming for a National Merit award, they’ll need a top 1% score on the PSAT, the version of the SAT that students take in October of their junior year. Every year, $35 million in scholarships are awarded through the National Merit program, and some colleges offer full-ride scholarships and other perks to National Merit students. An elite SAT tutor can help with preparation for the PSAT and this competition as well as the SAT.

Rating: 4/10

Learn more about one-on-one SAT tutoring with an Ivy-League and top 1% tutor


Kaplan Review: Online Platform

The experience and abilities of the tutor or instructor are without doubt the single most important factors in the overall quality of the educational experience for a live class or tutoring, but for online classes and tutoring the platform itself also has an impact.

The Kaplan online platform visually is pretty nice. Students have a home dashboard from which they can navigate to individual study units and practice tests. While other test prep platforms might have an individualized learning plan, Kaplan’s courses are more rigid and are not customized to meet the particular strengths and weaknesses of individual students.

Many clients have reported technical problems with the platform, which are compounded by difficulty reaching customer service:

“They are very glitchy, and they barely have customer service. There have been days that I just spent trying to figure out their site, and I have had to cancel plans because of it.”

“The website was a jumbled mess — the website is constantly broken and will make you want to rip your hair off. Disappointingly, a lot of the course is just telling you what you already know if you are actually prepping for the standardized tests. Also, some of their methods don't even work or are just inefficient. Sorry to say, but mom and dad just wasted a **** ton of money. Save yourself your time and frustration and go somewhere else.”

“Adaptive QBank was not functioning for 2 weeks. I called and emailed several times and received responses that were unhelpful at best and rude at worst.”

frustrated client

“I’ve just stopped using the app all together and I tell people I do not recommend Kaplan for this reason. I have an ongoing tech issue with the app where it doesn’t load because of a test I generated, the result is an app that just gives me the spinning wheel of death nonstop, non resolving. I’ve done everything to try and resolve the problem, even offloading the app and reinstalling. Nothing works.”

“I thought this would be a helpful test prep experience... boy was I WRONG. Their website is a disaster and removes sections randomly so you cannot access them. Their website also deletes work consistently despite troubleshooting from customer service. Now on to customer service... Everyone I spoke to gave me an attitude despite issues being with their system. It sounds as if these customer service reps have never met a kind person in their life. I would run like the wind from Kaplan test prep!”

Overall, it seems that Kaplan’s online learning platform leaves room for improvement.

Rating: 5/10


Kaplan Review: Customer Service

When speaking with families, the most common critique of Kaplan’s educational services was actually about their lackluster customer support.

Many clients reported that it was impossible to reach Kaplan’s customer support or technical support. Emails and messages went unanswered, and phone lines required wait times of several hours.

“Waited on hold with customer service for 4 hours on two different occasions!! Can't get an actual HUMAN to help with my courses. So frustrated and will never be using this company again. Will also tell EVERYONE not to ever use them especially if you need assistance from their customer service. Don't use this company! Not worth it!”

“HORRIBLE! The course itself was fine but the lack of customer service is disgusting. If you ever need help, plan on not receiving it — no matter how urgent. No one answers the phones, the live chat doesn't work, and emails go unanswered for weeks. I wanted to renew my subscription but decided to go with another test prep service who actually cares about helping their customers.”

“I didn't like their customer support. I bought the wrong package and tried to change for what I needed and they just told me I couldn't even though I was willing to pay the difference. For me it ended up being a waste of money.”

student frustrated with laptop

“No response to support emails. I've reached out via email, chat, social media, and had no response whatsoever.”

“POOOOOOR customer support. Expensive, system does not work easily and tech support does not answer. Phone number does not understand simple words, it’s an automated service. It is a piece of junk.”

“The study material and courses were good. I have not taken the test but I am confident I will do okay. My issue is with their customer service department. At the end of every class, they always mention their email address and encourage you to reach out if you have any questions. Well I have reached out twice, and I have also messaged them directly through their online portal. I have gotten zero responses.”

Kaplan does offer its students a higher score guarantee for any of its live SAT courses. There are a lot of rules for this guarantee, and they’re known for avoiding it on technicalities, so make sure you read all of the fine print.

Note that this higher score guarantee means only a score that is higher than the previous SAT score, even if only by the smallest point increment. If you score a 1030 the first time, spend six months studying, and then score a 1040, you cannot make a claim on the guarantee. Many other SAT services offer stronger point increase guarantees of 100–140 points.

Rating: 4/10


Kaplan Review: Final Verdict

Kaplan is one of the giants of the test prep industry, and so their SAT prep products, courses, and tutoring are well-known.

However, we found that they were overall overpriced and of lower quality than other options. As one client said,

“This is a large corporation chiefly concerned with profit. It can meaningfully improve your score yes, but you are far better off buying prep books and paying a private tutor. Don't buy into a system that rips off students, instructors, and publishers.”

Their online learning platform has been reported to have tech problems, and their customer service is very hard to reach.

Their instructors and tutors do not have specific credentials, whereas other companies can boast top 1% or Ivy-League instructors.

Some of their online materials might be helpful to students studying for the SAT, but they’re not as good as real SAT questions, which are available for free elsewhere.

Ultimately, any amount of practice will help students prepare for the SAT, but there are many other options that will teach students more effectively, at better prices. 

If students are looking for a top-notch SAT prep class, but with smaller classes, more individualized attention, and top 1% instructors who hail from the Ivy League, we recommend PrepMaven’s SAT Masterclass. If families are specifically interested in one of the large test prep companies, we recommend Princeton Review over Kaplan

For families on a budget, we cannot recommend enough Khan Academy’s free SAT materials created in partnership with the College Board, creators of the SAT. Magoosh’s SAT prep course is pretty good value, too.

Princeton University
Princeton University

If students and families are looking for a more hands-on tutoring company with carefully selected Ivy-League tutors with prior teaching experience and specific training, we recommend working with a more selective tutoring service like PrepMaven ($66–349/hour) or Elite Ivy Tutors ($200–300/hour), where all of the tutors are from the Ivy-League with impressive backgrounds, and where the quality of instruction is consistently very high. 

Overall Rating: 5/10

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


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Schedule a short free consultation with an educational consultant today!



Kaplan ACT Prep Review: Rating All of Kaplan’s ACT Prep Options

Kaplan is one of the giants in test prep, and their courses and tutoring for ACT prep are well-known. 

Considering using Kaplan for ACT prep? Read this in-depth review first.

We did the hard work of researching all about Kaplan to get all the information you need to find your best fit for test prep.

For more ACT prep options, check out our list of the top 15 ACT tutoring services.

Not sure how to select an online tutoring service?

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


Kaplan Review: Fast Facts

  • Kaplan is one of the largest companies for educational products — they have about 12,000 teachers and staff around the world, and they publish dozens of books on test prep
  • Kaplan offers several different plans for ACT prep, including pre-recorded video courses, live group courses, and individual tutoring
  • SAT prep with a live instructor (not just pre-recorded videos) starts at $549
  • Kaplan’s group classes are much larger than those of competitors, with up to 30 students per class — and Kaplan tends to cancel classes if not enough students sign up
  • Instructors are less-qualified than many competitors, and they’re assigned by Kaplan with no option to choose a specific class instructor or tutor
  • Kaplan is known for having unresponsive customer service, with clients reporting waiting hours on hold or sending emails and messages that go unanswered
student doing test prep on laptop

Not sure what kind of tutoring is the right fit? Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


Kaplan Review: SAT Prep Options & Pricing

Kaplan has three main options for SAT prep:

  • Kaplan On Demand ACT course, $119 — pre-recorded video lessons and practice questions, but no contact with an instructor
  • Kaplan Live Online ACT course, $549 — live group classes and practice
  • Kaplan Live Online Plus ACT course, $749 — same as the Live Online course, plus 3 hours of individual tutoring
  • Kaplan Unlimited Prep course, $1999 — access to course materials until December of senior year, and access includes other tests as well (PSAT, SAT, and select APs)
  • Kaplan ACT Tutoring, $749 for 5 hours, $1399 for 10 tutoring hours, $2599 for 20 tutoring hours, $3599 for 30 tutoring hours, or $4399 for 40 tutoring hours ($110–150/hour) — one-on-one tutoring

These prices are high given the instructors’ lack of credentials (more on that below). 

Kaplan’s ACT prep courses are twice as expensive as the similar offerings from Magoosh ($399). They’re a similar price to the prep courses offered by Princeton Review ($949) with smaller class sizes.

Kaplan’s tutoring rates makes them more expensive than higher-quality tutoring services with top 1% and Ivy-League tutors — for example, families can consider tutoring with elite Ivy-League tutors at PrepMaven starting at $79/hour, with top scorers at SoFlo ($60–90/hour), or with graduate students from the Tutoring Service of New York ($112–160/hour).

Is the On Demand course worth the $119? Possibly. Practice ACT tests are available for free directly from the makers of the test, but students who can self-study but who want a bit more review might be interested in the 7 hours of short video lectures from Kaplan. We’d also point out that Khan Academy’s online SAT prep, while developed for the other test, is still quite useful for the ACT and absolutely free of cost. However, students who want more in-depth or customized ACT prep should consider other options.

Rating: 6/10

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Kaplan Review: On Demand ACT course

Kaplan’s least expensive course is their On Demand ACT course for $119. Of course, “on demand” is another way of referring to pre-recorded video lessons.

This type of self-directed course is best for students who are capable of managing their own schedules and tracking progress without the assistance of an instructor.

Each of the video lessons is short, never more than 10–12 minutes long. These videos are slickly produced, though students may find them a little cheesy. Each video explanation is followed by 6–7 practice questions and then a short quiz with 4–5 questions. This is Kaplan’s “Learn It, Drill It, Prove it” system.

One of the best parts of the course is the video explanation that accompanies each of the quiz questions. These are definitely helpful content, but as there are only a handful of questions per concept it’s more limited than we’d like.

In addition to this program, students enrolled in Kaplan’s On Demand SAT course also have access to Kaplan’s “Qbank,” or question bank. This is a library of multiple-choice questions that mimic the kind you’ll see on the ACT.

While additional practice questions are helpful, we find that they’re less effective for raising your SAT score than working with real questions from actual past ACT tests. That’s because while Kaplan’s authors will try to mimic the test, they’re always going to have slight differences in style compared to the real ACT.

student studying with laptop

Finally, students have access to 5 full practice tests. We found Kaplan’s advertising here to be quite disingenuous, because these practice tests are available directly from the makers of the ACT. One practice test is available for free online, and students can purchase the Official ACT Prep Guide book (about $30) for a set of 6 practice tests. It’s true that practice tests are great study resources, but there’s no need to pay Kaplan for access to practice tests.

One significant downside of Kaplan’s On Demand ACT prep course is that it’s only available for 6 months. After that, there’s no way to extend access to the test materials. Given that most students take the ACT more than once, and it can be ideal to take the ACT for the first time early on to reduce time pressure, 6 months is not enough time for many students.

In the end, Kaplan’s On Demand ACT course is a perfectly fine way to brush up on concepts covered by the ACT and do some practice. Is it worth the $119 price tag, though? Maybe.

If students need more help than offered by these resources, then it’s likely that a live course with access to an instructor or one-on-one tutoring will be more effective.

That’s also true for high-scoring students who are chasing that amazing score that will help get them into the Ivy League/Stanford/MIT/etc. Typically the best fit for high-scoring students is private tutoring with a top 1% instructor.

Rating: 7/10

Looking for the best ACT prep resources? Schedule a free test prep consultation


Kaplan Review: Live Online ACT courses

Kaplan’s Live Online ACT course

Kaplan’s Live Online ACT course is their flagship offering for ACT prep. The course includes 9 sessions of 2 hours each for $549.

The course was developed in partnership with the creators of the actual ACT. This is great, because the best way to prepare for the test is to use real test questions from past tests. However, these materials are also available for free directly from the ACT, so there’s no need to necessarily go through Kaplan to access them.

One good feature of Kaplan’s ACT course is that students can sign up for the class times that work for them, and can easily switch time slots. This is great for students with busy and ever-changing schedules.
That said, Kaplan is notorious for canceling classes to protect their profit margins if not enough students are signed up for them.

“Canceled our ACT class twice causing us to have to push back our test date. Could not offer a viable alternative class and refused to refund the full fee. Horrible business practices and totally unreliable!”

Another common complaint from clients is that Kaplan’s ACT prep has a fairly rigid structure and isn’t customized to the needs of each individual student. Many students have commented that the classes moved too quickly for them:

“I just feel so stupid for falling for the Kaplan sales pitch. I was desperate to help my kid but it is ultimately my fault for being taken in by their hype. Now I am out 500 bucks and Kaplan refuses to do anything but blame my daughter for failing their **** program. I told them the program did not work. I bought the Bootcamp program. It was too fast and my kid could not follow along. No one helped her, no one checked in, no one cared. She just felt like she wasn't smart enough to get it. The whole experience was awful from start to finish.”

frustrated student

In addition to the course, students receive access to the pre-recorded video explanations and quizzes from the On Demand course. They also get several hard-copy books. As we’ve mentioned, these practice materials are fine, but they’re not the best out there for ACT practice.

One interesting feature of Kaplan’s Live Online course is that for each class there is a second instructor present in the online chat, available to answer questions without disrupting the flow of the class. 

However, this feature is likely necessary because Kaplan’s class sizes are quite large, up to 30 students at a time! These classes are much larger than those offered by competitors. Such a large class size makes it hard for students to receive individual attention. 

While the chat function is great, it might be better to have a smaller class where students are able to ask the instructor questions directly during the lesson, and not written separately. In general, we found Kaplan’s ACT prep classes to be less adaptive to the needs of the individual students.

Who teaches these classes? Kaplan does not require any specific qualifications for its ACT instructors and tutors — instructors are not required to be top scorers on the test themselves or have graduated from a top-tier university.

We’ve heard that Kaplan hires instructors who score in the 90th percentile and above on the ACT, although they don’t publish this cutoff, so it may not be a strict requirement. This means that instructors are above-average, but they’re not necessarily at the top. 

A 90th-percentile score is about a 29 on the ACT (out of 36). This is a strong score, but it’s not nearly high enough to be competitive for an Ivy-League school, where the average score is between 33 and 35 for the composite ACT. In fact, a 29 isn’t good enough to be competitive at almost all of the top schools.

In contrast, several other ACT prep providers hire only top 1% scorers (in the 99th percentile), which means scoring a 35 or 36 on the ACT. Students might consider PrepMaven (Ivy League and top 1%), Magoosh (top 1%), or Prep Expert (top 1%).

Finally, it’s important to note that like Kaplan’s On Demand course, all of these materials are only available for 6 months, and the only way to extend this is to purchase the Unlimited Prep option for $1999. This is not enough time for many students, especially considering that most students take the ACT more than once.

Rating: 4/10

Kaplan’s Live Online Plus ACT course

Kaplan also offers a Live Online Plus option for $749. This is identical to the Live Online course, but with the addition of 3 hours of one-on-one tutoring. That comes out to $100/hour for the tutoring portion, which is a discount on the price of their tutoring if purchased separately.

We like that this option allows students to get some additional help with a few specific problem areas.

However, as we discuss below, we wish that Kaplan’s tutors had stronger credentials for teaching the ACT.

Rating: 5/10

student working on online SAT prep

Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course

Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course ($1999) is its most deluxe option. For an additional $400, families can add 6 hours of individual tutoring.

If students find the large group classes to be a good fit for their learning style and want more of the same, it might be a good fit — it’s the same as the basic Live Online class, but it allows students to access the classes and practice questions until December of their senior year, rather than only 6 months. Many students report that the 6-month cutoff for the Live Online or Live Online Plus courses isn't enough time, and this option remedies that, albeit for a hefty price increase. 

The other difference with the Unlimited Prep course is that students also get access to live group classes for the SAT, PSAT (though this prep is nearly identical to the SAT), and a handful of common AP tests:

  • AP Biology Review Course
  • AP Calculus AB Review Course
  • AP English Language and Composition Review Course
  • AP English Literature Review Course
  • AP Human Geography Review Course
  • AP Psychology Review Course
  • AP US History Review Course
  • AP World History (Modern) Review Course

(Note that other AP courses like AP Physics, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Spanish, AP Political Science, and AP European History are not included.)

Each of the AP review classes have 8 2-hour classes that review important concepts for the tests. They don’t come anywhere close to teaching the entire AP subject, but they could be a good review before the test in May.

The catch? Unfortunately, Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course expires in December of the student’s senior year. That means that students do not have access to the materials in the spring of their senior year, when many students are taking AP tests for potential college credit.

Is Kaplan’s Unlimited Prep course worth the $1999 price tag? It depends. For a student who is taking several of the 8 AP subjects covered by Kaplan as a sophomore or junior, and who plans to take both the ACT and the SAT, and who likes the large class format, sure.

However, as we’ve seen, the instructors for Kaplan have significantly fewer credentials than those from other top test prep companies like PrepMaven (Ivy League and top 1%), Magoosh (top 1%), or Prep Expert (top 1%). The quality of the teacher is the single most important component of the educational experience, and Kaplan does not have the best teachers.

In addition, families should note that tech problems with Kaplan’s online course platform and unresponsive customer service have impacted the overall learning experience.

Rating: 6/10

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Kaplan Review: ACT Tutoring

In addition to their large group classes, Kaplan also offers one-on-one ACT tutoring.

Individual tutoring might be an especially good fit for students who need more than a quick review of core concepts. This has been especially true after Covid, as there has been an unprecedented drop in student’s math and reading skills due to interruptions in schooling.

Individual tutoring is also a great idea for students who are pursuing very high scores (in the 30s for the ACT), and who might feel bored in a general class aimed at the average student. High-achieving students should make sure that they’re working with a tutor who got a top score on the ACT themself. 

That said, one-on-one tutoring can be a good fit for any student! Individual tutoring sessions tend to be more impactful in a shorter period of time, since they can hone in on the specific weaknesses of that student, so they’re great for busy students who want to make the most of their ACT study time. 

An experienced tutor can also make sure to create individualized homework assignments that target the areas the student needs to strengthen to improve their ACT scores.

Is Kaplan a good choice for ACT tutoring?

We found it to be significantly overpriced compared to other options.

student studying with laptop

Kaplan offers five tutoring packages of different sizes. Their minimum purchase comes out to $150/hour for tutoring, which is a very steep price — especially considering that their tutors have no required qualifications like high scores themselves or degrees from top schools!

Their hourly rate does decrease if one purchases a large tutoring package ($4399 for 40 tutoring hours), but it’s still on the higher side.

Is this higher price tied to higher quality?

Unfortunately not. As with Kaplan’s group class instructors, Kaplan does not require any specific qualifications for their ACT tutors — instructors are not required to be top scorers on the ACT themselves or have graduated from a top-tier university.

The ACT instructors highlighted by Kaplan on their website are graduates of Indiana University South Bend (ranked #119 in Regional Midwestern Universities), Case Western Reserve University (ranked #44 in national universities), and University of Kentucky (ranked #137 in national universities). These are fine schools, but they’re not in the same category as highly-competitive Ivies+ and top-tier liberal arts colleges.

We’ve heard that Kaplan hires tutors who score in the 90th percentile and above on the ACT (although given that they don’t publish this cutoff, it may not be a strict requirement). This means that while instructors are above-average, they’re not top-tier. A 90th-percentile score equates to a 29 on the ACT (out of 36). The average score is at the Ivy League is between 33 and 35 for the composite ACT, so a 29 is too low. In fact, a 29 isn’t a competitive score for any of the top-tier schools in the US.

Duke University
Duke University

In contrast, several other ACT prep providers hire only top 1% scorers (in the 99th percentile), which means scoring a 35 or 36 on the ACT. (This is definitely a competitive score for the Ivy League and any other top school.) Students might consider PrepMaven (Ivy League and top 1%), Magoosh (top 1%), or Prep Expert (top 1%).

Rating: 5/10

Learn more about one-on-one SAT tutoring with an Ivy-League and top 1% tutor


Kaplan Review: Online Platform

The experience and abilities of the tutor or instructor are without doubt the single most important factors in the overall quality of the educational experience for a live class or tutoring, but for online classes and tutoring the platform itself also has an impact.

The Kaplan online platform visually is pretty nice. Students have a home dashboard from which they can navigate to individual study units and practice tests. While other test prep platforms might have an individualized learning plan, Kaplan’s courses are more rigid and are not customized to meet the particular strengths and weaknesses of individual students.

Many clients have reported technical problems with the platform, which are compounded by difficulty reaching customer service:

“They are very glitchy, and they barely have customer service. There have been days that I just spent trying to figure out their site, and I have had to cancel plans because of it.”

“The website was a jumbled mess — the website is constantly broken and will make you want to rip your hair off. Disappointingly, a lot of the course is just telling you what you already know if you are actually prepping for the standardized tests. Also, some of their methods don't even work or are just inefficient. Sorry to say, but mom and dad just wasted a **** ton of money. Save yourself your time and frustration and go somewhere else.”

“Adaptive QBank was not functioning for 2 weeks. I called and emailed several times and received responses that were unhelpful at best and rude at worst.”

frustrated client

“I’ve just stopped using the app all together and I tell people I do not recommend Kaplan for this reason. I have an ongoing tech issue with the app where it doesn’t load because of a test I generated, the result is an app that just gives me the spinning wheel of death nonstop, non resolving. I’ve done everything to try and resolve the problem, even offloading the app and reinstalling. Nothing works.”

“I thought this would be a helpful test prep experience... boy was I WRONG. Their website is a disaster and removes sections randomly so you cannot access them. Their website also deletes work consistently despite troubleshooting from customer service. Now on to customer service... Everyone I spoke to gave me an attitude despite issues being with their system. It sounds as if these customer service reps have never met a kind person in their life. I would run like the wind from Kaplan test prep!”

Overall, it seems that Kaplan’s online learning platform leaves room for improvement.

Rating: 5/10


Kaplan Review: Customer Service

When speaking with families, the most common critique of Kaplan’s educational services was actually about their lackluster customer support.

Many clients reported that it was impossible to reach Kaplan’s customer support or technical support. Emails and messages went unanswered, and phone lines required wait times of several hours.

“Waited on hold with customer service for 4 hours on two different occasions!! Can't get an actual HUMAN to help with my courses. So frustrated and will never be using this company again. Will also tell EVERYONE not to ever use them especially if you need assistance from their customer service. Don't use this company! Not worth it!”

“HORRIBLE! The course itself was fine but the lack of customer service is disgusting. If you ever need help, plan on not receiving it — no matter how urgent. No one answers the phones, the live chat doesn't work, and emails go unanswered for weeks. I wanted to renew my subscription but decided to go with another test prep service who actually cares about helping their customers.”

“I didn't like their customer support. I bought the wrong package and tried to change for what I needed and they just told me I couldn't even though I was willing to pay the difference. For me it ended up being a waste of money.”

student frustrated with laptop

“No response to support emails. I've reached out via email, chat, social media, and had no response whatsoever.”

“POOOOOOR customer support. Expensive, system does not work easily and tech support does not answer. Phone number does not understand simple words, it’s an automated service. It is a piece of junk.”

“The study material and courses were good. I have not taken the test but I am confident I will do okay. My issue is with their customer service department. At the end of every class, they always mention their email address and encourage you to reach out if you have any questions. Well I have reached out twice, and I have also messaged them directly through their online portal. I have gotten zero responses.”

Kaplan does offer its students a higher score guarantee for any of its live ACT courses. There are a lot of rules for this guarantee, and they’re known for avoiding it on technicalities, so make sure you read all of the fine print.

Note that this higher score guarantee means only a score that is higher than the previous ACT score, even if only by one point. If you score a 21 the first time, spend six months studying, and then score a 22, you cannot make a claim on the guarantee. Many other ACT prep services offer stronger point increase guarantees.

Rating: 4/10


Kaplan Review: Final Verdict

Kaplan is one of the giants of the test prep industry, and so their ACT prep products, courses, and tutoring are well-known.

However, we found that they were overall overpriced and of lower quality than other options. As one client said,

“This is a large corporation chiefly concerned with profit. It can meaningfully improve your score yes, but you are far better off buying prep books and paying a private tutor. Don't buy into a system that rips off students, instructors, and publishers.”

Their online learning platform has been reported to have tech problems, and their customer service is very hard to reach.

Their instructors and tutors do not have specific credentials, whereas other companies can boast top 1% or Ivy-League instructors.

Some of their online materials might be helpful to students studying for the ACT, but they’re not as good as real ACT questions, which are available for free or very low cost elsewhere.

Ultimately, any amount of practice will help students prepare for the ACT, but there are many other options that will teach students more effectively, at better prices. 

For families on a budget, we cannot recommend enough Khan Academy’s free SAT materials created in partnership with the College Board, creators of the SAT. While the SAT and the ACT are obviously different tests, there’s a lot of overlap (the main difference is that the ACT has more advanced math), and working through these high-quality free materials is a great place to start. Magoosh’s ACT prep course is pretty good value, too.

Harvard University
Stanford University

If students and families are looking for a more hands-on tutoring company with carefully selected Ivy-League tutors with prior teaching experience and specific training, we recommend working with a more selective tutoring service like PrepMaven ($66–349/hour) or Elite Ivy Tutors ($200–300/hour), where all of the tutors are from the Ivy-League with impressive backgrounds, and where the quality of instruction is consistently very high. 

Overall Rating: 5/10

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


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Varsity Tutors Review

These days Varsity Tutors operates the largest platform for online tutoring in the US.

Considering using Varsity Tutors for tutoring or live online classes? Read our in-depth review first.

We did the hard work of interviewing students, families, and instructors with Varsity Tutors to get the inside scoop about their services. We backed that up with hours of research to answer all of your questions about Varsity Tutors.

Not sure how to select an online tutoring service?

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


Varsity Tutors Review: Fast Facts

  • The average cost of each tutoring session with Varsity Tutors is $146–190, or $73–95/hour.
  • The minimum purchase in order to schedule tutoring is typically $1,140 — or else $1794 for a 6-month contract for their monthly subscription.
  • One-on-one tutoring is available for a wide range of subjects and for all ages (K-8 students, high school students, college students, and adults).
  • It takes on average 2–4 days to be matched with a tutor and start sessions.
  • On-demand video courses and live group classes are also available for many subjects.
  • Instructors with Varsity Tutors do not have any specific credentials or training, despite marketing claims.
  • The quality of tutoring is hit-or-miss and definitely overpriced compared to alternatives.

Not sure what kind of tutoring is the right fit? Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


Varsity Tutors Review: Range of Services

Based in St. Louis, Varsity Tutors has grown rapidly in recent years to become the largest online tutoring platform in the US. They offer a variety of services including:

  • Individual tutoring for academic subject areas (Math, English, Physics, History, etc.)
  • Individual tutoring for test prep (SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT, etc.)
  • Live group bootcamp classes for test prep (SAT, ACT)
  • Live group classes and workshops in enrichment subjects
  • On-demand videos for academic and enrichment subjects

Most of their tutoring is focused on core skills in reading, writing, math, and test prep for the SAT and ACT. In recent years, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic, they’ve expanded to offer more classes in “enrichment subjects” like how to draw animals, use Microsoft Excel, or perform magic tricks.

These educational services are offered for a wide age range:

  • Kindergarten through 8th grade
  • High school
  • College
  • Adult

Varsity Tutors now offers “Learning Membership Plans” that combine live group classes with limited hours of individual tutoring for a recurring monthly fee.

Rating: 9/10


Varsity Tutors Review: Price

One common complaint about Varsity Tutors is that they’re not transparent with their pricing. For the most part, their rates are not posted online, and can only be ascertained by scheduling a call with one of their sales reps, where they’re notoriously pushy.

However, we’ve done some research to discover important information about their pricing. Here’s what we found:

The cost of one-on-one tutoring with Varsity Tutors ranges from $73 to $95 per hour, depending on which package clients purchase:

  • $1,140 for 12 tutoring hours ($95/hour)
  • $1,920 for 24 tutoring hours ($80/hour)
  • $2,700 for 36 tutoring hours ($75/hour)
  • $3,504 for 48 tutoring hours ($73/hour)

Note that the minimum purchase for individual tutoring is a package of $1,140 for 6 sessions (12 tutoring hours).

Varsity Tutors’ Learning Membership plans combine unlimited group enrichment classes with 4 hours of tutoring per month. The cost for Learning Membership plans are as follows:

  • $1,794 for 6 months ($299/month)
  • $3,228 for 12 months ($269/month)

Varsity Tutors also offers group test prep bootcamps for SAT and ACT prep in three different time frames: as a one-week bootcamp, spread out over four weeks, or spread out over eight weeks. These group classes do not include any full practice tests or additional support  for students outside of class time. Regardless of the time frame, the cost for each test prep bootcamp is the same:

  • $525 for 16 hours of group class

These prices are very high given the quality of the tutoring and classes (more on that below). 

student frustrated with laptop

Varsity Tutors' rates put them in the same range as higher-end tutoring services with Ivy-League tutors and instructors with graduate degrees or years of experience — for example, families can consider tutoring with elite Ivy-League tutors at PrepMaven starting at $66/hour, with top scorers at SoFlo ($60–90/hour), or with graduate students from the Tutoring Service of New York ($112–160/hour).

However, the actual quality of their services is more in line with competitors like Pearson ($38–42/hour), Skooli ($39–49/hour), and Learner ($40+/hour).

It’s also possible to find some good individual tutors on the marketplace Wyzant in the $50–90/hour range, and budget-friendly tutors with rates from around $20/hour.

In this context, Varsity Tutors is glaringly overpriced.

Rating: 3/10


Varsity Tutors Review: Tutor Qualifications

Probably the single most important aspect in determining the outcome of tutoring is the individual tutor.

These days, there are many online tutoring platforms. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that tutor qualifications vary hugely

On some platforms, tutors could be recent graduates of high school, while other platforms might offer tutors with Master’s or PhDs. Some tutors might have degrees from local colleges, while other tutors might have Ivy-League experience and degrees from Harvard or Princeton. And some platforms might hire tutors after a short questionnaire and let them start teaching immediately, while others might have a competitive interview process and rigorous tutor training.

In the end, it comes down to this question: who do you want teaching your student?

teacher with whiteboard

With Varsity Tutors, all tutors have at least a high school diploma, and most have a college degree. A small handful of tutors might have Ivy-League degrees (these are the ones the company tends to feature for marketing), but most tutors studied at local or less-competitive schools. 

Since clients cannot choose which tutor they work with, it’s up to luck what credentials the selected tutor will have.

All tutors with Varsity Tutors have passed a background check. This is not mandatory for tutors on Wyzant, but it’s possible to see on each tutor’s profile whether they’re taken a background check. 

Tutors with Varsity Tutors become “certified” in individual subject areas. However, this is a bit misleading, as in most cases certification requires simply passing a 10-question online quiz.

Past teaching experience is not required for tutors with Varsity Tutors.

Aspiring tutors can join the Varsity Tutors team within just a few days, and there is no training for tutors with Varsity Tutors. Tutors are also not provided with any curriculum or teaching materials and must create their own. This means that the quality of teaching is very uneven.

Despite implications in their marketing that clients can select individual tutors, Varsity Tutors does not allow families to select the tutor.

Instead, their headquarters has complete control over matching students with tutors. Families and students answer a questionnaire about the student’s learning goals, personality, and schedule. Then Varsity Tutor’s central team sends this student profile out to all tutors for that subject area. Tutors can then respond to indicate interest, and from this pool of tutors Varsity will select the best match.

teacher with whiteboard

Some families get lucky and are paired with a great tutor who knows the subject material and works well with the student’s personality and learning style.

Some families are less lucky and are stuck with tutors who are woefully underprepared or even unprofessional. It’s a bit of a gamble!

Some comments from clients:

“They sell you their service as if it was perfect until they get your money. They entice you to sign up for 2 years, 1 year, several months or 1 month, to get your money. Then you get stuck with mediocrity. They promise high quality tutors and they certainly don’t deliver.”

“A serious lack of professionalism in the tutors working here. If you are okay with only a 40% chance of receiving a competent tutor, that's on you.”

“They have not been able to assign me a good qualified tutor. Most of the tutors they have are college students while with the amount they charge, I had expected to have a qualified and experienced tutor.”

“My tutor could not help me with my homework at all; he knew as little about how to solve my math problem as I did. I have never been more upset or disappointed.”

“I was with the company for two months, and they never found me an adequate tutor.”

“The tutor Varsity provided to my daughter was woefully under-qualified. Despite the fact that I spent half an hour outlining my daughter's class course requirements and even specific areas within that class, they still sent someone who barely knew the materials. As a result, my daughter wasted 1.5 hours learning nothing.”

Based on our research, it seems that it’s harder to get a qualified tutor when looking for help with more advanced subject material, especially math and physics.

When you learn more about Varsity Tutors’ business model, this is less surprising.

That’s because Varsity Tutors pays their instructors only about 15% of the cost of the lesson. The tutors that clients might pay $95/hour to learn from will earn only $11–15/hour, depending on the subject. That’s lower than driving for Uber.

That low pay rate makes it difficult for Varsity Tutors to attract and retain good teaching talent. Tutors who are excellent teachers or who come from elite universities will prefer to work for other educational services that pay more fairly.

student working on laptop

Families who are specifically looking to work with an Ivy-League or highly-credentialed tutor might consider a more selective tutoring service like PrepMaven ($66–349/hour) or Elite Ivy Tutors ($200–300/hour), which hire only the best Ivy-League tutors with extensive teaching experience and impressive credentials.

Rating: 4/10

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Varsity Tutors Review: Other Aspects of Educational Quality

The experience and abilities of the tutor or instructor are without doubt the single most important factors in the overall quality of the educational experience, but there are other aspects to consider, as well.

Timing

It’s not possible to choose your specific tutor with Varsity Tutors. Instead, for one-on-one tutoring, clients fill out a short questionnaire about preferences and then are paired with the best available tutor. Typically it takes several days to go through this process and connect with the tutor to schedule the first sessions, even though they may promise a tutor match sooner:

“I looked for a subject and was effusively ensured that a tutor will be found in 24 to 48 hours — and I needed one indeed! After buying a particular package, here I am, 48 hours later, with no help.”

“I contacted Varsity Tutors to help me pass a math class. They want $630 for 9 hours which works out to $70/hour and it would take one whole week to connect with your tutor they assign you. You don't even get to choose.”

However, Varsity Tutors also has an option for “instant tutoring” that can be started in as little as seconds. Of course, with this option students don’t work with a consistent tutor, so it’s less effective for learning, but can be helpful if students need a little specific help ASAP. The tutors available on “instant tutoring” are also less likely to be qualified in the specific subject area:

“I will spend 2 hours trying to find a tutor through instant tutoring and when I finally find one they don't know how to do any of the problems. I have met with two different tutors in person and they were both incompetent.”

The minimum lesson length is one hour, and many subjects (like SAT and ACT prep) are only available in two-hour tutoring sessions. This works for many students, but might be tough for the youngest students or those with busy schedules who are trying to squeeze in shorter lessons:

“Overall the tutors have been amazing. The only thing I would change is offering tutoring options for less than an hour per week. At my son’s age, an hour is really pushing his attention span. Also, it seems like the matching process doesn’t really take the availability I entered into account so the times that the tutor and I are able to set aren’t that convenient for my schedule.”

With Varsity Tutors there is a standard requirement for at least 24 hours’ notice in order to cancel a scheduled session. Sessions canceled with less than 24 hours’ notice will still be charged.

student in online classroom

Group classes

Like their one-on-one tutoring, their group classes vary quite a bit in quality as well. 

We like how the class sizes for “small group” classes are indeed small, with 6–9 students.

However, clients have noted that many of the “large group” classes they offer consist primarily of videos, with very little live teaching or interaction with the instructor. 

“Our son also noticed the quality of classes got worse over the course of the year. Some of the classes being “taught” were 90% watching videos. He also wasn’t impressed with the knowledge of a decent amount of the teachers.”

Question banks

Varsity Tutors has created some impressively large question banks for various subjects like “angle geometry” or “comma errors.”

The quality of these questions, however, varies quite a bit. In particular, the question banks for concepts covered by standardized tests like the SAT or ACT are not accurate representations of the types of questions or question styles that actually appear on the exams. Many are too easy, too hard, the wrong format, or simply material that does not appear on the tests. For that reason, we recommend caution when using these question banks to study and practice.

pencil shavings

Curricula and other educational materials

Varsity Tutors does not provide curricula or lesson plans for individual tutoring sessions — it’s up to the individual tutors to create any lesson materials and make an educational plan for their students. Some tutors do this well, but other tutors don’t do any planning! As with many other aspects of Varsity Tutors, this makes the educational quality quite inconsistent.

In our opinion, the lack of consistency in lesson planning is antithetical to the point of working with a large company rather than hiring an individual freelance tutor.

They do not monitor the sessions, no matter what they tell you, they don't. The tutors are unorganized and basically are just there to make a buck. They set no goals for the students, they do no prep for the sessions and do not give the students any work outside of the sessions themselves to further the goal of good scores. They waste the session time doing two or three problems and that's it. No test tips. No looking at past scores or breakdown of prior tests. Just stay away.”

Clients have commented that the content of the large group classes varies quite a bit as well.

Rating: 6/10


Varsity Tutors Review: Online Platform

Varsity Tutors used to offer up to half of their tutoring sessions in-person, but these days they’ve transitioned to primarily online.

Varsity Tutors’ online platform is one place where they shine. They’ve built a custom online classroom that allows tutors and students to collaborate on the same whiteboard in a way that’s slightly more flexible than the whiteboard on Zoom. 

(On Varsity Tutors’ platform, it’s possible to paste multiple images onto the same whiteboard and then draw everywhere, and both students and tutors can easily toggle between multiple “pages” of the whiteboard.)

Of course, sometimes there can be tech problems with the online classroom, but during US business hours there’s a tech support line available to help troubleshoot problems. Overall, we found their platform to be less buggy than some of the competition that relies on old web platforms (like Pearson or Princeton Review/Tutor.com). 

The rest of their online experience is modern and clean, as well.

Rating: 9/10


Varsity Tutors Review: Customer Service

On the whole, customer service with Varsity Tutors seems to be stronger than the quality of their instructors. Many clients found their customer service team to be helpful in addressing questions, although not always:

“Once a tutor is identified, your service drops off to zero and I question what your service provides except for a tech platform and a lottery match with potential tutors.”

They offer a “Tutor Satisfaction Guarantee”: if you’re not satisfied with your tutor via Varsity Tutors, they’ll pair you with a new tutor and give you a free tutoring session (up to two hours of tutoring). 

One recurring theme with past clients, however, is frustration that it’s not possible to get your money back.

So while you can request to try a new tutor, there’s no way to back out of the rest of your tutoring package — and with a minimum package of $1,140 for 12 hours of tutoring, that’s some serious commitment!

student working with online tutoring

Similarly, families who purchased the monthly subscription plan for 6 months or 1 year have commented that it was impossible to cancel the subscription, and that they had to contact their credit card companies to block the recurring charge.

“This is a scam. They will sign you up for 1 year of service for $270/month, with no cancellation. Deceptive language.”

“They make you pay a lot of money for mediocre tutors. They take your money and miss-sell the subscription and they won't agree to cancel it.”

Depending on the agreed contract, the tutoring hours purchased can either be used indefinitely or they can have an expiration date. Many past clients expressed frustration that the hours they had paid for expired — and that Varsity Tutors did not warn them before this happened.

“Our experience with the tutors was not a good match, and then the hours that you pay for can expire, so you are not able to reserve them until more help is needed. We wound up paying a lot of money for nothing.”

“Don't use Varsity Tutors. Only have a certain amount of time where you can use the hours you've spent money on... Do not tell you until your time is almost up.”

Finally, Varsity Tutors is well-known for aggressive sales tactics and frequent sales calls:

“Our tutor is great, and gives my child lots of fun while learning! Communication with Varsity is not so great, though. I get calls from them trying to sell me more tutoring, but NOT when they are planning to "expire" my sessions — even when we are actively using and scheduling them.”

“Deducted a star due to the multiple calls I received when we ran out of hours at the end of the school year.”

Rating: 7/10


Varsity Tutors Review: Final Verdict

Overall, Varsity Tutors is disappointing. 

While Varsity Tutors markets themselves as a “high-end” tutoring platform, we’re ultimately not convinced. Only a handful of their thousands of tutors have Ivy-League degrees or substantial teaching experience — most of their tutors don’t come from top-tier universities and don’t have relevant professional experience. There’s no curricula or lesson materials and little oversight of sessions from the company, and the educational quality does not live up to our expectations.

Some individual tutors with the platform are great, but as students and families can’t choose the tutor, there is a significant element of luck. Their “instant tutoring” option is very convenient, but again, the effectiveness of the tutor varies.

Their custom online platform is great, and their customer service is often helpful. However, many clients feel frustrated with the inability to request a refund for unused tutoring sessions or cancel their monthly subscription.

Princeton University
Princeton University

If students and families are looking for a more hands-on tutoring company with carefully selected Ivy-League tutors with prior teaching experience and specific training, we recommend working with a more selective tutoring service like PrepMaven ($66–349/hour) or Elite Ivy Tutors ($200–300/hour), where all of the tutors are from the Ivy-League with impressive backgrounds, and where the quality of instruction is consistently very high. 

Overall Rating: 5/10

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