competition

Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Which Tutoring Service is Better?

In this Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors face-off, we pit two of the biggest tutoring companies against each other to see which is the best. From tutor qualifications to price, subjects, guarantees, and other features, discover which is the best tutoring platform.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors Overview

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Company type Tutoring marketplace Tutoring service
Cost of tutoring $10–600/hr, average $35–65/hr $73–95/hr
Minimum purchase $10 $1,140
Tutor earnings 75% of hourly rate, average $26–48/hr $11–15/hr
Tutor qualifications Varies: background check not required but visible on tutor profiles, education varies Varies: background check required, minimum education high school graduates
Tutor match Client chooses; can filter results by cost, ratings, etc. Tutor matched by company based on questionnaire
Time to start tutoring Varies, but can be same day Typically 2–4 days, but “instant tutoring” also available
Online platform Proprietary platform Proprietary platform
Subjects tutored Over 3000 subjects 275 subjects 
Guarantee "Good Fit Guarantee" — if you’re not satisfied with your first lesson with a tutor, that session is free "Tutor Satisfaction Guarantee" —  if you're unsatisfied with the tutor you're working with, you can contact Varsity Tutors, explain the situation and get matched with a new tutor; the next session will be free
Lesson cancellation Varies, 6–36 hours notice 24 hours notice

Not sure what kind of tutoring is the right fit?

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Company Type

Wyzant and Varsity Tutors are two of the biggest tutoring companies, both with thousands of tutors.

One of the most significant differences between Wyzant and Varsity Tutors is that Wyzant is a tutoring marketplace whereas Varsity Tutors is a tutoring service.

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Company type Tutoring marketplace Tutoring service

What do these terms mean?

A tutoring marketplace is a platform where clients can view and select independent tutors — like the modern version of a bulletin board with advertisements posted.

bulletin board

That means that Wyzant facilitates the connection between tutors and students, but it does not directly oversee the tutoring sessions. Wyzant does not take an active role in testing tutor qualifications, pairing students with tutors, scheduling, or quality control for tutoring sessions. They set a minimum price of $10/hour but beyond that, tutors are free to set their own rates.

From the client’s perspective, one advantage of a tutoring marketplace is that all of the tutors on the platform are competing with each other to get the most requests from clients. This can motivate tutors to create the best tutoring experience in order to get good reviews and return customers.

A tutoring service is more hands-on. As a tutoring service, Varsity Tutors has more direct control over the tutoring offered on its platform. Varsity Tutors controls the price of tutoring sessions and matches tutors with students — neither the students nor the tutors have the final say in this matching process.

One advantage of a tutoring service is that in theory it creates a more uniform experience for students. The company headquarters is always available should there be any problems, be it simple tech problems connecting to the online classroom or more significant complaints about a tutor.

Winner: neither, since it really depends on client preference.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Cost of Tutoring

Wyzant and Varsity Tutors are also quite different when it comes to the cost of tutoring.

Because tutors are able to set their own prices on Wyzant, the rates for tutoring vary immensely. The minimum rate allowed by Wyzant is $10 per hour, and although there aren’t many tutors who set their rates quite that low, there are many tutors available from $20 per hour. The majority of tutors on Wyzant set their rate between $35 and $65 per hour. Of course, some highly-rated tutors might set higher rates, especially those teaching advanced subjects or holding impressive credentials, and it’s possible to see tutors with rates as high as $600 per hour.

The advantage is the range of choice: with Wyzant, students and families can choose the right balance between price and tutor qualifications. For families with a tighter budget, this can make Wyzant a great fit, the option to access tutoring at $20 per hour simply doesn’t exist on many other tutoring services.

Another advantage of Wyzant’s model is that prices are immediately transparent to clients.

On the other hand, pricing at Varsity Tutors is more consistent. The cost of 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)

Even though some tutors teaching through Varsity Tutor’s platform might have higher credentials than others, all tutoring sessions for a given subject area are charged the same rate.

Varsity Tutors is well-known for being a little secretive about their prices. Potential clients need to schedule a call with their sales reps in order to get pricing info, which is frustrating to go through if it ends up being outside one’s budget in the end.

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Cost of tutoring $10–600/hr, average $35–65/hr $73–95/hr

Winner: Wyzant. On average, tutoring on Wyzant is lower cost than Varsity Tutors.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Minimum Purchase

Wyzant and Varsity Tutors have opposing approaches to minimum purchases.

On Wyzant, there is no minimum purchase. Families and students can simply pay for one session at a time, so the first payment is just the cost of the first tutoring session, which can be as low as $10.

On Varsity Tutors, clients must purchase packages of at least 12 hours at a time — so the minimum cost is $1,140 for 6 tutoring sessions (12 hours) at $95/hour.

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Cost of tutoring $10–600/hr, average $35–65/hr $73–95/hr
Minimum purchase $10 $1,140

Winner: Wyzant. The minimum purchase means that Wyzant is more flexible and accessible than Varsity Tutors.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Tutor Earnings

As a student or family, why would you care about tutor earnings for Wyzant or Varsity Tutors?

Ultimately, tutoring companies that pay their tutors better are more able to attract the best teaching talent and tutors with the most impressive backgrounds.

Despite the fact that the cost of tutoring with Varsity Tutors ($73–95/hour) is significantly higher than the average cost of tutoring on Wyzant ($35–65/hour), tutors working for Varsity Tutors earn much less.

In fact, the tutors that you’re paying $95/hour to learn from are earning only $11–15/hour, depending on the subject.

On the other hand, tutors on Wyzant earn 75% of their rate. (Wyzant takes 25% as their commission for listing on the platform.) This means that tutors on average earn $26–48 per hour through Wyzant.

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Cost of tutoring $10–600/hr, average $35–65/hr $73–95/hr
Tutor earnings 75% of hourly rate, average $26–48/hr $11–15/hr

The upshot of this for clients is that the best tutors are likely to leave Varsity Tutors eventually and migrate either to marketplace platforms like Wyzant or else more selective tutoring companies like PrepMaven [link], where they can earn a much fairer wage for their high-impact teaching.

Winner: Wyzant. Varsity Tutors pays their tutors only 15% of the lesson cost, while Wyzant allows tutors to keep 75% of the lesson cost — so Wyzant is more likely to have better teaching talent.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: 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

On Wyzant’s tutoring marketplace, tutor qualifications vary considerably but are clearly visible on the profile of each tutor. Some tutors available on Wyzant do have Ivy-League degrees, but these tend to have high rates, often hundreds of dollars per hour. Clients can also clearly see how many years of teaching experience each tutor has, and how many hours they’ve tutored on the Wyzant platform. Clients can choose the tutor that best fits their needs and price range.

There is no additional testing or certification process for subject area tutors listed on Wyzant.

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, 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.

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.

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. 

Past teaching experience is not required for tutors with either Wyzant or Varsity Tutors, but on Wyzant many tutors describe relevant past experience in their bios.

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Tutor qualifications Varies: background check not required but visible on tutor profiles, education varies Varies: background check required, minimum education high school graduates

Winner: Wyzant, as it allows clients to view and select specific tutors, even though tutor quality is very uneven.

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.

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Tutor Match

As explained above, Wyzant is a tutoring marketplace, while Varsity Tutors is a tutoring service.

This means that the way that students are matched with tutors is completely different with Wyzant and Varsity Tutors!

With Wyzant, families and students select the individual tutor that seems like the best fit in terms of qualifications, cost, and availability. Families and students contact the desired tutor through Wyzant’s platform and can message to discuss further details about the match. If both parties agree it’s a good fit, the first lesson can be scheduled immediately.

Wyzant gives clients complete control over the matching process, but it’s also a huge responsibility and can take a lot of time to read through the tutor profiles. It’s possible to filter tutors based on price, ratings, popularity, etc. There are over 65,000 tutors listed on Wyzant’s platform, so it can feel stressful!

With Varsity Tutors, 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.

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Tutor match Client chooses; can filter results by cost, ratings, etc. Tutor matched by company based on questionnaire

Winner: neither — it depends whether you want to do the work of selecting a tutor yourself or have one chosen for you.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Time before Tutoring Starts

In a rush to set up tutoring sessions?

Because with Wyzant tutoring sessions are arranged directly between the tutor and the client, it could be possible to set up tutoring immediately. The average response time for a tutor is listed on their profile, so be aware of this number if you want to start ASAP.

With Varsity Tutors, typically it takes a few days to go through their student questionnaire and be paired with an appropriate tutor.

However, Varsity Tutors also has an option for “instant tutoring” that can be started in as little as seconds. Of course, with this option you don’t work with a consistent tutor, so it’s less effective for learning, but can be helpful if you need a little help ASAP.

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Time to start tutoring Varies, but can be same day Typically 2–4 days, but “instant tutoring” also available

Winner: Wyzant tends to be faster for regular tutoring, but Varsity Tutors offers “instant tutoring” — so it’s a tie.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Online Platform

These days, we’re all accustomed to learning and meeting online via Zoom or other platforms.

Both Wyzant and Varsity Tutors do offer in-person tutoring in locations across the US, but most of the tutoring happens online. Online tutoring has many advantages: it’s convenient, more widely available, and it allows students to work with tutors throughout the country, not just whomever happens to be local.

Both Wyzant and Varsity Tutors have built their own proprietary online tutoring platforms with live whiteboards and video. They’re both quite similar and pretty good!

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Online platform Proprietary platform Proprietary platform

Winner: tie.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Subjects Tutored

Both Wyzant and Varsity Tutors offer an extensive list of subjects. Wyzant lists 275 subjects covered by their tutors, while Varsity Tutors breaks their list into over 3000 subjects.

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Subjects tutored Over 3000 subjects 275 subjects 

Does that mean that Varsity Tutors offers more subjects than Wyzant? We chose a few obscure subjects to test this out:

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Finnish language No Yes
Inorganic chemistry Not a subject category, but many tutors Yes
Aerospace engineering Not a subject category, but many tutors Yes
Chinese history Not a subject category, but many tutors Yes (but tutors did not look qualified)

Based on our tests, it seems that if you are looking for a tutor in a more obscure area, which tutoring platform will depend on the particular subject.

That said, most tutoring on both platforms is focused on basic skills in reading, writing, math, and test prep (SAT, ACT, PSAT, and other important standardized tests). 

Wyzant has tutors with specializations working with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Braille, dyslexia, hard of hearing students, and sign language. Varsity Tutors will also attempt to pair students with particular needs with the tutors who are best able to help.

Winner: tie — if you need tutoring in a more niche subject, check which platform can connect you with individual expert tutors.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Guarantee

If you book a session with a tutor on Wyzant and aren’t satisfied, Wyzant will refund the cost of that session. Since tutoring on Wyzant is pay-as-you-go, that means you’re then free to continue with a different tutor on Wyzant or switch to a different tutoring company entirely.

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). There’s no way to back out of the rest of your tutoring package, however — and with a minimum package of $1,140 for 12 hours of tutoring, that’s some serious commitment!

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Guarantee "Good Fit Guarantee" — if you’re not satisfied with your first lesson with a tutor, that session is free Tutor Satisfaction Guarantee —  if you're unsatisfied with the tutor you're working with, you can contact Varsity Tutors, explain the situation and get matched with a new tutor; the next session will be free

Winner: Wyzant — if you try a first session and you’re not satisfied, you can get all of your money back, but this isn’t possible with Varsity Tutors.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Lesson Cancellation

Both Wyzant and Varsity Tutors have cancellation policies to make sure that tutors aren’t left hanging by students.

With Varsity Tutors there is a standard requirement for at least 24 hours’ notice in order to cancel a scheduled session. (It’s always possible to message your tutor directly and see if you can cancel or change within the 24 hours without charge, but that is at the tutor’s discretion.)

Tutors on Wyzant’s marketplace can set their own notice period for lesson cancellations; these range between 6 and 36 hours

Wyzant Varsity Tutors
Lesson cancellation Varies, 6–36 hours notice 24 hours notice

Winner: tie.


Wyzant vs. Varsity Tutors: Overall Winner

Overall, we prefer Wyzant over Varsity Tutors.

Wyzant’s marketplace platform gives students and families the ability to choose the tutor who is the best fit for their specific needs. Wyzant has a wider range of prices, with budget-friendly tutors teaching for around $20 per hour or tutors with stronger credentials and experience charging rates from $50 to $500 per hour. 

Although it might not seem important, Wyzant’s model for tutor pay is also a key differentiating factor, since Varsity Tutors’ surprisingly low pay for tutors ($11-15/hour when clients pay $73–95/hour) means that their platform can’t attract the best tutors.

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.

Wyzant’s tutoring marketplace does come with some downsides, however. It definitely takes more work to research different tutor bios and select the best fit. There’s no vetting process for the tutors on Wyzant, so the quality of tutoring has a certain element of luck.

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 Ivy-League and have impressive backgrounds. 

Schedule a free consultation with an educational consultant at PrepMaven


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15 Best Online Writing Tutoring Services This Year (50 Services Reviewed)

…and more on our blog!

competition


15 Best Online Writing Tutoring Services for 2022 (50 Tutoring Services Reviewed)

Writing is a core skill that is essential for success in high school and college, as well as many graduate programs and future careers. 

However, many schools don’t teach students how to write effectively. Writing is a highly individual skill and the best way to learn is with one-on-one help. 

When school classes assign essays, most students are left to flounder. The students who are the most successful tend to benefit from writing lessons at home from their parents. But this is challenging and time-consuming—not to mention, many parents might not have honed those writing skills themselves!

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

What is the Best Online Writing Tutoring?

  1. PrepMaven – best online writing tutoring overall
  2. Pearson’s Smarthinking – best big tutoring company for writing tutoring
  3. Skooli – best super-quick tutoring
  4. Wyzant – alternative for families on a budget
  5. Learn to Be – best free writing tutoring (for qualifying families)

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 – writing tutoring that includes ESL learners
  4. Club Z! Tutoring – tutoring franchise with (purported) writing curriculum
  5. Sylvan Learning – tutoring franchise that includes Spanish-speaking staff
  6. Varsity – uneven quality at higher prices
  7. Chegg – lightweight essay review on a membership basis
  8. TutaPoint – creative writing and quick editing but little expertise
  9. Tutoring Service of New York – new service with higher minimum package
  10. Preply – lower-cost tutoring marketplace platform
student writing assignment


Best Online Writing Tutoring in 2022

#1 - PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Best Online Writing Tutoring Overall

Price: $66–349/hour

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

All of PrepMaven’s tutors are Ivy-League grads, mostly from Princeton. (A few tutors are from elite universities that aren’t Ivies, like Stanford or Duke.) Many of PrepMaven's writing tutors have won Ivy-League academic prizes for their written work. Not only do these tutors come from the most prestigious colleges in the US, but many also have professional writing experience. Among PrepMaven’s fantastic writing tutors are professional Hollywood screenwriters, journalists, published authors, and editors for academic presses.

What makes PrepMaven special is that they don’t just offer essay editing and support with school writing assignments — they also provide expert instruction in how to write, which is a foundational skill that will help students succeed throughout their lives. PrepMaven has developed an original writing curriculum through their sought-after Academic Writing Workshop and expanded this for students seeking individualized tutoring.

In addition to support with school writing assignments, PrepMaven can also provide students with educational enrichment outside of their school curriculum — this is especially beneficial for writing, which often isn’t taught effectively in schools. Students can work with PrepMaven tutors to craft research papers, literary analysis essays, or creative writing projects that will teach them essential writing skills.

PrepMaven also offers specific coaching through the college essay writing process and has 15 years of experience helping students to gain acceptance to their dream schools. Read here for more specific information about college application essay help.

Founded by brothers and Princeton grads Greg and Kevin, PrepMaven focuses on delivering consistently high-quality tutoring to students. Because PrepMaven’s tutors hail from the most elite universities, they’re uniquely positioned to coach students towards writing great school essays and papers. 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 writing. At higher rates, students can work with coaches who are both Ivy-League grads and professional writers (screenwriters, journalists, editors), many who also hold advanced graduate degrees.

Best for:

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

At a glance:

  • Cost: $66–349/hour, depending on tutor qualifications; minimum $450 package
  • Writing tutor qualifications: Princeton graduates and professional writers (or current Princeton students); all experienced and highly trained, some with master’s or doctoral degrees

What we like:

  • Experienced Ivy-League tutors — most of their writing tutors are Princeton grads or current students, with some from Harvard and other Ivies, and many tutors have won prestigious academic prizes for their writing
  • Professional writers option to work with professional writers in nonfiction (journalism, published academic authors, academic book editing) or creative writing (screenwriters, playwrights, novelists, poets)
  • Different pricing options to meet different families’ circumstances
  • Smaller, boutique company offers more individualized approach customized for each student

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


#2 - Pearson

Our Verdict — Best Big Tutoring Company for Writing Tutoring

Price: $38–42/hour, or $31–42 for a one-off essay review

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.

For writing assignments, Pearson also offers the chance to request written feedback on an individual draft. This is a great idea, but it’s more limited in reality — writing tutors are allotted only 30 minutes to review each essay, which might work for recommending some small tweaks but isn’t nearly enough time for guiding a student in making substantial improvements. Furthermore, tutors are supposed to do these essay reviews in between tutoring sessions, so unfortunately they’re often rushed and distracted.

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); $31–42 for a one-off essay review, depending on page length
  • Writing 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 writing 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
writing

Why is learning how to write important 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)
  • Writing 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 — including 4,260 online writing 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 professional writing experience. 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
  • Writing 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 4,000 writing 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 4,000+ is one more task for busy families

#5 - Learn to Be

Our Verdict — Best Free Writing 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
  • Writing 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:

  • Volunteer tutor qualifications vary — some tutors are high school students as young as 14 years old
  • Only for qualifying youth in the US (low income or foster youth)
writing assignment online

Read below: how learning how to write well can unlock success for decades to come


Best of the Rest for Online Writing Tutoring

#6 - 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 essay writing. 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

#7 - 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
  • Writing 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

#8 - Learner

Our Verdict — Writing Tutoring that Includes ESL Learners

Price: $40+/hour

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.

Specifically for writing, we like that they will develop a tailor-made writing curriculum for individual students. In their writing tutoring sessions, students can receive lessons on grammar and research paper writing, read examples of good essays, and get help from their tutor with homework assignments. On the whole, Learner seems to have a stronger focus on writing than some of the other tutoring services like Skooli or Varsity Tutors.

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).

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

Their rates are reasonable for “average” tutors who do not have professional writing experience or degrees from elite universities.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $40+/hour
  • Writing tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • More focus on writing tutoring than some competitors
  • Reasonable pricing for online writing tutoring

What we don’t like:

  • No specific tutor qualifications beyond a college degree

#9 - Club Z! Tutoring

Our Verdict — Tutoring Franchise with (Purported) Writing Curriculum

Price: varies by location (franchise)

Club Z! is a tutoring franchise, so pricing and other details vary by location. Tutors with Club Z! do not have any specific qualifications.

We’ve included them on this list because they claim to have developed a writing tutoring program, The Power of Words ©, which helps students write more effectively and efficiently for writing assignments and timed essays.

However, our sources have mentioned that they do not actually provide tutor training or teaching resources, so it’s unclear to what extent this writing tutoring program has actually been implemented.

They offer both online and in-home tutoring.

At a glance:

  • Cost: varies depending on franchise location
  • Writing tutor qualifications: not specified

What we like:

  • (Supposed) writing curriculum, The Power of Words ©

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualifications for tutors — so unclear if tutors are college graduates, come from strong educational backgrounds, or have teaching experience
  • No training or teaching resources for tutors, leading to uneven quality

#10 - Sylvan Learning

Our Verdict — Tutoring Franchise that Includes Spanish-Speaking Staff

Price: varies by location (franchise)

Like Club Z! Tutoring, Sylvan Learning is a franchise, so pricing and other details vary by location.

While previously Sylvan Learning was entirely in-person, they have more recently pivoted to offer online tutoring as well via their “MySylvanMarketplace” platform. Families can find online writing tutoring via this platform.

Tutors with Sylvan Learning do not have any specific credentials like college degrees, elite educational backgrounds, or teaching experience. However, we like that many Sylvan Learning centers do have Spanish-speaking staff, which may be helpful for some families and students.

On the whole, we found their website and platform a bit challenging to navigate, and it was difficult to get answers to our questions. Since each of the Sylvan centers is locally owned and operated, the customer service experience can vary significantly.

At a glance:

  • Cost: varies depending on franchise location
  • Writing tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Some staff at Sylvan Learning centers may speak Spanish

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualifications for tutors — so unclear if tutors are college graduates (let alone come from strong educational backgrounds) or have teaching experience
  • Confusing website and online tutoring platform

#11 - 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, professional writing experience, and Ivy-League backgrounds.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $60–95/hour
  • Writing 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 writing tutoring services
  • Uneven teaching quality due to lack of resources for instruction
  • Overpriced given the lack of required qualifications for tutors

#12 - Chegg

Our Verdict — Lightweight Essay Review on a Membership Basis

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.

We’ve kept Chegg on our list for online writing tutoring because the higher subscription tier, their “Chegg Study Pack,” does include 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.

They also throw in an online tool to scan for plagiarism. Even if you didn’t intend to plagiarize, this tool can check for well-meaning “paraphrasing errors or missing citations.”

However, we don’t think it’s a good way to learn how to write. For the best educational experience, families should look for online writing tutoring services that provide one-on-one video sessions with a consistent tutor each time.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $15 per month for Chegg Study subscription, which provides homework resources only and no essay reviews; $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
  • Writing tutor qualifications: none specified

What we like:

  • Large number of written essay reviews per month, up to 15 short essays

What we don’t like:

  • Asynchronous, written feedback is not an effective way to learn
  • No education or training requirements for tutors, and no information about who the writing reviewers are
  • No option to work with the same writing tutor for each review, so no chance to grow with an individual tutor

#13 - TutaPoint

Our Verdict — Creative Writing and Quick Editing but Little Expertise

Price: $50/hour

Unlike many of the other online writing tutoring services, TutaPoint is one of the few that explicitly includes help learning creative writing. (The other services on our list that can teach creative writing are #1, PrepMaven, where students can even work with Ivy-League professionals in creative writing fields like screenwriting or publishing, and the Tutoring Service of New York.)

In addition to one-on-one tutoring sessions, TutaPoint also offers the option to submit papers for written feedback with a 24-hour turnaround.

Unfortunately, TutaPoint’s website is a little confusing and lacks a lot of important information about their tutoring services.

More significantly, they pay their tutors about a quarter of what they charge clients, and this makes it difficult for them to attract and retain good teaching talent. Tutors at TutaPoint do not have any specific qualifications. They do not necessarily have college degrees or teaching experience.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $50/hour
  • Writing tutor qualifications: none specified

What we like:

  • Creative writing included in their subjects available

What we don’t like:

  • No specified qualifications for tutors, so writing tutors do not necessarily have college degrees or teaching experience
  • Quality of tutors is lower due to low pay for instructors

#14 - Tutoring Service of New York

Our Verdict — New Service with Higher Minimum Package

Price: $130–155/hour

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 literature and writing.

We like that they state that they teach both academic writing and creative writing — only #1 service PrepMaven and TutaPoint explicitly include creative writing.

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
  • Writing tutor qualifications: college graduates, mostly current graduate students at Columbia or NYU

What we like:

  • Qualified tutors with mostly Ivy-League backgrounds
  • Creative writing included along with academic writing

What we don’t like:

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

#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, and currently there are only 45 writing tutors listed on the platform (compared with over 4,000 writing tutors listed on Wyzant).

Among those writing tutors listed, most don’t have high educational backgrounds. We spotted a number of grammar and punctuation mistakes on some of the tutor bios, which doesn’t bode well for their abilities as writing instructors. 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 writing 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
  • Writing 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

student studying for SAT with online tutor

Top 50 Online Writing Tutoring Services Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • Pearson’s Smarthinking
  • Skooli
  • Wyzant
  • Learn To Be – free tutoring for underserved youth in the US
  • Tutor.com/The Princeton Review
  • Learner
  • Club Z! Tutoring
  • Sylvan Learning
  • Varsity Tutors
  • Chegg
  • TutaPoint
  • Preply
  • Kaplan
  • TutorMe
  • StudyPoint
  • Lehman Tutoring Center
  • Spires
  • TeacherOn
  • Business Writing Center
  • UPchieve – free tutoring for underserved youth in the US
  • SpecialEdTutoring.com 
  • GilliamWritersGroup
  • Jamie Haverkampf, MFA
  • Suprex Learning
  • Superprof
  • UniversityTutor.com
  • Huntington Learning Center
  • MathTowne
  • Cluey Learning
  • Galaxy Grades
  • Clever Fox Education
  • Nurturing Wisdom
  • Paper.co
  • Themba Tutors
  • Tutoring Service of New York
  • Carla Castillo, carlaswritingspace.com 
  • Literacy Access, Ivy Sandz 
  • Kaplan Tutoring Services (separate from Kaplan)
  • ArborBridge
  • INC Education – focus on BIPOC students
  • Central Park Tutors
  • Special Education Resource
  • Parallel
  • Aralia
  • Revolution Prep
  • Prepclass
  • Studypool
Princeton University
Princeton University (Image Credit: Ilya Chugunov CC BY-SA 4.0)


Why is learning how to write important?

Writing is a core skill that is essential for success in high school and college, as well as many graduate programs and future careers

Consider the following:

  • AP tests that require short answers and essays: AP English Literature, AP English Language, AP US History, AP European History
  • College admissions essays
  • Scholarship essays
  • Writing samples for college applications
  • Exams and papers for college classes
  • Internship applications
  • Grant applications
  • Fellowship applications (Fulbright, Rhodes, Gates, NIH, etc)
  • Graduate school applications (medical school, law school, business school, etc)
  • Research paper samples for graduate school applications
  • Master’s and doctoral theses
  • Coverletters and resumes for job applications
  • Networking with potential mentors
  • Written updates for your supervisor
  • Quarterly and annual reports for your job
  • Advertising for your freelance business
  • Letter for your mortgage application
  • Instructions to your direct supervisee
  • Speeches for your best friends’ weddings
  • Emails to your boss asking for a raise

Effective writing is at the heart of nearly every life hurdle! 

The skills that you build when you’re writing school assignments will be incredibly useful throughout your life. They’re applicable in nearly any job that you can imagine! Even for STEM jobs like doctors or computer engineers, clear writing is a highly-valued skill — one that becomes increasingly important as one aims at higher roles.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 73.4% of employers want a candidate with strong written communication skills. According to the College Board's National Commission on Writing, two-thirds of salaried workers in large US companies have jobs that require writing

"Writing skills are fundamental in business," a survey respondent in the College Board report said, "It's increasingly important to be able to convey content in a tight logical direct manner particularly in a fast-paced technological environment."

A recent publication from the Harvard Business School agreed, noting that “companies will waste lots of time and effort if their executives and employees can’t communicate clearly.”

writing in future career

However, many people lack the writing skills to succeed in their careers. The College Board's study found that a majority of US employers said that a third of workers fail to meet the writing requirements of their positions.

When I was teaching college students at the University of Notre Dame, many of my students (especially freshmen and sophomores) had brilliant ideas, but were not able to communicate those ideas clearly in writing.

If writing is such a key skill for success in education, career, and life, why do so many people lack this skill?

Unfortunately, many schools don’t teach students how to write effectively. Classes assign essays and leave students to flounder, especially in larger classes where well-meaning teachers might not have enough time to help each student individually. 

The students who are the most successful tend to benefit from informal writing guidance at home from their parents or other mentors. But this is challenging and time-consuming — not to mention, many parents might not have honed those writing skills themselves!

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

student writing


Learning to Write for College Admissions Essays

Because they’re one of the most consequential writing assignments students face, let’s focus on college application essays for a moment.

Can a great college essay alone get you into Harvard?

No. You’ll need your grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities (as well as letters of recommendation and interview) to be outstanding.

But can a mediocre essay be the reason you didn’t get into Harvard?

Yes. There are thousands of amazingly-qualified students who graduate from high school each year. Great grades and test scores might be a prerequisite for admission to a competitive college, but they alone aren’t enough.

College essays are a key component of a student’s application. When done well, they transform a collection of numbers — GPA, class rank, SAT scores or ACT scores, number of AP classes taken, AP scores — into a picture of a real, individual person.

Essays do many things. Good college essays can highlight extracurricular achievements which otherwise would be overlooked in a sterile list. Strong essays often indicate the student’s future plans — how they plan to leave a mark on their college campus and on the world. They can shine a light on unique challenges that a student may have had to face on their journey.

Princeton University
Princeton University (Image Credit: Joshua Jen @jjen.photography)

College admissions officers only have a few minutes to spend on each application. College essays need to be original, interesting, and memorable. They need to grab the attention of the admissions officer and persuade them that this is the student out of hundreds or thousands of other similarly-qualified applicants who should be admitted.

College admissions essays are usually unlike any other kind of writing that students have done before. They’re a combination of memoir and marketing pitch, and they need to be creative but also highly strategic. That’s a tough assignment!

A great writing tutor can help students learn the essential skills that underpin this unique kind of writing.


Why work with a writing tutor?

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

  • You want to improve your grades in your school essays and papers
  • You want to improve your performance on the writing portion of exams (like many APs)
  • You don’t know how to make an outline before writing an essay
  • You don’t know how to write a thesis statement
  • You’re not sure how to improve your writing based on feedback from your teachers
  • You’re not sure how to edit and refine what you’ve written
  • You have a hard time keeping yourself on track for your writing assignments and want an external structure to hold you accountable
  • You have no idea where to start in order to write your college application essays
  • You don’t know how to craft a compelling story for your college application essays
  • You feel overwhelmed by all of the different ideas you have and don’t know what would be the most strategic for college admissions—and what topics to definitely avoid for college essays
  • You’re tired of conflict between students and parents about college essays
  • You’re aiming at a competitive college (not just the Ivy League!) and know that you need your essays to be outstanding
  • Your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars aren’t exceptional, so you need your college essays to make your essay stand out from the pack
  • You’re unfamiliar with the US college admissions process (a common situation for international students and first-generation families in the US)
  • You want to learn to write so you can succeed in your later career
  • You know that if you learn to write well now, you’ll do better on every class, exam, assignment, and application for the rest of your life!

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

A good writing tutor should not only provide students feedback on writing assignments (comments like “your thesis statement should be clearer” or “your introductory paragraph needs a better hook”) — they’ll teach students how to effect those changes

A good writing tutor can provide lots of examples of good student writing and model how to improve the specific areas that need improvement for each individual student.

Remember, writing is an essential skill for most degrees and most careers — even in STEM! Learning to write well early on will make each subsequent education and career step easier and more successful.

writing


What makes a good writing tutor?

Of course, a good writing tutor should be someone who understands how to write well!

But in addition to that sine qua non, a good writing tutor should be an amazing teacher with experience, a strong educational background, and the ability to plan appropriate enrichment assignments.

Good writing has two components: 

  • a micro level: good grammar, a rich vocabulary, correct punctuation, and the other nuts and bolts of writing “correctly”
  • a macro level: being able to organize your ideas clearly and communicate them effectively — figuring out what you want to say, in what order to present your ideas, and how to connect them

Both are crucial to written communication, and a good writing tutor will teach both the micro level and the macro level.

It can be surprisingly challenging to find a good instructor who can teach both sides of writing.

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

Harvard University

Writing is a highly individualized activity — learning to write is, after all, learning how to communicate. This means that individual tutoring is particularly effective for learning how to write more effectively. 

The personal nature of writing also means that students will learn better when they can establish a relationship with their writing tutor. Look for a tutoring service where students can continue with the same tutor and build a sense of rapport.

A good writing tutor can help students to succeed on any writing assignments they may have for school. They can teach students how to work through the entire process of brainstorming, researching, planning, outlining, writing, and revising an essay.

An experienced writing tutor can also create additional assignments for students that will teach them key writing skills for the future and enrich their education. 

These enrichment assignments might include research papers, literary analysis papers, or creative writing projects appropriate to their grade level. This can be a great opportunity to challenge high-achieving students and develop their skills beyond what is offered by their school.

writing


Summary

Best overall: The one-on-one writing 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 offer educational enrichment and coach students through creative writing projects. Starting at just $66/hour, students can work with current undergraduates at Princeton, Harvard, and other Ivy-League universities to improve their writing 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. Unique among the tutoring services we surveyed, PrepMaven doesn't just offer assignment support — they can also teach students how to write.

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, mosts 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.

Best free writing tutoring (for qualifying families): For qualifying lower-income families and students, Learn to Be is a fantastic option for free tutoring. Students can work with the same tutor consistently, which provides a good environment for learning. Tutors are volunteers with a wide range of backgrounds and experience levels, from current high school students to retired professionals.

University of Chicago (Image Credit: Rick Seidel Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)
University of Chicago (Image Credit: Rick Seidel Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)


Next steps

Ready to learn to write 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 writing abilities and planned career path, learning how to write well is a skill that will pay dividends throughout your life

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

Writing is also a highly-valued skill in the workplace, and employers are looking for graduates who are strong writers.

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


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ISEE vs SSAT: Comparing the private school admissions tests

Bonus Material: Step-by-step plan for choosing between the ISEE and SSAT

Thinking about applying to private elementary, middle, or high schools? 

Then you’ll have to take (and succeed on!) either the ISEE or the SSAT, the standardized exams private schools use to evaluate applicants. 

These tests differ in multiple ways, so choosing the right test for you is critical for gaining admission to selective private schools. 

In this blog post, we’ll cover the differences between the ISEE and the SSAT, show you a few sample questions, and, most importantly, offer ways for you to decide which test plays to your strengths. 

Jump to section:

ISEE vs SSAT At a Glance
ISEE: Primary Level (Grades 2-4)
Test Formats: Lower/Elementary Level
Test Formats: Middle and Upper Level
Content: Math on the ISEE vs SSAT
Content: Reading on the ISEE vs SSAT
Content: Verbal on the ISEE vs SSAT
Scoring
Which Should You Take?
Next steps

Bonus Download: Step-by-step guide to decide whether you should take the ISEE or SSAT


ISEE vs SSAT at a glance

The ISEE and SSAT are two tests used by private schools when evaluating applicants. Both exams test math, verbal, and writing skills, with slightly differing formats.

should students take the ISEE or the SSAT for private school admissions?

The Middle and Upper Levels of the exams are available in paper and computerized versions, while tests for those applying to elementary schools are only available in paper form. 

One key thing to note is that there are different levels of each test, depending on which grades you’re applying to:

ISEE SSAT
Level Grades Level Grades
Primary 2–4
Lower 5–6 Elementary 4–5
Middle 7–8 Middle  6–8
Upper 9–12 Upper 9–12

Note: the SSAT does not offer a test for admission to grades 2 and 3. For application to those grades, you’ll have to take the ISEE. 

Whatever grade you’re applying to, make sure you’re studying and signing up for the correct level!

Phillips Andover Academy (MA)
Phillips Andover Academy (MA)

ISEE: Primary Level (Grades 2–4)

The Primary Level of the ISEE is very different from the upper levels of either test. See below for a detailed explanation of the format for each grade level up to grade 4. Remember: your student would only take this test for admission to grades 2-4. 

Section Questions Timing
Auditory Comprehension 
(Only for Grade 2)
1 audio passage w/ 6 questions 7 minutes
Reading Grade 2: 18 Questions Grade 2: 20 minutes
Grade 3: 24 Questions Grade 3: 28 minutes
Grade 4: 28 Questions Grade 4: 30 minutes
Math Grade 2: 24 Multiple Choice Grade 2: 26 minutes
Grade 3: 24 Multiple Choice Grade 3: 26 minutes
Grade 4: 28 Multiple Choice Grade 4: 30 minutes
students

Test Formats: Lower/Elementary Level

The next level of the ISEE is the Lower level, for admission to grades 5–6. The SSAT offers an Elementary level, for admission to grades 4–5. 

Both the ISEE and SSAT attempt to test students’ potential as a student as measured by verbal, quantitative, and writing skills. But they do so in different ways: 

One key difference is the SSAT has students complete a short experimental section. This section contains a mix of quantitative and verbal questions, and, most importantly, is not scored. It’s just there for the test-writers to try out some new questions, though unfortunately it means another 15 minutes of test-taking for students. 

Another key difference is the way each test splits up its math section. The format of each test is outlined below. 

Lower Level ISEE

Section Questions Time
Verbal Reasoning 34 20 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 38 35 minutes
Break - 10 minutes
Reading Comprehension 25 25 minutes
Mathematics Achievement 30 30 minutes
Break - 10 minutes
Essay 1 30 minutes

Elementary Level SSAT

Section Questions Time
Quantitative 30 30 minutes
Verbal 20 20 minutes
Break - 15 minutes
Reading 28 30 minutes
Writing 1 15 minutes
Experimental* 15-17 15 minutes

* The experimental section is not scored. It’s a way for the test-makers to test future questions. 


Test Formats: Middle and Upper Level

Students applying to higher grades will have to take either the Middle or Upper level ISEE or SSAT. These formats are very similar to the Lower Level tests, but with more questions. Take a look at the structure for each test below:

Middle/Upper ISEE

Section Questions Time
Verbal Reasoning 40 20 minutes
Quantitative Reasoning 37 35 minutes
Break - 10 minutes
Reading Comprehension 36 35 minutes
Mathematics Achievement 47 40 minutes
Break - 10 minutes
Essay 1 30 minutes

Middle/Upper SSAT 

Section Questions Time
Writing Sample 2 25 minutes
Break - 5 minutes (paper test),
10 minutes (computer test)
Quantitative  25 30 minutes
Reading 40 40 minutes
Break - 10 minutes
Verbal 60 30 minutes
Quantitative 25 30 minutes
Experimental* 16 15 minutes

* The experimental section is not scored. It’s a way for the test-makers to test future questions. 

students


Content: ISEE vs SSAT Math

Both the ISEE and SSAT generally test the same set of math concepts:

  • Pre-Algebra and Algebra
  • Numbers and Operations
  • Measurement
  • Data Analysis/Probability

But each test organizes and presents the math questions differently. It’s important to note that neither test allows the use of a calculator. Take a look below for a detailed breakdown of each math section, with example questions. 

Deerfield Academy (MA)
Deerfield Academy (MA)

ISEE Math 

On the ISEE, you’ll see one section called “Quantitative Reasoning” and another called “Mathematics Achievement.” Both test your math skills, so you might be wondering what the point of separating them out is. 

Quantitative Reasoning is designed to test your “mathematical thinking.” Believe it or not, according to the ISEE test-makers, this section “requires little or no calculations.” 

The Quantitative Reasoning section is itself split into two parts. The first contains word problems similar to what you may have seen in class or on previous math tests. They might look like this: 

ISEE math word problem
example ISEE question created by PrepMaven, all rights reserved

The key here isn’t doing a complicated calculation. Instead, it’s understanding what happens to the whole expression when you change one piece. (In this case, the correct answer is A: can you see why without doing much math?)

The second part of this section has “Quantitative Comparison” Questions that each give you two mathematical expressions and ask you to decide which of the two–if any–is greater than the other. They look like this: 

ISEE math comparison question
example ISEE question created by PrepMaven, all rights reserved

The answer here is A.

The “Mathematics Achievement” section presents you with 47 more questions (30 on the Lower Level test). These are a mix of word problems, geometry, and charts/tables that test your knowledge of key math concepts, terms, and operations. Unlike the “Quantitative Reasoning” section, you’ll definitely have to do calculations here! 

You might see a question like this: 

ISEE math calculation question
example ISEE question created by PrepMaven, all rights reserved

Notice that here, the correct answer (which is B) really depends on your ability to perform specific calculations. 

St Pauls School (NH)
St Pauls School (NH)

SSAT Math

The Middle/Upper SSAT, on the other hand, has two identical quantitative sections titled (as you might expect) “Quantitative 1” and “Quantitative 2.” Each has 25 questions that test a broad range of mathematical concepts, including your ability to perform calculations. 

For a detailed guide that breaks down the SSAT Math section, check out our post here.  


Content: ISEE vs SSAT Reading

The reading sections between the tests are quite similar in terms of length, structure, and pacing. 

ISEE

The Middle/Upper ISEE Reading sections have 6 passages with 6 questions each. These passages will be a mix of historical, scientific, and literary. Questions test your ability to understand the main idea, supporting ideas, vocabulary in context, and tone/style. 

The Lower Level ISEE Reading is the same, but with easier readings and only 5 passages with 5 questions each. 

SSAT

The Middle/Upper SSAT Reading section gives you shorter passages, but more of them (7–8). There are also slightly more total questions than on the ISEE. However, it still tests the same fundamental concepts, and the passages themselves are similar to those on the ISEE.

The Elementary level SSAT Reading section has 7 shorter, easier passages with 4 questions each. 

Hill School (PA)
Hill School (PA)

Content: ISEE vs SSAT Verbal

While the reading comprehension sections are very similar between the two tests, a major difference exists in how they structure their verbal sections. 

ISEE

The ISEE’s Verbal Reasoning section consists of two types of questions: Synonym and Sentence Completion

Synonym Questions are very straightforward: they present you with a word, and you have to pick the answer that most closely says the same thing. 

They might look like this: 

ISEE synonym question
example ISEE question created by PrepMaven, all rights reserved

Sentence Completion Questions give you a sentence with one word missing: you have to pick the correct word based on the context of the sentence. You might see something like this: 

ISEE sentence completion question
example ISEE question created by PrepMaven, all rights reserved
Spence School (NYC)
Spence School (NYC)

SSAT

The SSAT’s Verbal Section is also split up into two types of questions: Synonym and Analogy

The Synonym questions look a lot like the ones on the ISEE. You might see something like this: 

SSAT synonym question
example SSAT question created by PrepMaven, all rights reserved

While the Synonym questions probably feel pretty familiar, the Analogy questions are likely to be new to you. In fact, it’s these Analogy questions that students often struggle with most on the test. 

Analogy Questions give you two words with a particular relationship, and ask you to pick an option that has the same relationship. For example: 

SSAT analogy question
example SSAT question created by PrepMaven, all rights reserved

Try giving that one a shot on your own. If you find it tough, you might want to check out our post on how to tackle the SSAT Verbal section. (The correct answer, by the way, is D.)

Phillips Andover Academy (MA)
Phillips Andover Academy (MA)


Scoring

Answer Options and Penalties

There are several important differences in terms of scoring. For one, the SSAT always presents you with 5 answer options. The ISEE, on the other hand, gives you 4. 

Even more importantly, the SSAT penalizes you for wrong answers: putting the wrong answer down for a question causes you to lose ¼ point. Leaving an answer blank does not deduct points from your score.

Because of the penalty, on the SSAT, you should only guess if you’re able to eliminate one or more of the options. 

In contrast, the ISEE does not deduct points for wrong answers

This means that on the ISEE, you should never leave an answer blank.

Use these differences between the ISEE and the SSAT to determine which is a better fit. Our convenient quiz and step-by-step guide makes this much easier!

Score Reports

ISEE

The ISEE Score report can look confusing, but we’ll break it down below. It’ll look like this:

ISEE score report
Image source: erblearn.org

The ISEE gives you four separate section scores, each on a scale from 760 to 940. That score will be accompanied by a percentile rank and a stanine rank for each section: these are really the important metrics. 

The percentile rank tells you how many students you outperformed on each section. A 95th percentile on Verbal Reasoning, for example, would mean you scored higher on that section than 95% of other students who took the test in the last 3 years. (Congrats!)

The stanine score is a bit confusing (and a bit redundant). It runs on a scale of 1–9 and also corresponds to your percentile rank on a bell curve: a stanine of 9 corresponds to the top 4% of scorers, while a stanine of 1 corresponds to the bottom 4% of scorers. In general: 1–3 is below average, 4–6 is average, and 7–9 is above average. 

The writing isn’t scored. Instead, it’s sent directly to schools for them to evaluate on their own. 

SSAT

The SSAT score report is a bit more intuitive: 

Image source: ssat.org

The SSAT is scored on a range of 1500-2400, with each score corresponding to an overall  percentile, as on the ISEE. No messy stanines to deal with here: just focus on the score and percentile. 

You also receive three subscores for Verbal, Quantitative, and Reading, each ranging from 500 to 800. Each of these scores also has a corresponding percentile. 

As with the ISEE, the essay portion is unscored and sent to schools directly. 

Collegiate School (New York City)
Collegiate School (New York City) - Image courtesy of Ajay Suresh. Used by permission under CC BY 2.0.


Which Test Should You Take?

The first and biggest factor is the school you’re applying to. If your school has a preference for one test over the other, you should make sure to prepare for and take that test to maximize your chances. 

School preferences vary, but many schools accept either the SSAT or the ISEE without preference. If that’s the case for your schools, then the choice is up to you, and will depend on which test’s content you prefer. 

The best thing you can do is take a diagnostic test for each one. This’ll really give you a feel for the tests’ pace and content. But there are some other things to consider:

Are you more of a verbal person? In particular, do you find that you’re good at the analogy questions? If so, you’ll have an advantage over other students on that section of the SSAT, since many struggle. 

Another factor to consider is your math performance. If you find the math sections equally difficult on the tests, it’s worth noting that the ISEE will report two math scores for you, and the SSAT will only report one. 

That means the SSAT is better for “burying” a weak math score, since ⅔ of your overall score will come from the Verbal and Reading sections. 

On the other hand, many people find the ISEE test more straightforward than the SSAT. If analogies aren’t your thing, or if you find that you perform well on the ISEE’s dual math sections, that may be the better test for you. 

Another consideration is how often you can retake each test. The Middle and Upper SSAT can be taken in paper form every time they’re offered (5 times per year) and in computerized form twice per year. The Elementary SSAT can only be taken twice per year. 

The ISEE is stricter: the ISEE can only be taken three times per year: once in the fall, once in the winter, and once in the spring/summer. 

We organized all of these details into a convenient quiz and checklist, which you can download for free here. Simply follow the steps to determine with confidence which test plays to the strengths of your student!

Regis School (NYC)
Regis School (NYC) - Image courtesy of Ajay Suresh. Used by permission under CC BY 2.0.

Next steps

Once you’ve read over the differences between the two tests and checked whether the schools you’re eying have a preference, the best move is to take a full practice test of each. You can find these official tests for free on the test-makers’ websites: SSAT.org and ERBlearn.org. 

We’ve also created this free step-by-step guide to help you prepare for and choose the right test stress-free. Download it here and use it to get started!

If you need help breaking down your performance on these tests, there’s nothing like personalized one-on-one tutoring to help you maximize your score. We’ve helped thousands of students excel on these tests, so feel free to reach out here and be paired with an experienced test prep expert. We also offer free short test-prep consultations — just drop us a line.

ISEE or SSAT? Follow our step-by-step guide to decide

Bonus Material: Step-by-step guide to decide whether you should take the ISEE or SSAT



15 Best PSAT Tutoring Services for 2022 (75 Tutoring Services Reviewed)

Looking for the best PSAT tutoring service? We conducted days of research and compared the top 75 tutoring services, created in-depth reviews for 15 of them, and narrowed it down to the 4 best that will help you increase your PSAT scores and compete for scholarships.

(Not sure what the PSAT is in the first place, and if it matters? Read on to learn why it counts and which students in particular should take it seriously!)

What is the Best PSAT Tutoring?

  1. PrepMaven – best PSAT tutoring overall
  2. Princeton Review – best of the big test prep companies
  3. Wyzant – alternative for families on a budget
  4. Khan Academy – honorable mention for self-guided PSAT & SAT prep

The best of the rest:

  1. Kaplan – big test prep with high minimum purchase
  2. Prep Expert – budget rates with inexperienced tutors
  3. PrepScholar – overpriced tutoring with limited guarantee
  4. Tutoring Service of New York – new service with higher minimum package
  5. StudyPoint – corporate vibe with high minimum purchase
  6. SoFlo Tutors – young service featuring memes
  7. Parker Academics – higher rates for outdated PSAT tutoring
  8. LA Tutors – higher rates for less-qualified instructors
  9. Elite Ivy Tutors – pricey service with long sessions
  10. Summit Prep – less-qualified instructors
  11. Varsity Tutors – uneven quality, no extras


Best PSAT Tutoring in 2022

#1 - PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Best PSAT Tutoring Overall

Price: $79–349/hour

When comparing quality of teaching, price, and customer service, PrepMaven comes out on top.

PrepMaven has assembled an impressive team of Ivy-League tutors to provide one-on-one PSAT tutoring. Most tutors are Princeton graduates with extensive teaching experience. Many of PrepMaven’s tutors were also National Merit Finalists and Scholarship winners (the ultimate goal of high-achieving students when they take the PSAT).

A boutique education company founded by two brothers, both Princeton graduates passionate about teaching, PrepMaven offers more individualized learning experiences than bigger test prep companies. Tutors undergo a thorough training process that allows them to effectively teach students how to take advantage of the standardized nature of the test.

With a range of price points depending on tutor qualifications, families are able to find the right fit for their budget. At just $79/hour, families can work with current students at the most elite universities in the country, like Princeton and Harvard. PrepMaven’s Master level ($149/hour) provides one-on-one tutoring with Ivy-League graduates who have extensive teaching and test prep experience — a lower price than other tutoring services, for more elite instructors. It’s also possible to work one-on-one with the very best tutors at $349/hr, and there is the opportunity to work directly with the founders of the company.

Recommended by US News, PrepMaven also provides free resources for test prep and regularly shares insights garnered from connections with former admissions officers.

Best for:

PrepMaven’s one-on-one PSAT tutoring is the best option for anyone looking for high-quality PSAT prep.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $79–349/hour, depending on tutor qualifications
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League students and graduates (mostly from Princeton) with extensive teaching experience

What we like:

  • Experienced Ivy-League tutors, selected for their passion for education and working with students
  • Competitive pricing — rates are lower than other options for highly qualified tutors
  • Impressive client reviews — hundreds of 5-star reviews on Google and other independent review platforms
  • More individualized learning experience compared to large companies

MIT
MIT

#2 - Princeton Review

Our Verdict — Best of the Big Test Prep Companies

Price: $167–190/hour

The Princeton Review actually has no connection to Princeton University.

However, they’re still well-known in their own right as a large educational company, as well as the publishers of many test prep and college admissions guides.

Tutors with the Princeton Review receive extensive training. They are not required to be Ivy-League graduates or have scored highly themselves on standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, or GRE.

Best for:

  • Princeton Review is a good option for families who want to work with one of the largest test prep companies.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $167–190/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: trained instructors; no specific requirements for high SAT scores or top school

What we like:

  • Large, established test prep company

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualification requirements for tutors—although tutors have more extensive training than some other companies
Stanford University
Stanford University (Image Credit: King of Hearts Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

#3 - 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 PSAT tutors as low as $20 per hour. However, these tutors might not have any experience or training, and they may not have scored highly on the PSAT themselves or graduated from a top school. Tutors with more qualifications may have much higher rates, as high as $600 per hour!

Best for:

  • Wyzant is a good option for families on a budget who are willing to find their own tutor and take a gamble on quality

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

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

#4 - Khan Academy

Our Verdict — Honorable Mention for Free Self-Guided PSAT Prep

Price: $0

Khan Academy technically doesn’t belong on this list, since they don’t offer any live PSAT tutoring. However, it’s such a fantastic resource that we’d be remiss not to mention it.

It’s hard to beat completely free, officially-approved test prep! And because the PSAT and SAT are nearly identical (both are made by the College Board), Khan Academy’s SAT resources are also great for prepping for the PSAT.

For motivated and organized students ready to work independently, Khan Academy has amazing content. A non-profit educational organization, Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board (the makers of the SAT) to provide free test prep that’s accessible to everyone. That means that apart from the official practice tests, Khan Academy’s materials are the only other materials officially approved by the College Board.

(Many companies will produce their own “practice tests” that mimic the test but are not official tests. All of the official tests are available for free online from the College Board or in the College Board SAT book.)

Students create a profile with a SAT Dashboard that guides them through video lessons, quizzes, practice questions with detailed explanations, and full-length practice tests.

Of course, this resource is quite limited as there’s no tutor or instructor to guide students, craft learning plans, and answer questions.

Best for:

  • Khan Academy’s SAT prep platform is the best option for anyone who wants to prep independently for the PSAT with just the test content, no strategy tips.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $0
  • Tutor qualifications: no instructor, but the materials are approved by the College Board

What we like:

  • Partnership with the College Board (makers of the SAT and PSAT) means that materials are officially approved
  • Individual math concepts have particularly strong content, great for reviewing with short videos and then doing practice with instant feedback
  • It’s free!

What we don’t like:

  • Covers only test content, no strategy—and learning the test format and key strategies is an important component of test prep
  • Content is weaker for Reading and Writing sections, especially compared to their content for the Math sections
  • Self-guided platform means that students have to craft their own study plan and decide which areas to practice—and there’s no one to hold them accountable
  • Refers to the SAT, not the PSAT—the tests are nearly identical but there are some slight differences, which might confuse students

SAT Tutoring Alternatives (that Didn’t Make the Cut)

#5 - Kaplan

Our Verdict — Big Test Prep with High Minimum Prices

Price: $115–200/hour, $1999 minimum package

Along with Princeton Review, Kaplan is one of the biggest test prep companies. We found their tutoring sessions to have a more corporate vibe, perhaps due to their large size.

Kaplan offers four tutoring packages of different sizes. Their minimum purchase is a package of 10 tutoring hours at $1999. This comes out to $200/hour for tutoring, which is a very steep price—especially considering that their tutors have no required qualifications like high test scores themselves or degrees from top schools!

Their hourly rate does decrease if one purchases a large tutoring package, but their tutor qualifications remain less rigorous than other options.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $1999 for 10 tutoring hours, $2899 for 20 tutoring hours, $3799 for 30 tutoring hours, or $4599 for 40 tutoring hours
  • Tutor qualifications: no specific qualifications

What we like:

  • Large, established test prep company

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors have no required qualifications
  • High minimum purchase of $1999 for 10 hours of tutoring

#6 - Prep Expert

Our Verdict — Budget Rates with Inexperienced Tutors

Price: $59–89/hour

Better known for their SAT prep group courses, Prep Expert also offers individual tutoring that can work for the PSAT.

Their tutors are all top 1% scorers on the SAT themselves, which is a good background for the PSAT. However, the tutors may be inexperienced at tutoring and don’t benefit from training, so the quality of teaching may be uneven.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $59–89/hour; $89/hour for pay-as-you-go, $316 for 4 hours ($79/hour), $552 for 8 hours ($69/hour), or $944 for 16 hours ($59/hour); alternatively, the offer a tutoring subscription service: $299 for 4 hours each month, $499 for 8 hours each month, or $699 for unlimited hours each month
  • Tutor qualifications: top 1% scorers

What we like:

  • PSAT tutors are top 1% scorers

What we don’t like:

  • Refund process is difficult and families have reported that the score increase guarantee may not be honored
  • Tutors don’t have training

#7 - PrepScholar

Our Verdict: Overpriced Tutoring with Limited Guarantee

Price: $130–249/hour, minimum $995 package

PrepScholar is another larger tutoring company that offers tutoring with top scorers on the SAT.

We also noted that PrepScholar’s advertised hourly rate (of $50 per hour) is a bit disingenuous, since it relies on including the independent homework done by the student. Of course, any tutoring service can tutor for four hours at $250/hour, assign the student to practice and watch videos for 16 hours, and then claim that the hourly rate is $50/hour…but that hardly seems fair to families.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $130–249/hour; $995 for “monitored prep” with 4 hours of tutoring ($249/hr), $1995 for 12 hours of tutoring ($166/hr), $2995 for 20 hours ($150/hr), or $6995 for 54 hours ($130/hr)
  • Tutor qualifications: top 1% scorers

What we like:

  • Tutors are top 1% scorers

What we don’t like:

  • More expensive than other options for comparable quality
  • No tutor bios or information about qualifications beyond high SAT scores
  • Disingenuous advertising that includes homework hours to calculate the hourly rate

#8 - 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 Tutoring Service of New York offers test prep and subject-area tutoring online. Most of their tutors are current graduate students, particularly at Columbia University and NYU.

At $1200, their minimum package for PSAT tutoring is on the higher side.

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, some with Ivy-League backgrounds

What we don’t like:

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

#9 - StudyPoint

Our Verdict — Corporate Vibe with High Minimum Purchase

Price: $??/hour

StudyPoint is an older company with more of a corporate feel. They do not have any specific qualifications for their tutors, like scoring highly on the SAT themselves or graduating from an elite university.

Their main claim is their “guarantee.” This is only available for students who complete at least 30 tutoring hours with their program, which is a lot of tutoring! If students don’t improve their SAT scores after completing their Comprehensive Program, they offer 18 additional tutoring hours (not your money back). They are unclear about how this guarantee can be used for PSAT tutoring.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $??/hour; Intensive Program with 60 tutoring hours, Comprehensive Program with 30 tutoring hours, Review Program with 18 tutoring hours (no score increase guarantee)
  • Tutor qualifications: no specific qualifications

What we like:

  • Additional 18 hours of tutoring if students complete at least 30 tutoring hours and don’t improve by 140 points on the SAT (guarantee raises to 220 points if students complete 60 tutoring hours)

What we don’t like:

  • High minimum purchase
  • No specific tutor qualifications
  • Limited score increase guarantee
  • Secretive about pricing — clients need to call to receive pricing information, which is not available online or via email

#10 - SoFlo Tutors

Our Verdict — Young Service Featuring Memes

Price: $60–90/hour

Founded by a 24-year-old in Southern Florida (hence their name), SoFlo is a newer company with a young team.

Their tutors are top 1% scorers themselves and are current college students or recent graduates. We would have loved to see the bios of more of their tutors — they only provide six tutor bios on their website, and a few more in their brochure.

Their website has a younger feel, with a section devoted to SAT memes.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $60–90/hour; $90/hour for pay-as-you-go, $1500 for 20 hours ($75/hour), or $2400 for 40 hours ($60/hour)
  • Tutor qualifications: top 1% scorers from top schools

What we like:

  • Tutors are top 1% scorers and from top schools
  • Reasonable pricing

What we don’t like:

  • New company with young leadership, with less experience
  • No specific option to work with more experienced tutors who have graduated college

#11 - Parker Academics

Our Verdict — Higher Rates for Outdated SAT Tutoring 

Price: $200/hour

Based in New York City, Parker Academics is a high-end tutoring service offering online PSAT test prep. Like PrepMaven and Elite Ivy Tutors, their tutors are graduates of Ivy-League institutions, but their fees are higher.

We noted that their materials online for the SAT and PSAT are outdated, and appear as if they were created shortly after the last significant change to the tests in 2016. However, the SAT and PSAT are about to undergo a major change in 2023 and 2024, so it’s especially important to work with a tutoring service that’s aware of the latest updates to the tests.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $200/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League graduates

What we like:

  • Tutors are Ivy grads

What we don’t like:

  • More expensive than other options for comparable quality
  • Website is not up-to-date

#12 - LA Tutors

Our Verdict — Higher Rates for Less-Qualified Tutors

Price: $145–185/hour

Based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, LA Tutors is a larger tutoring company. They offer limited “guaranteed results” for students who complete all tutoring sessions and homework, and take the SAT within a certain specified timeframe. It's unclear how this guarantee applies to PSAT students.

Their prices are on the higher side, but their tutors are not necessarily top scorers on the SAT themselves or graduates of elite universities.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $145–185/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors are mostly not from Ivy-Plus schools—tutors are primarily college graduates but not from the most elite institutions
  • Fees are high given the credentials of the tutors

#13 - Elite Ivy Tutors

Our Verdict — Pricey Service with Long Sessions

Price: $200–300/hour

Elite Ivy Tutors (EIT) is a small team offering tutoring from Ivy-League graduates. However, they do not publish crucial information about pricing and tutoring logistics, and we found them to be slow to respond to client emails.

Unique among the tutoring services we researched, EIT schedules sessions that are two or three hours long, rather than sixty or ninety minutes long. This length of time can be challenging for students.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $200/hour, or $300/hour to work directly with the company founder
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League graduates

What we like:

  • Tutors are Ivy grads

What we don’t like:

  • Website is confusing and lacks information
  • Long tutoring sessions of two or three hours at a time can be challenging for students
  • Higher prices than other tutoring services that also offer the chance to work with Ivy-League grads

#14 - Summit Prep

Our Verdict — Less-qualified Tutors

Price: $130–155/hour

Summit Prep is a tutoring and admissions counseling company located in New Jersey. The majority of their tutors are not graduates of elite institutions, yet their fees are higher than services with comparable instructors.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $155/hour (reduced to $130/hour with 50-hour package)
  • Tutor qualifications: mostly college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing
  • Tutors are full-time instructors with more extensive training

What we don’t like:

  • Majority of tutors are not from Ivy-Plus schools — tutors are primarily college graduates but the majority of them are not from elite institutions

#15 - Varsity Tutors

Our Verdict — Uneven Quality Without Budget Pricing 

Price: $75–95/hour

A bit like Uber for tutoring, Varsity Tutors is an enormous tutoring platform offering online instruction in all academic subjects and test prep, including PSAT prep.

However, the company's size has many downsides — most notably, very uneven quality of teaching. Tutors at Varsity can be very quickly approved and are paid lower rates than nearly any other tutoring company (just $15 for sessions that cost families $95), so it’s difficult for them to attract and retain talented instructors.

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

For families on a budget, we’d suggest considering the Standard Tutor option at PrepMaven (Ivy-League students starting at $79/hour), Prep Expert ($59–89/hour), or SoFlo Tutors (current students at $60–90/hour). If those options still don’t fit the budget, we’d recommend looking for an independent tutor on Wyzant (quality varies but you might find a decent tutor under $40/hour).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $75–95/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:

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

Duke University
Duke University

Top 75 PSAT Tutoring Services Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • Khan Academy
  • The Princeton Review
  • Kaplan
  • Prep Expert
  • PrepScholar
  • Peterson’s
  • Ivy Bound
  • College Prep Genius
  • Varsity Tutors
  • Sylvan
  • Green Test Prep
  • Higher Scores Test Prep
  • Excel Test Prep
  • Best in Class
  • CollegeVine
  • Prepare
  • College Drive
  • Love the SAT
  • Method Learning
  • SAT Blitz
  • The Answer Class
  • Trudeau Prep
  • Test Prep 4 Success
  • Private Prep
  • Manhattan Review
  • Olive Book
  • Veritas
  • Manhattan Elite Prep
  • Advantage Testing
  • New Summits
  • Parker Academics
  • LA Tutors
  • Summit Prep
  • Elite Ivy Tutors
  • Study Point
  • Huntington Learning Center
  • eTutorWorld
  • Manhattan Review
  • J & J Education
  • Boston Tutoring Services
  • Livius Prep
  • AJ Tutoring
  • Hack Your Course
  • Tiger Campus
  • Brains and Brawn
  • Bulldog Tutors
  • Denver Test Prep
  • Sexton Test Prep
  • First Choice College
  • Vint Hill Educational Services
  • Genesis Tutoring
  • Applerouth
  • Signet Education
  • Tutor Chase
  • Spires
  • Preply
  • TeacherOn
  • Socratic Summer Academy
  • MyGuru
  • Cates Tutoring
  • Kweller Prep
  • Krupnick Approach
  • Revolution Prep
  • Beyond the Test
  • Everest Tutoring
  • MathTowne
  • Gooroo
  • Bay Area Learning Center
  • McElroy Tutoring
  • Outschool
  • Leap2College
  • Tutor Corps
  • ClearPath Advantage
  • Cardinal Education
dormitory at Princeton University
Princeton University (Image Credit: Peter Dutton Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)

What is the PSAT?

Many people have heard of the SAT and the ACT, which are the two main standardized tests used to apply to colleges in the US. Both tests are accepted equally at all colleges and universities, and since there are some differences between the two, many students will try taking both to see on which test they can get a higher score.

The PSAT/NMSQT, or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, is the “practice” SAT. Most students take the SAT in the spring of their junior year, the summer between junior and senior years, or the fall of their senior year. The PSAT, on the other hand, is taken in the fall of junior year.

(There is also the PSAT 8/9, which is a version of the test for students in eighth and ninth grades to track college readiness. The PSAT 10 is exactly the same as the PSAT/NMSQT, but it’s taken in the sophomore year and can’t be used for the National Merit program. More on that in a moment.)

There are a few key differences between the PSAT and the SAT. Whereas the SAT can be taken most months of the year, the PSAT is only offered once a year in mid-October. The PSAT is taken through the student’s school, and there’s no cost to students as fees are paid by the schools. (It’s possible for homeschooled students to sign up for the PSAT at a nearby school; families should contact the school at least four months in advance to register.)

The PSAT is a little bit shorter and a little bit easier than the SAT, but otherwise it’s the same test with the same format. The whole test lasts two hours and forty-five minutes. 

Section Length (minutes) Number of questions
Reading 60 47
Writing & Language 35 44
Math 70 48

The PSAT is also scored in the same way as the SAT, but with slightly lower numbers. The two sections, Math and Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, are each scored on a scale from 160–760. This means that a “perfect” PSAT score is 1520. (A perfect SAT score, on the other hand, is 1600.)

Harvard University
Harvard University (Image Credit: Ryan Pflaum Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)


Does the PSAT matter?

It depends!

For the majority of students, it’s fine for the PSAT to simply be a “practice” SAT. In and of itself, the PSAT is not used for college admissions, and colleges will not see PSAT scores. 

It’s a good chance for students to get familiar with the test structure and question types they’ll see on the SAT. A PSAT score also lets students know approximately what scores they’ll achieve on the SAT at their current level of preparedness, and make test prep plans accordingly.

Taking practice tests is a cornerstone of test prep, and the PSAT is a chance to take a “practice SAT” that includes the features of a real test day—the nerves, the small distractions in the room, the official forms at the beginning of the test, and so on. That makes it a great trial run for the SAT, which is a key component of college admissions!

Students can also elect to make their PSAT scores visible to college recruiters. Students who score well will start receiving lots of college brochures in the mail, which can be fun!

However, for a small number of students, the PSAT can matter much more. This is because the PSAT is also the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. The National Merit Program gives scholarships to top students across the US, and students need to be in at least the top 3% of scorers for recognition, with competition for most awards limited to the top 1%.

For this reason, if students are typically in roughly the top 5% of whichever annual standardized tests they take through their school, it can be worth it to take the PSAT more seriously! The National Merit awards are widely known and can be a big boost for college admissions, in addition to the monetary value of the prizes.

If you’re not sure if you’re likely to be a National Merit contender, try taking a practice PSAT or practice SAT. If your initial scores are in 95th percentile or above, then yes, you should take the junior-year PSAT seriously.
Some elite prep schools (like Phillips Exeter Academy or the Hotchkiss School) also use the PSAT as an alternative to the SSAT or ISEE for admission to grades 11–12 or a postgraduate year. For students who want to spend the last year or two of high school at a prep school, it can be much more convenient to use the PSAT compared to the SSAT or ISEE, since the PSAT is so similar to the SAT and study materials are much more widely available.

Yale University
Yale University (Image Credit: John Phelan Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)


What is National Merit?

The National Merit Scholarship Program is one of the most widely-known and prestigious scholarship competitions in the US. 

Administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a private, not-for-profit organization, the National Merit Program recognizes high-achieving students across the country.

The contest begins in the fall of a student’s junior year, when they take the PSAT through their high school. Approximately 1.5 million students take the PSAT and, by doing so, enter the National Merit Scholarship Competition.

The following year (in September of their senior year), 34,000 students across the country receive a Letter of Commendation recognizing high achievement on the PSAT. These students scored in approximately the 97th or 98th percentile on the PSAT. Commended students are not eligible to continue on in the competition, but this is a great award to include in college applications, and they may be eligible for some special scholarships provided by corporate and business sponsors.

At the same time, 16,000 students are notified that they have achieved Semifinalist status. These are the very highest scorers in each state, roughly the 99th percentile of students taking the PSAT.

The 16,000 Semifinalists are then invited to submit applications for the National Merit Scholarships. These applications are a little like college applications, and include high school transcripts / GPA, extracurriculars, and an essay.

In February of their senior year, 15,000 of the Semifinalists advance to Finalist status. This is an amazing achievement, and is a definite boost on college applications!

Finally, roughly half of the Finalists are awarded scholarships and become National Merit Scholarship winners. There are three types of scholarships:

  • The 2,500 highest-achieving students are awarded a one-time prize of $2,500 directly from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

  • More scholarships are awarded by approximately 340 different corporate sponsors. In order to be eligible for one of these, typically a student has to both be a Finalist and also have a parent who is employed by one of the sponsors. The prizes range from $2,500 to $5,000 one-time or $1,000 to $10,000 annually. You can see a list of the companies here

  • Many colleges and universities will also offer a scholarship to students who are both admitted and also achieve Finalist status. Prizes range from $500 to $2,000 annually. 
National Merit diagram

Of course, these are only the scholarships that are offered via the National Merit Program. There are many other colleges that offer larger scholarships to National Merit Finalists. Schools tend to compete to see how many of the National Merit Finalists they can attract, and some will even offer full-ride scholarships or guaranteed admission to National Merit students.

Some schools offering full-ride scholarships to National Merit students include:

  • University of Texas at Dallas — in addition to free tuition, UT Dallas also gives National Merit students room and board, a $4,000 per semester stipend, and a one-time $6,000 stipend for international study
  • Florida International University — their international business program is ranked #2 in the nation
  • University of Alabama — full tuition for five years for undergraduate and graduate studies, four years of on-campus housing, a $3,500 annual stipend for four years, $2,000 for summer research or international study, and $2000 book scholarship
  • University of Oklahoma — full tuition for five years (undergraduate and graduate), $5,500 freshman housing scholarship, $5,500 annually for fees, books, room and board, $5,000 cash stipend, $1,000 technology and textbook stipend, $1,000 research and study abroad stipend
  • Fordham University
  • University of Maine
  • Oklahoma State University — they offer free tuition for five years, a $5,500-per-year scholarship for room and board, and $19,000 in additional scholarships
  • University of South Florida
  • Washington State University
  • University of New Mexico

In short, for high-achieving students there can be a lot of money on the line with the PSAT! And while schools like Harvard or Stanford might not offer scholarship money for National Merit (in fact, there are no merit scholarships at Harvard and the other Ivies), it will definitely help with admissions.

That’s why we advise students in the 95th percentile and above to take it seriously. If that might apply to you, set up a free test prep consultation with our team.

National Merit piechart

Read more details about the competition directly from the National Merit Program here.


What’s a good score on the PSAT?

The definition of a “good” PSAT score is subjective, really.

Each section on the PSAT is scored on a scale from 160–760. This means that a “perfect” PSAT score is 1520: 760 Math and 760 Evidence-Based Reading & Writing, are each scored 

The College Board has set “benchmarks” to college readiness for each of their tests. For the PSAT/NMSQT, those numbers are 460 for Reading & Writing and 510 for Math. Students need to hit those benchmarks in order to be “ready” for college.

According to 2020–21 data, the average PSAT score in the US is slightly higher than those benchmarks, or 1010 (source). 

The cutoff score for National Merit Commended status varies each year, but generally students need to score about 1400.

(Note: the National Merit Scholarship Corporation compares your PSAT scores with those of other students in your state using its own Selection Index, which falls on a scale between 48 and 228. This is calculated by adding each of the three section scores (Math, Reading, and Writing) together and then multiplying by 2. The upshot of this is that your Math score counts less in the eyes of National Merit than it does for your straight-up PSAT or SAT score, where your Reading and Writing scores are averaged. Yes, we know it’s confusing. We’re going to just talk about PSAT scores here, but read here for more about the Selection Index cutoff scores for each state.)

The cutoff score for National Merit Semifinalist status depends on the state. To be competitive for National Merit Semifinalist status, students need to score about 1400 on the PSAT in less competitive states like Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota . . . or about 1470 on the PSAT in more competitive states like Connecticut or New Jersey.

Furthermore, a PSAT score is a good predictor of a student’s SAT score if they don’t do any further studying or preparation.

In order to be a competitive applicant for the Ivy League, students will need SAT scores of at least 1450: higher than 730 Math and higher than 710 Reading & Writing.

If we broaden that list to the top 50 colleges and universities in the US, students need SAT scores of 1390 (700 Math and 690 Reading & Writing) to be competitive.

Learn more about average SAT scores at different schools here.

If your PSAT score still falls below those cutoff scores, don’t worry! It’s absolutely possible to raise your scores through studying and practice. We find that most of our students see a score raise of 100–300 points on the PSAT and SAT after working with our tutors.

Princeton University
Princeton University (Image Credit: James Loesch Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)


Why work with a PSAT tutor?

Remember, the PSAT is nearly the same as the SAT, so any prep for the PSAT also prepares students for the SAT.

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

  • You have no idea where to start in order to prepare for the PSAT and SAT
  • You feel overwhelmed by all of the different SAT prep books and materials and don’t know which to choose
  • You have a hard time keeping yourself on track and want an external structure to hold you accountable
  • You’re not sure how to track your progress
  • You’ve been practicing on your own but your gains have plateaued
  • You have a limited amount of time and need to be efficient in your studying
  • You want to learn techniques for managing test anxiety
  • You want insider tips about test strategies
  • You want more individualized attention than you’d get in a prep class with other students
  • You want to learn efficiently, with each lesson tailored to your exact needs
  • You’re a high scorer who would be bored in a general prep class
  • You’re a lower scorer who would benefit from more focused help
  • You have specific gaps in your knowledge (e.g. missed a few months of geometry due to Covid, an injury, a family move, etc.) and need a tutor to teach this material

With our PSAT and SAT students, we typically see students increase their scores by about 100–300 points after working with a tutor. This can have a significant impact on college admissions.

University of Chicago
University of Chicago


What makes a good PSAT tutor?

Like with any other test, it’s possible to improve your performance on the PSAT and SAT with the right practice and preparation.

However, specific preparation for the PSAT and SAT is usually not taught in schools, so students and families are on their own preparing for it.

Guidance with PSAT and SAT prep comes in two main forms: group classes or individual tutoring. Many students combine the two, following an SAT group class with some one-on-one tutoring to focus on a tailored approach for that student’s strengths and weaknesses.

In this post, though, we focused on PSAT and SAT individual tutoring.

These days, many tutoring sessions are online. This allows students to seek out the best tutor regardless of their physical location, which is great!

The most important aspect of a good PSAT tutoring experience is the teacher. Tutoring sessions should be taught by experienced instructors who know the test inside and out and have helped many other students. The instructors should be people who scored highly on the test themselves, ideally in the top 1%

Classes should begin with a diagnostic test and a detailed score report to analyze a student’s starting point.

A PSAT tutor can introduce the test format and de-mystify the test for students and families. A good tutor will make sure that students are using the best available resources for studying and practice.

Princeton University
Princeton University

Especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have had interruptions in their education, resulting in knowledge gaps that can cause difficulties on the SAT and for years to come. 

A perceptive tutor will find these gaps and help to fill them by teaching whatever material a student needs. Working one-on-one is unparalleled in its efficacy for remedying these interruptions in a student’s learning, since a tutor can notice these gaps much more easily than a teacher with a classroom full of students.

Whatever students are struggling with, a good tutor will spot those skill gaps and teach that material in an encouraging way.

Managing test preparation and studying can also be stressful for family dynamics. Working with a tutor means that parents don’t have to be involved directly — the tutor can be the one to assign homework, establish holistic studying schedules, and track progress.

A good PSAT tutor takes a lot of the stress out of the PSAT process and makes sure students are practicing effectively. Tutors can provide students with study materials and guide students in using them correctly

Thorough PSAT tutors can also help students to make a holistic study plan and keep them on track, so that parents don’t have to be involved directly. 

Effective PSAT tutors will assign structured homework so that students can practice constructively with official test questions. There are a very limited number of official practice tests, so it’s important to make the most of them! 

Good PSAT tutors will help students work through missed problems and answer students’ questions.

In addition, there are many strategies and tricks that can make the test easier. Unlike some self-directed courses and books, a good PSAT tutor can share these tricks with students and guide them through implementing test strategies.

Finally, a great PSAT tutor will be a cheerleader for the student. An experienced PSAT tutor can help students to learn ways to manage test anxiety and learn key study strategies — both of which will be super valuable for the rest of their academic careers and beyond. 

A great PSAT tutor will encourage their students and leave them feeling confident and ready for the PSAT!

Stanford University
Stanford University


Summary

Best overall: PrepMaven’s one-on-one PSAT tutoring 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 PSAT and 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.

Best of the big companies: 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.

Best 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 combine free resources like Khan Academy and the free practice materials available from the College Board with a few hours of high-quality tutoring.

Best self-guided: For self-guided online PSAT practice, the SAT prep materials from Khan Academy are definitely worth checking out. This online educational platform is completely free and is the only service to partner directly with the College Board, the makers of the PSAT and 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 self-guided video courses unless students have already exhausted the resources available for free from Khan Academy and the College Board.

Cornell University
Cornell University (Image Credit: Maeshima Hiroki Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

Next steps

Ready to begin PSAT tutoring? Schedule a 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.

It’s always best to start early and not wait until the last minute to prepare for the PSAT and SAT! Remember that test scores can be used to earn scholarships as well as college admission, so a few months of study now can pay off with up to $300,000 in tuition saved later. 

High-achieving students in particular will want to take the PSAT seriously, as it offers another opportunity to win big scholarship money through the National Merit program.

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


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15 Best ACT Tutoring Services for 2022 (75 Tutoring Services Reviewed)

Not sure which ACT tutoring service is the best? We conducted days of research and compared the top 75 tutoring services, created in-depth reviews for 15 of them, and narrowed them down to the 4 best that will help you increase your ACT scores.

What is the Best ACT Tutoring Service?

  1. PrepMaven – best ACT tutoring overall
  2. Princeton Review – best of the big test prep companies
  3. Wyzant – alternative for families on a budget
  4. Khan Academy – honorable mention for self-guided prep

The best of the rest:

  1. Kaplan – big test prep with high minimum purchase
  2. Prep Expert – budget rates with inexperienced tutors
  3. PrepScholar – overpriced tutoring with limited guarantee
  4. Tutoring Service of New York – new service with higher minimum package
  5. StudyPoint – corporate vibe with high minimum purchase
  6. Soflo Tutors – young service featuring memes
  7. Parker Academics – higher rates for outdated ACT tutoring
  8. LA Tutors – higher rates for less-qualified instructors
  9. Elite Ivy Tutors – pricey service with long sessions
  10. Summit Prep – less-qualified instructors
  11. Varsity Tutors – uneven quality, no extras
Stanford University
Stanford University (Image Credit: King of Hearts Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0)


Best ACT Tutoring Service in 2022

#1 - PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Best ACT Tutoring Overall

Price: $79–349/hour

It’s hard to beat PrepMaven for ACT tutoring!

PrepMaven has assembled an impressive team of Ivy-League tutors to provide one-on-one ACT tutoring. Most tutors are Princeton graduates with extensive teaching experience, and many of the tutors earned a perfect 36 on the ACT.

Founded by two brothers, both Princeton graduates passionate about education, PrepMaven offers more individualized learning experiences than bigger test prep companies. Tutors undergo a thorough training process that allows them to effectively teach students how to take advantage of the standardized nature of the test.

With a range of price points depending on tutor qualifications, families are able to find the right fit for their budget. Starting at $79/hour, families can work with current students at the most elite universities in the country. PrepMaven’s Master level provides one-on-one tutoring with Ivy-League graduates who have extensive teaching and test prep experience at just $149/hour — a lower price than other tutoring services, for more elite instructors. It’s also possible to work one-on-one with the very best tutors at $349/hr, and there is the opportunity to work directly with the founders of the company.

Recommended by US News, PrepMaven also provides free resources for the ACT and regularly shares insights garnered from connections with former admissions officers.

Best for:

PrepMaven’s one-on-one ACT tutoring is the best option for anyone looking for high-quality ACT prep.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $79–349/hour, depending on tutor qualifications
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League students and graduates (mostly from Princeton) with extensive teaching experience and top 1% test scores

What we like:

  • Experienced Ivy-League tutors, selected for their passion for education and working with students
  • Competitive pricing — rates are lower than other options for highly qualified tutors
  • Impressive client reviews — hundreds of 5-star reviews on Google and other independent review platforms
  • More individualized learning experience compared to large companies

Cornell University
Cornell University (Image Credit: Dantes De MonteCristo/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

#2 - Princeton Review

Our Verdict — Best of the Big Test Prep Companies

Price: $167–190/hour

The Princeton Review actually has no connection to Princeton University.

However, they’re still well-known in their own right as a large educational company, as well as the publishers of many test prep and college admissions guides.

Tutors with the Princeton Review receive extensive training. They are not required to be Ivy-League graduates or have scored highly themselves on standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, or GRE.

Best for:

  • Princeton Review is a good option for families who want to work with one of the largest test prep companies.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $167–190/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: trained instructors; no specific requirements for high ACT scores or top school

What we like:

  • Large, established test prep company

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualification requirements for tutors—although tutors have more extensive training than some other companies
Princeton University
Princeton University

#3 - 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 ACT tutors as low as $20 per hour. However, these tutors might not have any experience or training, and they may not have scored highly on the ACT themselves or graduated from a top school. Tutors with more qualifications may have much higher rates, as high as $600 per hour!

Best for:

  • Wyzant is a good option for families on a budget who are willing to find their own tutor and take a gamble on quality

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

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
University of Chicago
University of Chicago (Image Credit: Rick Seidel Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)

#4 - Khan Academy

Our Verdict — Honorable Mention for Free Self-Guided Test Prep

Price: $0

Khan Academy technically doesn’t belong on this list, since they don’t offer any live ACT tutoring, and they’re actually focused on the SAT, not the ACT. However, it’s such a fantastic resource that we’d be remiss not to mention it.

It’s hard to beat completely free test prep!

For motivated and organized students ready to work independently, Khan Academy has amazing content. A non-profit educational organization, Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board (the makers of the SAT) to provide free test prep that’s accessible to everyone.

And while we know the SAT and the ACT are not the same, they do share many similarities, and especially for the fundamentals the materials covered by the two tests have a lot of overlap.

Yes, the ACT does cover some math material that’s more advanced than what you’ll find on the SAT, and their math questions are a bit harder than the SAT’s math questions. However, it’s a great place to start before moving on to ACT-specific practice.

On Khan Academy, students create a profile with an SAT Dashboard that guides them through video lessons, quizzes, and practice questions with detailed explanations. Students focusing on the ACT can skip the full-length practice SAT tests.

Of course, this resource is quite limited as there’s no tutor or instructor to guide students, craft learning plans, and answer questions—and students will eventually want to learn ACT-specific content and strategies.

Best for:

  • Khan Academy’s SAT prep platform is a good starting place for students who want to practice some fundamentals for the ACT independently with just the test content, no strategy tips — and are willing to overlook the references to the SAT.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $0
  • Tutor qualifications: no instructor, but the materials are approved by the College Board

What we like:

  • Partnership with the College Board (makers of the SAT) means that materials are officially approved
  • Individual math concepts have particularly strong content, great for reviewing with short videos and then doing practice with instant feedback
  • It’s free!

What we don’t like:

  • Designed for the SAT, not the ACT — so while it’s a good starting place, students will want to practice ACT materials and strategies as well
  • Covers only test content, no strategy — and learning the test format and key strategies is an important component of test prep
  • Content is weaker for Reading and Writing sections, especially compared to their content for the Math sections
  • Self-guided platform means that students have to craft their own study plan and decide which areas to practice — and there’s no one to hold them accountable

ACT Tutoring Alternatives (that Didn’t Make the Cut)

#5 - Kaplan

Our Verdict — Big Test Prep with High Minimum Prices

Price: $115–200/hour, $1999 minimum package

Along with Princeton Review, Kaplan is one of the other large companies in the test prep space. Because of their size, their tutoring sessions have more of a corporate vibe.

They offer four tutoring packages of different sizes. Their minimum purchase is a package of 10 tutoring hours at $1999. This 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, but their tutor qualifications remain less rigorous than other options.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $1999 for 10 tutoring hours, $2899 for 20 tutoring hours, $3799 for 30 tutoring hours, or $4599 for 40 tutoring hours
  • Tutor qualifications: no specific qualifications

What we like:

  • Large, established test prep company

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors have no required qualifications
  • High minimum purchase of $1999 for 10 hours of tutoring

#6 - Prep Expert

Our Verdict — Budget Rates with Inexperienced Tutors

Price: $59–89/hour

Better known for their test prep group courses, Prep Expert also offers individual tutoring.

Their tutors are all top 1% scorers on the ACT themselves, which is a good background. However, the tutors may be inexperienced at tutoring and don’t benefit from training, so the quality of teaching may be uneven.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $59–89/hour; $89/hour for pay-as-you-go, $316 for 4 hours ($79/hour), $552 for 8 hours ($69/hour), or $944 for 16 hours ($59/hour); alternatively, the offer a tutoring subscription service: $299 for 4 hours each month, $499 for 8 hours each month, or $699 for unlimited hours each month
  • Tutor qualifications: top 1% scorers

What we like:

  • ACT tutors are top 1% scorers

What we don’t like:

  • Refund process is difficult and families have reported that the score increase guarantee may not be honored
  • Tutors don’t have training

#7 - PrepScholar

Our Verdict — Overpriced Tutoring with Limited Guarantee

Price: $130–249/hour, minimum $995 package

PrepScholar is another larger tutoring company that offers tutoring with top scorers.

A major promise that they make is their score increase guarantee of 4 points on the ACT after finishing their program. However, we found this promise a bit misleading—students who don’t manage to achieve the advertised score increase can claim a refund for only the value of their pre-recorded prep videos, which is $397. They can also request continued tutoring for the same number of hours that they originally purchased without additional cost. They can’t request a refund for the majoring of the tutoring cost!

We also noted that PrepScholar’s advertised hourly rate (of $50 per hour) is a bit disingenuous, since it relies on including the independent homework done by the student. Of course, any tutoring service can tutor for four hours at $250/hour, assign the student to practice and watch videos for 16 hours, and then claim that the hourly rate is $50/hour…but that hardly seems fair to clients.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $130–249/hour; $995 for “monitored prep” with 4 hours of tutoring ($249/hr), $1995 for 12 hours of tutoring ($166/hr), $2995 for 20 hours ($150/hr), or $6995 for 54 hours ($130/hr)
  • Tutor qualifications: top 1% scorers

What we like:

  • Tutors are top 1% scorers
  • Tutoring includes their “Automated Prep program”

What we don’t like:

  • More expensive than other options for comparable quality
  • No tutor bios or information about qualifications beyond high ACT scores
  • Disingenuous advertising that includes homework hours to calculate the hourly rate

#8 - 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 Tutoring Service of New York offers test prep and subject-area tutoring online. Most of their tutors are current graduate students, particularly at Columbia University and NYU.

At $1200, their minimum package for ACT tutoring is on the higher side.

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, some with Ivy-League backgrounds

What we don’t like:

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

#9 - StudyPoint

Our Verdict — Corporate Vibe with High Minimum Purchase

Price: $??/hour

StudyPoint is an older company with more of a corporate feel. They do not have any specific qualifications for their tutors, like scoring highly on the ACT themselves or graduating from an elite university.

Their main claim is their “guarantee.” This is only available for students who complete at least 30 tutoring hours with their program, which is a lot of tutoring! If students don’t improve their ACT scores after completing their Comprehensive Program, they offer 18 additional tutoring hours (not your money back).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $??/hour; Intensive Program with 60 tutoring hours, Comprehensive Program with 30 tutoring hours, Review Program with 18 tutoring hours (no score increase guarantee)
  • Tutor qualifications: no specific qualifications

What we like:

  • Additional 18 hours of tutoring if students complete at least 30 tutoring hours and don’t improve by 4 points on the ACT

What we don’t like:

  • High minimum purchase
  • No specific tutor qualifications
  • Limited score increase guarantee
  • Secretive about pricing — clients need to call to receive pricing information, which is not available online or via email

#10 - SoFlo Tutors

Our Verdict — Young Service Featuring Memes

Price: $60–90/hour

Founded by a 24-year-old in Southern Florida (hence their name), SoFlo is a newer company with a young team. They're more focused on the SAT, but have recently expanded to include some ACT tutoring as well.

Their tutors are top 1% scorers themselves and are current college students or recent graduates. We would have loved to see the bios of more of their tutors — they only provide six tutor bios on their website, and a few more in their brochure.

Their website has a younger feel, with a section devoted to SAT memes.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $60–90/hour; $90/hour for pay-as-you-go, $1500 for 20 hours ($75/hour), or $2400 for 40 hours ($60/hour)
  • Tutor qualifications: top 1% scorers from top schools

What we like:

  • Tutors are top 1% scorers and from top schools
  • Reasonable pricing

What we don’t like:

  • New company with young leadership, with less experience
  • No specific option to work with more experienced tutors who have graduated college
  • More focused on the SAT than on the ACT

#11 - Parker Academics

Our Verdict — Higher Rates for Outdated ACT Tutoring 

Price: $200/hour

Based in New York City, Parker Academics is a high-end tutoring service offering online ACT test prep. Like PrepMaven and Elite Ivy Tutors, their tutors are graduates of Ivy-League institutions, but their fees are higher.

Parker Academics is more focused on the SAT than the ACT. We also noted that their materials online are a little bit dated (this is especially evident for their SAT materials, since the SAT has undergone changes more recently).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $200/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League graduates

What we like:

  • Tutors are Ivy grads

What we don’t like:

  • More expensive than other options for comparable quality
  • More focused on the SAT than on the ACT
  • Website is not up-to-date

#12 - LA Tutors

Our Verdict — Higher Rates for Less-Qualified Tutors

Price: $145–185/hour

Based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, LA Tutors is a larger tutoring company. They offer limited “guaranteed results” for students who complete all tutoring sessions and homework, and take the ACT within a certain specified timeframe.

Their prices are on the higher side, but their tutors are not necessarily top scorers on the ACT themselves or graduates of elite universities.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $145–185/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors are mostly not from Ivy-Plus schools — tutors are primarily college graduates but not from the most elite institutions
  • Fees are high given the credentials of the tutors

#13 - Elite Ivy Tutors

Our Verdict — Pricey Service with Long Sessions

Price: $200–300/hour

Elite Ivy Tutors (EIT) is a small team offering tutoring from Ivy-League graduates. However, they do not publish crucial information about pricing and tutoring logistics, and we found them to be slow to respond to client emails.

Unique among the tutoring services we researched, EIT schedules sessions that are two or three hours long, rather than sixty or ninety minutes long. This length of time can be challenging for students.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $200/hour, or $300/hour to work directly with the company founder
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League graduates

What we like:

  • ACT tutors are Ivy grads

What we don’t like:

  • Website is confusing and lacks information
  • Long tutoring sessions of two or three hours at a time can be challenging for students
  • Higher prices than other tutoring services also offering the chance to work with Ivy-League grads

#14 - Summit Prep

Our Verdict — Less-qualified Tutors

Price: $130–155/hour

Summit Prep is a tutoring and admissions counseling company located in New Jersey. The majority of their tutors are not graduates of elite institutions, yet their fees are higher than services with comparable instructors.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $155/hour (reduced to $130/hour with 50-hour package)
  • Tutor qualifications: mostly college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing
  • ACT tutors are full-time instructors with more extensive training

What we don’t like:

  • Majority of tutors are not from Ivy-Plus schools — tutors are primarily college graduates but the majority of them are not from elite institutions

#15 - Varsity Tutors

Our Verdict — Uneven Quality Without Budget Pricing 

Price: $75–95/hour

A bit like Uber for tutoring, Varsity Tutors is an enormous tutoring platform offering online instruction in all academic subjects and test prep, including ACT prep.

However, its size has many downsides — most notably, very uneven quality of teaching. Tutors can be very quickly approved and are paid lower rates than nearly any other tutoring company (just $15 for sessions that cost families $95), so it’s difficult for them to attract and retain good talent.

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.

For families on a budget, we’d suggest the Standard Tutor option at PrepMaven (taught by Ivy-League students starting at $79/hour), Prep Expert ($59–89/hour), or SoFlo Tutors (taught by current students at $60–90/hour). If those options still don’t fit the budget, we’d recommend looking for an independent tutor on Wyzant (quality varies but you might find a decent tutor under $40/hour).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $75–95/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:

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

Yale University
Yale University (Image Credit: Flickr user m10229 Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)

Top 75 ACT Tutoring Services Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • Khan Academy
  • The Princeton Review
  • Kaplan
  • Prep Expert
  • PrepScholar
  • Peterson’s
  • Ivy Bound
  • College Prep Genius
  • Varsity Tutors
  • Sylvan
  • Green Test Prep
  • Higher Scores Test Prep
  • Excel Test Prep
  • Best in Class
  • CollegeVine
  • Prepare
  • College Drive
  • Love the SAT
  • Method Learning
  • SAT Blitz
  • The Answer Class
  • Trudeau Prep
  • Test Prep 4 Success
  • Private Prep
  • Manhattan Review
  • Olive Book
  • Veritas
  • Manhattan Elite Prep
  • Advantage Testing
  • New Summits
  • Parker Academics
  • LA Tutors
  • Summit Prep
  • Elite Ivy Tutors
  • Study Point
  • Huntington Learning Center
  • eTutorWorld
  • Manhattan Review
  • J & J Education
  • Boston Tutoring Services
  • Livius Prep
  • AJ Tutoring
  • Hack Your Course
  • Tiger Campus
  • Brains and Brawn
  • Bulldog Tutors
  • Denver Test Prep
  • Sexton Test Prep
  • First Choice College
  • Vint Hill Educational Services
  • Genesis Tutoring
  • Applerouth
  • Signet Education
  • Tutor Chase
  • Spires
  • Preply
  • TeacherOn
  • Socratic Summer Academy
  • MyGuru
  • Cates Tutoring
  • Kweller Prep
  • Krupnick Approach
  • Revolution Prep
  • Beyond the Test
  • Everest Tutoring
  • MathTowne
  • Gooroo
  • Bay Area Learning Center
  • McElroy Tutoring
  • Outschool
  • Leap2College
  • Tutor Corps
  • ClearPath Advantage
  • Cardinal Education
Harvard University
Harvard University

What is the ACT?

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

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

(Many schools have instituted a temporary test-optional policy as a response to Covid. However, based on the available data, students at competitive schools are still submitting test scores.)

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.

For students whose grades may have slipped during high school, test scores can also be used to show admissions officers your potential.

Finally, test scores are a handy tool for students to figure out where they might be a competitive applicant. Wondering if you have a chance at getting into Harvard? Not sure if University of Illinois is a reach school or a safety school for you? Test scores can help you there [link to other post].

Check out our other posts for more information about how the ACT is scored, when to take the ACT, and how the ACT is different from the SAT. We also have many free test prep resources. For more test prep guidance, schedule a call with Jessica or one of our founders today!

* 2.2 million students of the class of 2020 took the SAT, a record high. Due to Covid, this number dipped to 1.5 million for the class of 2021. (source: College Board)

Duke University
Duke University

Why work with a private ACT tutor?

You may want to consider working with an ACT tutor if:

  • You have no idea where to start in order to prepare for the ACT
  • You feel overwhelmed by all of the different ACT prep books and materials and don’t know which to choose
  • You have a hard time keeping yourself on track and want an external structure to hold you accountable
  • You’re not sure how to track your progress
  • You’ve been practicing on your own but your gains have plateaued
  • You have a limited amount of time and need to be efficient in your studying
  • You want to learn techniques for managing test anxiety
  • You want insider tips about test strategies
  • You want more individualized attention than you’d get in a prep class with other students
  • You want to learn efficiently, with each lesson tailored to your exact needs
  • You’re a high scorer who would be bored in a general prep class
  • You’re a lower scorer who would benefit from more focused help
  • You have specific gaps in your knowledge (e.g. missed a few months of geometry due to Covid, an injury, a family move, etc.) and need a tutor to teach this material

With our ACT students, we typically see students increase their scores by about 3–10 points after working with a tutor. These numbers might seem small, but that’s because for the ACT, every point counts. A score increase of 3 points can have a significant impact on college admissions.

Harvard University
Harvard University

What makes a good ACT tutor?

Like with any other test, it’s possible to improve your performance on the ACT with the right practice and preparation.

However, specific preparation for the ACT is usually not taught in schools, so students and families are on their own preparing for it.

Guidance with ACT prep comes in two main forms: group classes or individual tutoring. Many students combine the two, following an ACT group class with some one-on-one tutoring to focus on a tailored approach for that student’s strengths and weaknesses.

In this post, though, we focused on ACT individual tutoring.

These days, many tutoring sessions are online. This allows students to seek out the best tutor regardless of their physical location, which is great!

The most important aspect of a good ACT tutoring experience is the teacher. Tutoring sessions should be taught by experienced instructors who know the test inside and out and have helped many other students. The instructors should be people who scored highly on the test themselves, ideally in the top 1%

Classes should begin with a diagnostic test and a detailed score report to analyze a student’s starting point.

An ACT tutor can introduce the test format and de-mystify the test for students and families. A good tutor will make sure that students are using the best available resources for studying and practice.

Especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have had interruptions in their education, resulting in knowledge gaps that can cause difficulties on the ACT and for years to come. 

A perceptive tutor will find these gaps and help to fill them by teaching whatever material a student needs. Working one-on-one is unparalleled in its efficacy for remedying these interruptions in a student’s learning, since a tutor can notice these gaps much more easily than a teacher with a classroom full of students.

Whatever students are struggling with, a good tutor will spot those skill gaps and teach that material in an encouraging way.

Stanford University
Stanford University (Image Credit: Frank Schulenburg Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Managing test preparation and studying can also be stressful for family dynamics. Working with a tutor means that parents don’t have to be involved directly — the tutor can be the one to assign homework, establish holistic studying schedules, and track progress.

A good ACT tutor takes a lot of the stress out of the ACT process and makes sure students are practicing effectively. Tutors can provide students with study materials and guide students in using them correctly

Thorough ACT tutors can also help students to make a holistic study plan and keep them on track, so that parents don’t have to be involved directly. 

Effective ACT tutors will assign structured homework so that students can practice constructively with official test questions. There are a very limited number of official practice tests, so it’s important to make the most of them! 

Good ACT tutors will help students work through missed problems and answer students’ questions.

In addition, there are many strategies and tricks that can make the test easier. Unlike some self-directed courses and books, a good ACT tutor can share these tricks with students and guide them through implementing test strategies.

Finally, a great ACT tutor will be a cheerleader for the student. An experienced ACT tutor can help students to learn ways to manage test anxiety and learn key study strategies — both of which will be super valuable for the rest of their academic careers and beyond. 

A great ACT tutor will encourage their students and leave them feeling confident and ready for the ACT!

Princeton University
Princeton University


Summary

Best overall: PrepMaven’s one-on-one ACT tutoring 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.

Best of the big companies: 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.

Best on a budget: For families on a tighter budget, we’d suggest looking for an independent ACT 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 combine free resources like Khan Academy with a few hours of high-quality tutoring.

Best self-guided: For motivated and organized students ready to work independently, Khan Academy has amazing free content. They've developed a fantastic SAT prep platform, and while it's obviously for the wrong test, there's so much overlap between the SAT and the ACT that this material works well for laying foundations for the ACT. Eventually, students will want to brush up on ACT-specific material and strategies.

University of Chicago
University of Chicago (Image Credit: Nicomachian Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Next steps

Ready to begin ACT tutoring? Schedule a 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.

It’s always best to start early and not wait until the last minute to prepare for the ACT! Remember that test scores can be used to earn scholarships as well as college admission, so a few months of study now can pay off with up to $300,000 in tuition saved later. 

Students who achieve their goal score earlier on in high school can relax and not worry about testing at the end of their junior year (the most important year for grades, and when many students are focused on AP tests) or in the beginning of their senior year, when most students are working on college essays. 

To start one-on-one ACT tutoring today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.


Related articles

Average ACT Scores: The Latest Data
What’s a Good ACT Score for 2021? Our Data-Backed Answer
ACT Testing Accommodations
SAT vs ACT: Everything You Need to Know
Converting SAT to ACT Scores (and vice versa)
When should you take the SAT or ACT?
The ACT Format: Everything You Need to Know
14 Essential ACT Grammar Rules
Your Complete ACT Guide for 2021



15 Best Online SAT Tutoring Services for 2022 (75 Tutoring Services Reviewed)

Not sure which SAT online tutoring service is the best? We conducted days of research and compared the top 75 tutoring services, created in-depth reviews for 15 of them, and narrowed them down to the 4 best that will help you increase your SAT scores.

What is the Best Online SAT Tutoring?

  1. PrepMaven – best SAT tutoring overall
  2. Princeton Review – best of the big test prep companies
  3. Wyzant – alternative for families on a budget
  4. Khan Academy – honorable mention for self-guided SAT prep

The best of the rest:

  1. Kaplan – big test prep with high minimum purchase
  2. Prep Expert – budget rates with inexperienced tutors
  3. PrepScholar – overpriced tutoring with limited guarantee
  4. Tutoring Service of New York – new service with higher minimum package
  5. StudyPoint – corporate vibe with high minimum purchase
  6. Soflo Tutors – young service featuring memes
  7. Parker Academics – higher rates for outdated SAT tutoring
  8. LA Tutors – higher rates for less-qualified instructors
  9. Elite Ivy Tutors – pricey service with long sessions
  10. Summit Prep – less-qualified instructors
  11. Varsity Tutors – uneven quality, no extras
student studying for SAT with online tutor


Best SAT Online Tutoring in 2022

#1 - PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Best SAT Tutoring Overall

Price: $79–349/hour

It’s hard to beat PrepMaven for SAT tutoring!

PrepMaven has assembled an impressive team of Ivy-League tutors to provide one-on-one SAT tutoring. Most tutors are Princeton graduates with extensive teaching experience.

Founded by two brothers, both Princeton graduates passionate about education, PrepMaven offers more individualized learning experiences than bigger test prep companies. Tutors undergo a thorough training process that allows them to effectively teach students how to take advantage of the standardized nature of the test.

With a range of price points depending on tutor qualifications, families are able to find the right fit for their budget. Starting at $79/hour, families can work with current students at the most elite universities in the country. PrepMaven’s Master level provides one-on-one tutoring with Ivy-League graduates who have extensive teaching and test prep experience at just $149/hour — a lower price than other tutoring services, for more elite instructors. It’s also possible to work one-on-one with the very best tutors at $349/hr, and there is the opportunity to work directly with the founders of the company.

Recommended by US News, PrepMaven also provides free resources for the SAT and regularly shares insights garnered from connections with former admissions officers.

Best for:

PrepMaven’s one-on-one SAT tutoring is the best option for anyone looking for high-quality SAT prep.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $79–349/hour, depending on tutor qualifications
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League students and graduates (mostly from Princeton) with extensive teaching experience

What we like:

  • Experienced Ivy-League tutors, selected for their passion for education and working with students
  • Competitive pricing — rates are lower than other options for highly qualified tutors
  • Impressive client reviews — hundreds of 5-star reviews on Google and other independent review platforms
  • More individualized learning experience compared to large companies

Northwestern University
Northwestern University (Image Credit: Joseph Gage Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

#2 - Princeton Review

Our Verdict — Best of the Big Test Prep Companies

Price: $167–190/hour

The Princeton Review actually has no connection to Princeton University.

However, they’re still well-known in their own right as a large educational company, as well as the publishers of many test prep and college admissions guides.

Tutors with the Princeton Review receive extensive training. They are not required to be Ivy-League graduates or have scored highly themselves on standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, or GRE.

Best for:

  • Princeton Review is a good option for families who want to work with one of the largest test prep companies.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $167–190/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: trained instructors; no specific requirements for high SAT scores or top school

What we like:

  • Large, established test prep company

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualification requirements for tutors—although tutors have more extensive training than some other companies
Duke University
Duke University

#3 - 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 SAT tutors as low as $20 per hour. However, these tutors might not have any experience or training, and they may not have scored highly on the SAT themselves or graduated from a top school. Tutors with more qualifications may have much higher rates, as high as $600 per hour!

Best for:

  • Wyzant is a good option for families on a budget who are willing to find their own tutor and take a gamble on quality

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

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

#4 - Khan Academy

Our Verdict — Honorable Mention for Free Self-Guided SAT Prep

Price: $0

Khan Academy technically doesn’t belong on this list, since they don’t offer any live SAT tutoring. However, it’s such a fantastic resource that we’d be remiss not to mention it.

It’s hard to beat completely free, officially-approved SAT prep!

For motivated and organized students ready to work independently, Khan Academy has amazing content. A non-profit educational organization, Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board (the makers of the SAT) to provide free test prep that’s accessible to everyone. That means that apart from the official practice tests, Khan Academy’s materials are the only other materials officially approved by the College Board.

(Many companies will produce their own “practice tests” that mimic the test but are not official tests. All of the official tests are available for free online from the College Board or in the College Board SAT book.)

Students create a profile with a SAT Dashboard that guides them through video lessons, quizzes, practice questions with detailed explanations, and full-length practice tests.

Of course, this resource is quite limited as there’s no tutor or instructor to guide students, craft learning plans, and answer questions.

Best for:

  • Khan Academy’s SAT prep platform is the best option for anyone who wants to prep independently with just the test content, no strategy tips.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $0
  • Tutor qualifications: no instructor, but the materials are approved by the College Board

What we like:

  • Partnership with the College Board (makers of the SAT) means that materials are officially approved
  • Individual math concepts have particularly strong content, great for reviewing with short videos and then doing practice with instant feedback
  • It’s free!

What we don’t like:

  • Covers only test content, no strategy—and learning the test format and key strategies is an important component of test prep
  • Content is weaker for Reading and Writing sections, especially compared to their content for the Math sections
  • Self-guided platform means that students have to craft their own study plan and decide which areas to practice—and there’s no one to hold them accountable

SAT Tutoring Alternatives (that Didn’t Make the Cut)

#5 - Kaplan

Our Verdict — Big Test Prep with High Minimum Prices

Price: $115–200/hour, $1999 minimum package

Along with Princeton Review, Kaplan is one of the other large companies in the test prep space. Because of their size, their tutoring sessions have more of a corporate vibe.

They offer four tutoring packages of different sizes. Their minimum purchase is a package of 10 tutoring hours at $1999. This 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, but their tutor qualifications remain less rigorous than other options.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $1999 for 10 tutoring hours, $2899 for 20 tutoring hours, $3799 for 30 tutoring hours, or $4599 for 40 tutoring hours
  • Tutor qualifications: no specific qualifications

What we like:

  • Large, established test prep company

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors have no required qualifications
  • You don’t know who the tutor will be
  • High minimum purchase of $1999 for 10 hours of tutoring

#6 - Prep Expert

Our Verdict — Budget Rates with Inexperienced Tutors

Price: $59–89/hour

Better known for their SAT prep group courses, Prep Expert also offers individual tutoring.

Their tutors are all top 1% scorers on the SAT themselves, which is a good background. However, the tutors may be inexperienced at tutoring and don’t benefit from training, so the quality of teaching may be uneven.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $59–89/hour; $89/hour for pay-as-you-go, $316 for 4 hours ($79/hour), $552 for 8 hours ($69/hour), or $944 for 16 hours ($59/hour); alternatively, the offer a tutoring subscription service: $299 for 4 hours each month, $499 for 8 hours each month, or $699 for unlimited hours each month
  • Tutor qualifications: top 1% scorers

What we like:

  • SAT tutors are top 1% scorers

What we don’t like:

  • Refund process is difficult and families have reported that the score increase guarantee may not be honored
  • Tutors don’t have training

#7 - PrepScholar

Our Verdict: Overpriced Tutoring with Limited Guarantee

Price: $130–249/hour, minimum $995 package

PrepScholar is another larger tutoring company that offers tutoring with top scorers.

A major promise that they make is their score increase guarantee of 160 points on the SAT after finishing their program. However, we found this promise a bit misleading—students who don’t manage to achieve the advertised score increase can claim a refund for only the value of their pre-recorded prep videos, which is $397. They can also request continued tutoring for the same number of hours that they originally purchased without additional cost. They can’t request a refund for the majoring of the tutoring cost!

We also noted that PrepScholar’s advertised hourly rate (of $50 per hour) is a bit disingenuous, since it relies on including the independent homework done by the student. Of course, any tutoring service can tutor for four hours at $250/hour, assign the student to practice and watch videos for 16 hours, and then claim that the hourly rate is $50/hour…but that hardly seems fair to clients.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $130–249/hour; $995 for “monitored prep” with 4 hours of tutoring ($249/hr), $1995 for 12 hours of tutoring ($166/hr), $2995 for 20 hours ($150/hr), or $6995 for 54 hours ($130/hr)
  • Tutor qualifications: top 1% scorers

What we like:

  • Tutors are top 1% scorers
  • Tutoring includes their “Automated Prep program”

What we don’t like:

  • More expensive than other options for comparable quality
  • No tutor bios or information about qualifications beyond high SAT scores
  • Disingenuous advertising that includes homework hours to calculate the hourly rate

#8 - 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 Tutoring Service of New York offers test prep and subject-area tutoring online. Most of their tutors are current graduate students, particularly at Columbia University and NYU.

At $1200, their minimum package for SAT tutoring is on the higher side.

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, some with Ivy-League backgrounds

What we don’t like:

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

#9 - StudyPoint

Our Verdict — Corporate Vibe with High Minimum Purchase

Price: $??/hour

StudyPoint is an older company with more of a corporate feel. They do not have any specific qualifications for their tutors, like scoring highly on the SAT themselves or graduating from an elite university.

Their main claim is their “guarantee.” This is only available for students who complete at least 30 tutoring hours with their program, which is a lot of tutoring! If students don’t improve their SAT scores after completing their Comprehensive Program, they offer 18 additional tutoring hours (not your money back).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $??/hour; Intensive Program with 60 tutoring hours, Comprehensive Program with 30 tutoring hours, Review Program with 18 tutoring hours (no score increase guarantee)
  • Tutor qualifications: no specific qualifications

What we like:

  • Additional 18 hours of tutoring if students complete at least 30 tutoring hours and don’t improve by 140 points on the SAT (guarantee raises to 220 points if students complete 60 tutoring hours)

What we don’t like:

  • High minimum purchase
  • No specific tutor qualifications
  • Limited score increase guarantee
  • Secretive about pricing — clients need to call to receive pricing information, which is not available online or via email

#10 - SoFlo Tutors

Our Verdict — Young Service Featuring Memes

Price: $60–90/hour

Founded by a 24-year-old in Southern Florida (hence their name), SoFlo is a newer company with a young team.

Their tutors are top 1% scorers themselves and are current college students or recent graduates. We would have loved to see the bios of more of their tutors — they only provide six tutor bios on their website, and a few more in their brochure.

Their website has a younger feel, with a section devoted to SAT memes.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $60–90/hour; $90/hour for pay-as-you-go, $1500 for 20 hours ($75/hour), or $2400 for 40 hours ($60/hour)
  • Tutor qualifications: top 1% scorers from top schools

What we like:

  • SAT tutors are top 1% scorers and from top schools
  • Reasonable pricing

What we don’t like:

  • New company with young leadership, with less experience
  • No specific option to work with more experienced tutors who have graduated college

#11 - Parker Academics

Our Verdict — Higher Rates for Outdated SAT Tutoring 

Price: $200/hour

Based in New York City, Parker Academics is a high-end tutoring service offering online SAT test prep. Like PrepMaven and Elite Ivy Tutors, their tutors are graduates of Ivy-League institutions, but their fees are higher.

We noted that their materials online for the SAT are outdated, and appear as if they were created shortly after the last significant change to the SAT in 2016. However, the SAT no longer includes an Essay, and the test is about to undergo a major change in 2023 and 2024, so it’s especially important to work with a SAT tutoring service that’s aware of the latest updates to the test.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $200/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League graduates

What we like:

  • SAT tutors are Ivy grads

What we don’t like:

  • More expensive than other options for comparable quality
  • Website is not up-to-date

#12 - LA Tutors

Our Verdict — Higher Rates for Less-Qualified Tutors

Price: $145–185/hour

Based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, LA Tutors is a larger tutoring company. They offer limited “guaranteed results” for students who complete all tutoring sessions and homework, and take the SAT within a certain specified timeframe.

Their prices are on the higher side, but their tutors are not necessarily top scorers on the SAT themselves or graduates of elite universities.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $145–185/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors are mostly not from Ivy-Plus schools — tutors are primarily college graduates but not from the most elite institutions
  • Fees are high given the credentials of the tutors

#13 - Elite Ivy Tutors

Our Verdict — Pricey Service with Long Sessions

Price: $200–300/hour

Elite Ivy Tutors (EIT) is a small team offering tutoring from Ivy-League graduates. However, they do not publish crucial information about pricing and tutoring logistics, and we found them to be slow to respond to client emails.

Unique among the tutoring services we researched, EIT schedules sessions that are two or three hours long, rather than sixty or ninety minutes long. This length of time can be challenging for students.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $200/hour, or $300/hour to work directly with the company founder
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League graduates

What we like:

  • SAT tutors are Ivy grads

What we don’t like:

  • Website is confusing and lacks information
  • Long tutoring sessions of two or three hours at a time can be challenging for students
  • Higher prices than other tutoring services also offering the chance to work with Ivy-League grads

#14 - Summit Prep

Our Verdict — Less-qualified Tutors

Price: $130–155/hour

Summit Prep is a tutoring and admissions counseling company located in New Jersey. The majority of their tutors are not graduates of elite institutions, yet their fees are higher than services with comparable instructors.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $155/hour (reduced to $130/hour with 50-hour package)
  • Tutor qualifications: mostly college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing
  • SAT tutors are full-time instructors with more extensive training

What we don’t like:

  • Majority of tutors are not from Ivy-Plus schools — tutors are primarily college graduates but the majority of them are not from elite institutions

#15 - Varsity Tutors

Our Verdict — Uneven Quality Without Budget Pricing 

Price: $75–95/hour

A bit like Uber for tutoring, Varsity Tutors is an enormous tutoring platform offering online instruction in all academic subjects and test prep, including SAT prep.

However, its size has many downsides — most notably, very uneven quality of teaching. Tutors can be very quickly approved and are paid lower rates than nearly any other tutoring company (just $15 for sessions that cost families $95), so it’s difficult for them to attract and retain good talent.

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.

For families on a budget, we’d suggest the Standard Tutor option at PrepMaven (Ivy-League students starting at $79/hour), Prep Expert ($59–89/hour), or SoFlo Tutors (current students at $60–90/hour). If those options still don’t fit the budget, we’d recommend looking for an independent tutor on Wyzant (quality varies but you might find a decent tutor under $40/hour).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $75–95/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:

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

student studying for SAT with online tutor

Top 75 SAT Online Tutoring Services Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • Khan Academy
  • The Princeton Review
  • Kaplan
  • Prep Expert
  • PrepScholar
  • Peterson’s
  • Ivy Bound
  • College Prep Genius
  • Varsity Tutors
  • Sylvan
  • Green Test Prep
  • Higher Scores Test Prep
  • Excel Test Prep
  • Best in Class
  • CollegeVine
  • Prepare
  • College Drive
  • Love the SAT
  • Method Learning
  • SAT Blitz
  • The Answer Class
  • Trudeau Prep
  • Test Prep 4 Success
  • Private Prep
  • Manhattan Review
  • Olive Book
  • Veritas
  • Manhattan Elite Prep
  • Advantage Testing
  • New Summits
  • Parker Academics
  • LA Tutors
  • Summit Prep
  • Elite Ivy Tutors
  • Study Point
  • Huntington Learning Center
  • eTutorWorld
  • Manhattan Review
  • J & J Education
  • Boston Tutoring Services
  • Livius Prep
  • AJ Tutoring
  • Hack Your Course
  • Tiger Campus
  • Brains and Brawn
  • Bulldog Tutors
  • Denver Test Prep
  • Sexton Test Prep
  • First Choice College
  • Vint Hill Educational Services
  • Genesis Tutoring
  • Applerouth
  • Signet Education
  • Tutor Chase
  • Spires
  • Preply
  • TeacherOn
  • Socratic Summer Academy
  • MyGuru
  • Cates Tutoring
  • Kweller Prep
  • Krupnick Approach
  • Revolution Prep
  • Beyond the Test
  • Everest Tutoring
  • MathTowne
  • Gooroo
  • Bay Area Learning Center
  • McElroy Tutoring
  • Outschool
  • Leap2College
  • Tutor Corps
  • ClearPath Advantage
  • Cardinal Education
Harvard University
Harvard University

What is the SAT?

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 schools have instituted a temporary test-optional policy as a response to Covid. However, based on the available data, students at competitive schools are still submitting test scores.)

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.

For students whose grades may have slipped during high school, test scores can also be used to show admissions officers your potential.

Finally, test scores are a handy tool for students to figure out where they might be a competitive applicant. Wondering if you have a chance at getting into Harvard? Not sure if University of Illinois is a reach school or a safety school for you? Test scores can help you there.

Check out our other posts for more information about how the SAT is scored, when to take the SAT, and how the SAT is different from the SAT. We also have many free test prep resources. For more test prep guidance, schedule a call with Jessica or one of our founders today!

* 2.2 million students of the class of 2020 took the SAT, a record high. Due to Covid, this number dipped to 1.5 million for the class of 2021. (source: College Board)

quad at Stanford
Stanford University

Why work with a private SAT tutor?

You may want to consider working with an SAT tutor if:

  • You have no idea where to start in order to prepare for the SAT
  • You feel overwhelmed by all of the different SAT prep books and materials and don’t know which to choose
  • You have a hard time keeping yourself on track and want an external structure to hold you accountable
  • You’re not sure how to track your progress
  • You’ve been practicing on your own but your gains have plateaued
  • You have a limited amount of time and need to be efficient in your studying
  • You want to learn techniques for managing test anxiety
  • You want insider tips about test strategies
  • You want more individualized attention than you’d get in a prep class with other students
  • You want to learn efficiently, with each lesson tailored to your exact needs
  • You’re a high scorer who would be bored in a general prep class
  • You’re a lower scorer who would benefit from more focused help
  • You have specific gaps in your knowledge (e.g. missed a few months of geometry due to Covid, an injury, a family move, etc.) and need a tutor to teach this material

With our SAT students, we typically see students increase their scores by about 100–300 points after working with a tutor. This can have a significant impact on college admissions.

University of Chicago
University of Chicago

What makes a good SAT tutor?

Like with any other test, it’s possible to improve your performance on the SAT with the right practice and preparation.

However, specific preparation for the SAT is usually not taught in schools, so students and families are on their own preparing for it.

Guidance with SAT prep comes in two main forms: group classes or individual tutoring. Many students combine the two, following an SAT group class with some one-on-one tutoring to focus on a tailored approach for that student’s strengths and weaknesses.

In this post, though, we focused on SAT individual tutoring.

These days, many tutoring sessions are online. This allows students to seek out the best tutor regardless of their physical location, which is great!

The most important aspect of a good SAT tutoring experience is the teacher. Tutoring sessions should be taught by experienced instructors who know the test inside and out and have helped many other students. The instructors should be people who scored highly on the test themselves, ideally in the top 1%

Classes should begin with a diagnostic test and a detailed score report to analyze a student’s starting point.

An SAT tutor can introduce the test format and de-mystify the test for students and families. A good tutor will make sure that students are using the best available resources for studying and practice.

Especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have had interruptions in their education, resulting in knowledge gaps that can cause difficulties on the SAT and for years to come. 

A perceptive tutor will find these gaps and help to fill them by teaching whatever material a student needs. Working one-on-one is unparalleled in its efficacy for remedying these interruptions in a student’s learning, since a tutor can notice these gaps much more easily than a teacher with a classroom full of students.

Whatever students are struggling with, a good tutor will spot those skill gaps and teach that material in an encouraging way.

Princeton University
Princeton University

Managing test preparation and studying can also be stressful for family dynamics. Working with a tutor means that parents don’t have to be involved directly — the tutor can be the one to assign homework, establish holistic studying schedules, and track progress.

A good SAT tutor takes a lot of the stress out of the SAT process and makes sure students are practicing effectively. Tutors can provide students with study materials and guide students in using them correctly

Thorough SAT tutors can also help students to make a holistic study plan and keep them on track, so that parents don’t have to be involved directly. 

Effective SAT tutors will assign structured homework so that students can practice constructively with official test questions. There are a very limited number of official practice tests, so it’s important to make the most of them! 

Good SAT tutors will help students work through missed problems and answer students’ questions.

In addition, there are many strategies and tricks that can make the test easier. Unlike some self-directed courses and books, a good SAT tutor can share these tricks with students and guide them through implementing test strategies.

Finally, a great SAT tutor will be a cheerleader for the student. An experienced SAT tutor can help students to learn ways to manage test anxiety and learn key study strategies — both of which will be super valuable for the rest of their academic careers and beyond. 

A great SAT tutor will encourage their students and leave them feeling confident and ready for the SAT!

Yale University
Yale University


Summary

Best overall: PrepMaven’s one-on-one SAT tutoring 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.

Best of the big companies: 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.

Best 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 combine free resources like Khan Academy and the free practice materials available from the College Board with a few hours of high-quality tutoring.

Best self-guided: For self-guided online SAT practice, it doesn’t get much better than 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 self-guided courses unless students have already exhausted the resources available for free from Khan Academy and the College Board.

gate at Stanford
Stanford University

Next steps

Ready to begin SAT tutoring? Schedule a 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.

It’s always best to start early and not wait until the last minute to prepare for the SAT! Remember that test scores can be used to earn scholarships as well as college admission, so a few months of study now can pay off with up to $300,000 in tuition saved later. 

Students who achieve their goal score earlier on in high school can relax and not worry about testing at the end of their junior year (the most important year for grades, and when many students are focused on AP tests) or in the beginning of their senior year, when most students are working on college essays. 

High-achieving students will also want to take the PSAT seriously, as it offers another opportunity to win big scholarship money through the National Merit program.

To start one-on-one SAT tutoring today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.


Related articles

The 12 Best SAT Prep Courses for 2022 (32 Courses Reviewed)
Average SAT Scores: The Latest Data
Hardest SAT Math Problems
13 SAT Grammar Rules You Need to Know
SAT vs ACT: Everything You Need to Know
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



13 Best SSAT Tutoring Services for 2022 (36 Services Reviewed)

Not sure which SSAT tutoring service is the best? We compared the top 36 services, created in-depth reviews for 13 of them, and narrowed them down to the 5 best that will help students increase their SSAT scores.

What is the Best SSAT Prep Course?

  1. PrepMaven – best SSAT tutoring overall
  2. EMA – best official SSAT practice
  3. Princeton Review – best of the big test prep companies
  4. Go Student – best on a budget
  5. Test Innovators – best for self-guided SSAT prep

The best of the rest:

  1. Parker Academics – higher rates for online SSAT tutoring
  2. LA Tutors – higher rates for less-qualified instructors
  3. Summit Prep – less-qualified instructors
  4. Elite Ivy Tutors – pricey service with long sessions
  5. Tutoring Service of New York – new service with higher minimum package
  6. Varsity Tutors – uneven quality without budget pricing
  7. Kaplan – self-directed SSAT and ISEE combo
  8. ePrep – limited self-directed SSAT prep
backpack for students studying for the SSAT


Best SSAT Prep Courses in 2022

#1 - PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Best SSAT Tutoring Overall

Price: $79–349/hour

It’s hard to beat PrepMaven for SSAT tutoring!

PrepMaven has assembled an impressive team of Ivy-League tutors to provide one-on-one SSAT tutoring. Most tutors are Princeton graduates with extensive teaching experience.

Founded by two brothers, both Princeton graduates passionate about education, PrepMaven offers more individualized learning experiences than bigger test prep companies.

With a range of price points depending on tutor qualifications, families are able to find the right fit for their budget. Starting at $79/hour, families can work with current students at the most elite universities in the country. PrepMaven’s Master level provides one-on-one tutoring with Ivy-League graduates who have extensive teaching and test prep experience at just $149/hour — a lower price than other tutoring services, for more elite instructors. It’s also possible to work one-on-one with the very best tutors at $349/hr, and there is the opportunity to work directly with the founders of the company.

Recommended by US News, PrepMaven also provides free resources for the SSAT and regularly shares insights garnered from connections with teachers and administrators at some of the nation’s top prep schools.

Best for:

PrepMaven’s one-on-one SSAT tutoring is the best option for anyone looking for high-quality SSAT prep.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $79–349/hour, depending on tutor qualifications
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League students and graduates (mostly from Princeton) with extensive teaching experience

What we like:

  • Experienced Ivy-League tutors, selected for their passion for education and working with students
  • Competitive pricing — rates are lower than other options for highly qualified tutors
  • Impressive client reviews — hundreds of 5-star reviews on Google and other independent review platforms
  • More individualized learning experience compared to large companies

Phillips Exeter Academy (NH)
Phillips Exeter Academy (Image Credit: Transmarinus Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

#2 - EMA (SSAT.org)

Our Verdict — Best Official SSAT Practice

Price: $80 for book or online access (free with fee waiver)

Unlike the makers of the SAT, who have published free practice tests and practice questions online, the makers of the SSAT do not make practice tests and example questions free to access.

Instead, students who want to practice taking the SSAT (an essential part of test prep) need to pay for either a book or an online account from EMA (The Enrollment Management Association, the makers of the test) at SSAT.org (The online access is free for students who qualify for a test fee waiver once they have enrolled for a test date.)

The book and the online platform contain the same four official practice SSAT tests. The online platform also has video content, quizzes, and additional exercises.

Best for:

Students who want access to the official practice SSAT tests. Most tutors will recommend that students purchase the book and/or online access in addition to tutoring.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $80 for book or online access (free with fee waiver)

What we like:

  • The only official practice for the SSAT

What we don’t like:

  • Only four full practice tests
Portsmouth Abbey School (RI)
Portsmouth Abbey School (Image Credit: Acody17 Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

#3 - The Princeton Review

Our Verdict — Best of the Big Prep Companies

Price: $167–190/hour

The Princeton Review actually has no connection to Princeton University.

However, they’re still well-known in their own right as a large educational company, as well as the publishers of many test prep and college admissions guides.

The Princeton Review provides a deep set of practice materials, including 140 hours of additional video lessons to review individual concepts.

Teachers with the Princeton Review receive extensive training. They are not required to be Ivy-League graduates or have scored highly themselves.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $167–190/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: trained instructors

What we like:

  • Large, established test prep company

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualification requirements for tutors—although tutors have more extensive training than some other companies

#4 - Go Student

Our Verdict — Best on a Budget

Price: $48–60/hour

At fees as low as $40 per 50-minute session, Go Student has the most accessible pricing of any reputable SSAT tutoring service. This makes it a much better deal than a tutoring service like Varsity Tutors, which costs $75–90 for a comparable quality of instruction.

However, Go Student’s tutors do not have any specific educational background, teaching experience, or training. The platform does not provide tutors with training, teaching materials, or curriculum, so quality of instruction is quite uneven. We’d also suggest that families consider working with a Standard Tutor at PrepMaven, where fees start at $79/hour for Ivy-League tutors.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $48–60/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: high school graduates

What we like:

  • Larger test prep platform

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualification requirements for tutors—no teaching experience, test scores, or college degree required
  • Tutoring sessions are short, at just 50 minutes

#5 - Test Innovators

Our Verdict — Best for Self-Directed Test Prep

Price: $79–149 for Lower Level SSAT; $79–399 for Middle Level or Upper Level SSAT

For motivated and organized students ready to work independently, Test Innovators provides good practice materials and exercises beyond the four tests available from EMA at SSAT.org.

Students can either purchase a single practice test or a set of practice tests and exercises. For students in grades 8–11 preparing for the upper SSAT, there is also a self-directed video course.

At a glance:

  • Cost: For Lower Level SSAT, pricing is $79 (1 practice test) – $149 (3 practice tests + practice exercises); for Middle Level SSAT, pricing is $79 – $399 (6 practice tests, video course, practice exercises); for Upper Level SSAT, pricing is $79 – $399 (6 practice tests, video course, practice exercises)

What we like:

  • Larger test prep platform
  • Slick, visually-appealing dashboard to track learning progress

What we don’t like:

  • Covers only test content, no strategy—and learning the test format and key strategies is an important component of test prep
  • Self-guided platform means that students have to craft their own study plan and decide which areas to practice—and there’s no one to hold them accountable

SAT Tutoring Alternatives (that Didn’t Make the Cut)

#6 - Parker Academics

Our Verdict — Higher rates for online SSAT tutoring

Price: $200/hour

Based in New York City, Parker Academics is a high-end tutoring service offering online SSAT test prep.

Like PrepMaven and the now-defunct Ivy Global, their tutors are graduates of Ivy-League institutions, but their fees are higher.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $200/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: Ivy-League graduates

What we like:

  • SSAT tutors are Ivy grads

What we don’t like:

  • More expensive than other options for comparable quality
  • Website is not up-to-date

#7 - LA Tutors

Our Verdict: Higher rates for less-qualified instructors

Price: $145–185/hour

Based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, LA Tutors is a larger tutoring company. 

At a glance:

  • Cost: $145–185/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing

What we don’t like:

  • Tutors are mostly not from Ivy-Plus schools — tutors are primarily college graduates but not from the most elite institutions
  • Fees are high given the credentials of the tutors
  • They focus more on a different prep school entrance exam, the ISEE, than the SSAT

#8 - Summit Prep

Our Verdict — Less-qualified instructors

Price: $100–155/hour, depending on grade level

Summit Prep is a tutoring and admissions counseling company located in New Jersey. The majority of their tutors are not graduates of elite institutions and do not have specific training in test prep, yet their fees are higher than services with comparable instructors.

At a glance:

  • Cost: Lower- and middle-level: $125/hour (down to $100/hour with 50-hour package); Upper-level: $155/hour (down to $130/hour with 50-hour package)
  • Tutor qualifications: mostly college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing

What we don’t like:

  • Majority of tutors are not from elite schools — tutors are primarily college graduates but the majority of them are not from Ivy-Plus institutions

#9 - Elite Ivy Tutors

Our Verdict — Pricey service with long sessions

Cost: $200–300/hour

Elite Ivy Tutors (EIT) is a small team offering tutoring from Ivy-League graduates. However, they do not publish crucial information about pricing and tutoring logistics, and we found them to be slow to respond to client emails.

Unique among the tutoring services we researched, EIT schedules sessions that are a minimum of two or three hours long, rather than sixty or ninety minutes long. This length of time can be challenging, especially for younger students preparing for the SSAT.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $200/hour, or $300/hour to work directly with the company founder
  • Tutor qualifications:  Ivy-League graduates

What we like:

  • SSAT tutors are Ivy grads

What we don’t like:

  • Website is confusing and lacks information
  • Long tutoring sessions of two or three hours at a time are challenging for young students
  • Higher prices than other tutoring services also offering the chance to work with Ivy-League grads

#10 - 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 Tutoring Service of New York offers test prep and subject-area tutoring online. Most of their tutors are current graduate students, particularly at Columbia University and NYU.

At $1200, their minimum package for SSAT tutoring is on the higher side.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $1200 for 5 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 Ivy-League backgrounds

What we don’t like:

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

#11 - Varsity Tutors

Our Verdict — Uneven quality without budget pricing 
Price: $75–95/hour

A bit like Uber for tutoring, Varsity Tutors is an enormous tutoring platform offering online instruction in all academic subjects and test prep, including SSAT prep.

However, its size has many downsides — most notably, very uneven quality of teaching. Tutors can be very quickly approved and are paid lower rates than nearly any other tutoring company (just $15 for sessions that cost families $95), so it’s difficult for them to attract and retain good talent.

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.

For families on a budget, we’d suggest either Go Student (similar large platform but with pricing starting at $48/hour) or the Standard Tutor option at PrepMaven (Ivy-League students starting at $79/hour).

At a glance:

  • Cost: $75–95/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:

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

#12 - Kaplan

Our Verdict — Self-Directed SSAT and ISEE Combo

Price: $299

One of the giants of the test prep industry, Kaplan provides a self-directed class to help students prepare for both the SSAT and the ISEE.

The combination of both tests in one course might be an advantage for students who plan to take both the SSAT and the ISEE, both of which are used to apply to prep schools in the US. Wondering what the difference is between the two tests, or which is preferred by a certain school? Check out our discussion here [link].

The online course is entirely self-directed and is best suited for students who are motivated, organized, and able to manage their own learning schedule. It includes asynchronous video instruction, quizzes, and four practice tests for each exam.

However, the combination of both tests may be confusing for many students who plan to take only one of the tests. For that reason, we prefer the self-directed platform from Test Innovators.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $299

What we like:

  • Larger test prep platform
  • Combination SSAT and ISEE may be convenient for students preparing for both tests

What we don’t like:

  • Covers only test content, no strategy—and learning the test format and key strategies is an important component of test prep
  • Self-guided platform means that students have to craft their own study plan and decide which areas to practice—and there’s no one to hold them accountable
  • Combination SSAT and ISEE may be confusing for students and unnecessary for those preparing for only one of the tests

#13 - ePrep

Our Verdict — Limited Self-Directed Test Prep

Price: $249

For motivated and organized students ready to work independently to prepare for either the Middle Level or Upper Level SSAT, ePrep provides another self-directed alternative to Test Innovators or Kaplan.

Each online course includes 3 practice tests and video explanations of each test question. There aren’t any general introductions to the SSAT test structure or format, and there aren’t videos teaching the content covered by the test. For this reason, ePrep’s course is fine for students wanting even more practice, but it’s less comprehensive than other options. 

The online prep offered by ePrep does not cover the Lower Level SSAT for younger students.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $249

What we like:

  • Video answers to questions are great for students reviewing their practice tests

What we don’t like:

  • Reviews only individual test questions, no general content or strategy—which makes it much less comprehensive than other options
  • Self-guided platform means that students have to craft their own study plan and decide which areas to practice—and there’s no one to hold them accountable
  • No Lower Level SSAT course for younger students (applying to grades 4 and 5)

Phillips Exeter Academy (NH)
Phillips Exeter Academy (Image Credit: Gunnar Klack Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Top 36 SAT Prep Courses Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • Enrollment Management Association (SSAT.org)
  • Princeton Review
  • Go Student
  • Test Innovators
  • New Summits
  • Ivy Global
  • Parker Academics
  • LA Tutors
  • Summit Prep
  • Elite Ivy Tutors
  • Varsity Tutors
  • Kaplan
  • ePrep
  • Tutoring Service of New York
  • PrivateSchoolExam
  • SSATTutor.com
  • Manhattan Elite Prep
  • Advantage Testing
  • Study Point
  • Huntington Learning Center
  • eTutorWorld
  • Boston Tutoring Services
  • Livius Prep
  • AJ Tutoring
  • Hack Your Course
  • Tiger Campus
  • Brains and Brawn
  • Bulldog Tutors
  • Denver Test Prep
  • Sexton Test Prep
  • First Choice College
  • Vint Hill Educational Services
  • Advantage Testing
  • Genesis Tutoring
  • Applerouth
  • Signet Education
Collegiate School (New York City)
Collegiate School (Image Credit: Ajay Suresh Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)

What is the SSAT?

The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) is an important part of secondary school applications. If you’re applying to private schools in the U.S., you’ll likely have to submit SSAT scores as part of the admissions process.

The SSAT is administered by a private company, the Enrollment Management Association (EMA). There are three different versions of the test, depending on the grade level of the student:

  • Elementary Level (also known as Lower Level) for students currently in grades 3 and 4
  • Middle Level for students currently in grades 5-8 
  • Upper Level for students currently in grades 8-11 

The three different SSAT levels are designed to test material appropriate for each student’s respective grade level. The test is about three hours long and is available throughout the year. 

Families can choose between three different testing modes — paper, Prometric, and SSAT at Home — with fee waivers and accommodations designed to make the SSAT accessible to as many students as possible.

Regardless of the level, the four sections of the SSAT are always the same: Quantitative, Reading, and Verbal multiple-choice sections, along with a Writing Sample. Read more about what’s on the SSAT here.

The SSAT has been an important part of private school admissions since 1957. Similar to the way that colleges use the SAT or ACT, the SSAT (along with the ISEE [link]) is a standardized admissions test that allows private schools to gather more insight into a student’s current level of academic preparation. 

Most private school admissions teams focus on the percentile ranking of students, which indicates how a student compares to other students taking the test at their grade level.

Learn more about the SSAT here.

St. Paul's School (NH)
St. Paul's School (Image Credit: Nikhil.vootkur Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Why work with an SSAT tutor?

Like with any other test, it’s possible to improve your SSAT with the right practice and preparation.

However, preparation for the SSAT is not taught in schools, so students and families are on their own preparing for it.

A good SSAT tutor takes a lot of the stress out of this process and makes sure students are practicing effectively.

An SSAT tutor can introduce the test format and de-mystify the test for students and families. A good tutor will make sure that students are using the best available resources for studying and practice.

Especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have had interruptions in their education, resulting in knowledge gaps that can cause difficulties on the SSAT and for years to come. 

A perceptive tutor will find these gaps and help to fill them by teaching whatever material a student needs. Working one-on-one is unparalleled in its efficacy for remedying these interruptions in a student’s learning, since a tutor can notice these gaps much more easily than a teacher with a classroom full of students.

Whatever students are struggling with, a good tutor will spot those skill gaps and teach that material in an encouraging way.

Dalton School (NY)
Dalton School (Image Credit: Diego Dacal Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

Managing test preparation and studying can also be stressful for family dynamics. Working with a tutor means that parents don’t have to be involved directly — the tutor can be the one to assign homework, establish holistic studying schedules, and track progress.

Tutors can provide students with study materials and guide students in using them effectively

Effective SSAT tutors will assign structured homework so that students can practice constructively with official test questions. There are a very limited number of official practice tests, so it’s important to make the most of them! 

Good SSAT tutors will help students work through missed problems and answer students’ questions.

In addition, there are many strategies and tricks that can make the test easier. Unlike some self-directed courses and books, a good SSAT tutor can share these tricks with students and guide them through implementing test strategies.

Finally, a great SSAT tutor will be a cheerleader for the student. An experienced SSAT tutor can help students to learn ways to manage test anxiety and learn key study strategies — both of which will be super valuable for the rest of their academic careers and beyond. 
A great SSAT tutor will encourage their students and leave them feeling confident and ready for the SSAT!

Peddie School (NJ)
Peddie School (Image Credit: Peddie School Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)


Summary

Best overall: PrepMaven’s one-on-one SSAT tutoring 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 SSAT. 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 official SSAT practice: Any student preparing for the SSAT will want to check out the study materials available from EMA (SSAT.org), the makers of the SSAT. Families will need to pay to access these, unless they qualify for a fee waiver for the test registration. There are only four official practice tests, however, so students will want to make sure that they get the most out of each one. (A great tutor can help with that!)

Best of the big companies: The Princeton Review is one of the biggest and most well-known companies (no connection to Princeton University). 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.

Best on a budget: There are many tutoring services that match families with tutors who are high school graduates with varying qualifications. Of these services, Go Student offers lessons at the best rate, at $48–60/hour.

Best self-guided: For motivated and organized students who are capable of managing their own study schedules and learning progress, Test Innovators offers the best material for additional SSAT practice and review.

Regis School (NYC)
Regis School (Image Credit: Ajay Suresh Creative Commons CC BY 2.0)

Next steps

Ready to begin SSAT tutoring? Schedule a 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.

It’s always best to start early and not wait until the last minute to prepare for the SSAT! Remember that test scores can be used to earn scholarships as well as school admission, so a few months of study now can pay off with many thousands in tuition saved later.


Related articles

Your Complete Guide to the SSAT for 2021
Scoring on the SSAT: Your 2021 Guide
What is a Good SSAT Score for 2022?
The SSAT Writing Sample: What You Need to Know
How Important are SSAT Scores to Private Schools?
SSAT Character Skills Snapshot
What’s on the SSAT?
2021 SSAT Guidebook



student writing college essay

14 Best College Essay Services for 2022 (40 Services Reviewed)

Not sure which college application essay coaching and editing service is the best? We compared the top 40 services, created in-depth reviews for 14 of them, and narrowed it down to the 4 best that will help guide you through the process of writing amazing college application essays.

What is the Best College Essay Service?

  1. PrepMaven – best college application essay service overall
  2. College Essay Mentor – best for individual consultants
  3. The College Essay Guy – best for unlimited essay assistance
  4. College Vine – best of the big platforms

The best of the rest:

Individual essay consultants:

  1. College Essay Editor – small editing team
  2. Allison Karpf – former English teacher helping students
  3. Your College Vision – former journalist with more affordable rates
  4. The College Guru – good on paper but unresponsive

Mid-size teams:

  1. College Essay Advisors – no highly-selective experience
  2. Lotus Learning – focus on health sciences

Large platforms:

  1. Study Point – larger platform with mystery editors
  2. Ivy Select – larger platform with mystery editors
  3. Empowerly – larger platform with mystery editors
  4. BeMo – expensive and aggressive with wrong expertise
starting to write college essay


Best College Application Essay Services in 2022

#1 - PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Best College Essay Assistance Overall

Price: $79–349/hour (minimum $510 package)

PrepMaven’s one-on-one college essay assistance is the best option overall. Founded by brothers and Princeton grads Greg and Kevin, almost all of PrepMaven’s essay coaches have Ivy-League experience, primarily from Princeton and Harvard. All essay coaches also undergo a thorough training program in PrepMaven’s methods, developed by professional writers with deep understanding of the college admissions process, for helping students to discover the most compelling stories for their essays.

Unlike other services, PrepMaven offers college essay assistance at several different price points. At the most accessible rate, students can work with current Ivy-League undergraduates who specialize in writing and have recently aced the college application process. At higher rates, students can work with coaches who are both Ivy-League grads and professional writers (screenwriters, journalists, editors) with many years of experience helping students to craft compelling essays. Interested students can even work directly with founders Greg and Kevin, who have over 15 years of experience helping students through the entire essay-writing process.

PrepMaven’s services combine many of the best features of other good options into one, and it’s hard to beat their experience.

Best for:

Any student wanting college essay help, at any point in the process, with a range of budgets.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $85–349/hour (minimum $510 package)
  • Writing coach qualifications: Princeton graduates and professional writers (or current Princeton students); all trained

What we like:

  • Ivy League experience—most of their writing coaches are Princeton grads or current students, with some from Harvard and other Ivies
  • Different pricing options to meet different families’ circumstances
  • More flexible and greater capacity to take on new students compared to individual consultants

Princeton University
Princeton University

#2 - College Essay Mentor

Our Verdict — Best of the Individual Consultants

Price: unknown but high

Some college essay consulting services consist of just one expert. Of these individual essay consultants, Chris Hunt at College Essay Mentor is our favorite. He combines writing experience as a journalist for the Economist and the Wall Street Journal with personal experience as a graduate of Dartmouth.

However, he only works with a small number of students each year, and students need to apply to work with him — he only accepts students with top grades and test scores who are already strong applicants for top schools.

Chris offers the option for one-time written feedback, but this only gives big-picture generalizations. (And written-only feedback is always limited.) In order for help with the essay process, students need to purchase a complete essay package.

Best for:

Students with top grades and test scores who want to work with a one-person business, who have a sizable budget, and who are ready to get started early.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $210 for a one-time written essay feedback (big picture only), then $110 per draft feedback; pricing for essay process packages unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: professional journalist, Dartmouth grad

What we like:

  • Professional writing experience as a journalist
  • Extensive experience working with college applicants
  • Partners with Debra Felix, former Director of Admissions at Columbia, for full application review

What we don’t like:

  • One-on-one work is limited to very high-achieving students, who need to apply with a resume: “I limit my one-on-one work to students who I believe will be strong applicants to elite universities. As a rule, this means having high grades in challenging classes, a test score of ACT 34+ or SAT 1500+, and substantial activities outside of the classroom.”
  • Works with a limited number of students (60 per year), so often no availability
  • All-or-nothing packages don’t allow students to work with Chris for just a few hours or for part of the essay-writing process
  • Secretive about pricing (he’ll only give pricing details once he’s reviewed the student’s resume and agreed to work with them), but we expect the minimum cost of working one-on-one to be several thousand dollars

#3 - The College Essay Guy

Our Verdict — Best for Unlimited Essay Assistance

Price: $7400 for application for 10 schools

We’re fans of Ethan Sawyer, the original “college essay guy”— his book, College Essay Essentials, is a great guide to the essay-writing process. Ethan doesn’t work directly with many students these days, but he now has a team of consultants who help students follow his principles.

Their assistance is really all-or-nothing — they prefer to work with students from the very beginning of the process, and their minimum package is $4900, which includes assistance with essays for three schools. If students are applying to ten schools (a more realistic number for students aiming at competitive colleges), the fee is a hefty $7400.

Best for:

Students who want unlimited help through the entire process, who have a sizable budget.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $4900 (supplemental essays for 3 schools) – $7400 (supplemental essays for 10 schools)
  • Essay coach qualifications: mix of Ivy grads and former teachers, some writers/screenwriters; all trained

What we like:

  • Great free resources about the essay-writing process
  • Their Matchlighters Scholars Program gives back to the community by providing admissions consulting for select qualifying students

What we don’t like:

  • All-or-nothing packages have a high minimum fee and don’t work for students who want just a few hours of feedback or help with just part of the process

#4 - College Vine

Our Verdict — Best of the Big Platforms

Price: $170–190/hour

There are plenty of large platforms with large stables of part-time tutors and coaches available to work with students. Of these big platforms, we think CollegeVine has the best offerings. Compared to other large companies, CollegeVine provides more information about their tutors, and students can pick individual tutors to work with from their roster.

However, this model is really just a way of finding individual tutors to hire. Tutors don’t receive any training and don’t share a common approach, so it’s a mixed bag. Their rates are fairly high for part-time tutors who don’t have specific expertise and training in college essay consulting.

We also recommend working with college essay consultants with a clear code of ethics stating that they will not make edits directly on the essay documents for the students. It’s unclear to what degree the editors with CollegeVine follow these principles.

Best for:

Students who want to work with a big company.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $170–190/hour
  • Essay coach qualifications: no specific qualifications, but a few are Ivy League graduates

What we like:

  • Possible to select individual editors to work with from their roster

What we don’t like:

  • No training or common approach for tutors
  • Editors are part-time, with no option to work with full-time college admissions experts
  • Relatively expensive for this level of expertise

College Essay Editing Alternatives (that Didn’t Make the Cut)

Individual Essay Consultants

#5 - College Essay Editor

Our Verdict — Small Editing Team

Price: $4777 for application to 10 schools

College Essay Editor comprises two graduates of Stanford. This means that they have personal experience applying to highly competitive schools. One member of the team also has a college counseling certification, which is a good background for college essays.

Based on their website, they appear to focus on the editing and proofreading phase of the essay-writing process. This can be helpful to students, but we recommend working with a service who can help students to uncover their values and brainstorm really great material that allows them to really shine—and if this doesn’t happen at the beginning of the process, it’s much harder to add in later on.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $145/1000 words for proofreading, $395/1000 words for 3 rounds of editing and proofreading, or $495/1000 words for unlimited rounds of editing and proofreading; for the purposes of comparison, complete applications to 10 competitive colleges would be around 9,650 words, or $4777
  • Writing coach qualifications: Stanford graduates, one of which has college counseling certification

What we like:

  • Editors are graduates of Stanford University, and one is a member of NACAC, the national association of college counselors

What we don’t like:

  • They focus on editing and proofreading only, not on the crucial earlier steps of brainstorming and strategy
  • Small team with very limited availability

#6 - Allison Karpf

Our Verdict — Former English Teacher Helping Students

Price: $300/hour or $3000 package for application to one school

Another option for students looking to hire an individual consultant is Allison Karpf. Allison is a former high school English teacher and a graduate of UC Berkeley who also holds a Masters of Education from Stanford.

Her rates are definitely on the higher side, especially for someone who didn’t attend an Ivy-Plus school as an undergraduate herself and who doesn’t have a professional writing background, but she does have extensive experience working with students to craft their essays.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $300/hour or $3000 unlimited counseling (includes supplemental essays for one college)
  • Essay coach qualifications: former high school English teacher; Berkeley grad, Stanford MEd

What we like:

  • Lots of experience helping students improve their college essays
  • Very quick to respond to client requests

What we don’t like:

  • No professional writing experience or Ivy-Plus undergraduate experience
  • High rates relative to other options
  • Limited availability, since she works alone

#7 - Your College Vision

Our Verdict: Former Journalist with More Affordable Rates

Price: $150/hour (minimum 10 hours), or $3800 package for application to seven schools

Laurie Lande is another individual consultant who helps students through the essay-writing process. She comes recommended by other consultants like Chris from College Essay Mentor. Laurie did not herself attend a highly competitive school, so she doesn’t have that personal experience of going through the selective admissions process, but she does have a professional writing background as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $150/hour (for 10 hours), or $3800 package for application to seven schools
  • Essay coach qualifications: journalism background

What we like:

  • Affordable pricing, relative to other options
  • Professional writing background as a journalist for the Wall Street Journal

What we don’t like:

  • Not a graduate of a highly selective school
  • Limited availability, since she works alone

#8 - The College Guru

Our Verdict — Good on Paper but Unresponsive

Price: unknown

Yet another individual essay consultant is Geanine Thompson from The College Guru. Geanine attended Dartmouth as an undergraduate and also holds an MBA from Duke. She also has a professional writing background as an assistant book editor at Berkley Publishing Group.

Like Greg and Kevin at PrepMaven, she combines experience in the business world and at Wall Street firms with experience in education.

At a glance:

  • Cost: unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: former assistant book editor; Dartmouth grad, Duke MBA

What we like:

  • Dartmouth graduate and former book editor

What we don’t like:

  • Not responsive to emails and client requests

student writing college essay on laptop

Mid-size Teams

#9 - College Essay Advisors

Our Verdict — No Highly-Selective Experience

Price: unknown

Also operating under the name Admissions Essay Advising, College Essay Advisors is a mid-size company which seems to have a good perspective on the essay process, and their chief advisor is a certified college counselor.

However, their editors are not from Ivy-Plus schools, so they don’t have the personal experience of going through the selective admissions process. They also don’t have professional writing experience.

At a glance:

  • Cost: unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: no specific qualifications

What we like:

  • Clear about ethical standards—they’ll help guide students through the process but are clear that “students are responsible for getting the words on the page”
  • Chief Advisor is a member of NACAC, the national association of college counselors

What we don’t like:

  • Single round of proofreading, with no strategy
  • Uneven quality for editing services from a large pool of editors, who don’t have Ivy League experience
  • Secretive about pricing and details

#10 - Lotus Learning

Our Verdict — Focus on Health Sciences

Price: $165/hour

Founded by a Harvard grad who is a former teacher and veteran of the publishing industry, Lotus learning offers college essay help in the Boston area. They have a small team of tutors, mostly recent grads from good but not Ivy-Plus colleges, and mostly with focus in health sciences.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $165/hour (minimum 8 hours)
  • Essay coach qualifications: tutors are recent grads, but not Ivy-Plus schools

What we like:

  • Reasonable pricing with flexible packages

What we don’t like:

  • Essay editors aren’t graduates of Ivy-Plus schools and don’t have professional writing experience

Large platforms

#11 - Study Point

Our Verdict — Larger Platform with Mystery Editors

Price: unknown

Study Point is a larger essay editing service. They claim to have several decades of experience helping students to craft their college essays, but they do not give information about who their essay coaches are and what qualifications they might have.

At a glance:

  • Cost: unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: unknown

What we like:

  • Larger company with several decades of experience

What we don’t like:

  • Unclear who the essay coaches are
  • Secretive about pricing

#12 - Ivy Select

Our Verdict — Larger Platform with Mystery Editors

Price: unknown

Ivy Select is another larger essay editing service. They do not give information about who their essay coaches are and what qualifications they might have.

At a glance:

  • Cost: unknown
  • Essay coach qualifications: unknown

What we don’t like:

  • No information on their website about who the editors are
  • No professional writing experience

#13 - Empowerly

Our Verdict — Larger Platform with Mystery Editors

Price: unknown

Empowerly has over 60 college counselors who each work with an average of 5 students per year, in order to have more time to devote to each student. Their counselors come from "different educational backgrounds," and while they do not provide specific biographical details we can assume that most of their essay coaches did not attend highly selective schools.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $3550 minimum package
  • Essay coach qualifications: college counselors

What we like:

  • Counselors work with just a few students per year

What we don’t like:

  • No information on their website about who the editors are, and most did not attend highly selective schools
  • No professional writing experience

#14 - BeMo

Our Verdict — Expensive and Aggressive with Wrong Expertise

Price: $2997–12797

BeMo is a large admissions company based in Toronto, Canada. They focus primarily on admissions to medical schools and science graduate programs in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. Their rates are expensive, and they justify these by pointing out potential high earnings decades later as a doctor. Past customers have commented that their “school selection consultation” doesn’t provide any information specific to the individual student or schools.

They do provide a training process for their essay consultants, but their essay consultants do not have training as college counselors, do not have experience as professional writers, and did not attend Ivy-Plus schools. They have been known to be very aggressive with their marketing emails, and have included some strange language in their sales pitches that seems inappropriate for high school students.

At a glance:

  • Cost: €2997/silver (one hour consultation and then unlimited written essay review for one application, no supplemental essays), €4797/gold (one hour consultation and then unlimited written essay review, incl. supplemental essays for up to 10 schools; waitlist letter, scholarship applications), €8797/platinum (unlimited consults), €12797/titanium (unlimited consults)
  • Essay coach qualifications: unknown

What we like:

  • They have more of an international scope

What we don’t like:

  • No information on their website about who the editors are
  • High prices
  • Not focused on undergrad admissions

Top 40 College Essay Services Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • College Essay Editor
  • College Essay Advisors Admissions Essay Advising
  • The College Essay Guy
  • College Vine
  • College Essay Mentor
  • Study Point
  • BeMo
  • Allison Karpf
  • The College Guru
  • Lotus Learning
  • Ivy Select
  • Summit Prep
  • Sofia Zapiola
  • Empowerly
  • Ivy Global / New Summits
  • College Essay Solutions
  • Your College Vision
  • Essay Edge*
  • Scribbr*
  • Wordvice*
  • PaperTrue*
  • ServicEscape*
  • Wordy*
  • Enago*
  • Kibin*
  • Editage*
  • PapersForge*
  • PenCamp*
  • QuickWriter*
  • Scribendi*
  • JustEditMyEssay*
  • JustDoMyEsssay*
  • PaperHelp*
  • ExpertWriting*
  • EssayPro*
  • SpeedyPaper*
  • GradeMiners*
  • 99Papers*

* A number of services will edit essays directly for students, or even write portions of the essay for students. We do not condone this. Admissions officers can tell when essays have been written or edited by adults and this can have severe consequences. We have excluded these services from our reviews.

student writing college essay

Why are college application essays important?

Can a great college essay alone get you into Harvard?

No. You’ll need your grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities (as well as letters of recommendation and interview) to be outstanding.

But can a mediocre essay be the reason you didn’t get into Harvard?

Yes. There are thousands of amazingly-qualified students who graduate from high school each year. Great grades and test scores might be a prerequisite for admission to a competitive college, but they alone aren’t enough.

Harvard University
Harvard University

College essays are a key component of a student’s application. When done well, they transform a collection of numbers—GPA, class rank, SAT or ACT scores, number of AP classes taken, AP scores—into a glimpse of a real, individual person.

Essays do many things. Good college essays can highlight extracurricular achievements which otherwise would be overlooked in a sterile list. Strong essays often indicate the student’s future plans—how they plan to leave a mark on their college campus and on the world. They can shine a light on unique challenges that a student may have had to face on their journey.

College admissions officers only have a few minutes to spend on each application. College essays need to be original, interesting, and memorable. They need to grab the attention of the admissions officer and persuade them that this is the student out of hundreds or thousands of other similarly-qualified applicants who should be admitted.

College admissions essays are usually unlike any other kind of writing that students have done before. They’re a combination of memoir and marketing pitch, and they need to be creative but also highly strategic. That's a tough assignment!

What's more, students are left to figure this assignment out on their own. A thoughtful and generous high school English teacher may provide guidance or offer to read essays and give feedback, but these teachers are responsible for many students, and they're (usually) not experts in admissions strategies.

Princeton University
Princeton University

Why work with a college essay service?

You may want to consider a college essay service if:

  • You have no idea where to start in order to write your college application essays
  • You feel overwhelmed by all of the different ideas you have and don’t know what would be the most strategic for college admissions—and what topics to definitely avoid for college essays
  • You don’t know how to craft a compelling story
  • You’re not sure how to edit and refine what you’ve written
  • You have a hard time keeping yourself on track and want an external structure to hold you accountable
  • You’re tired of conflict between students and parents about college essays
  • You’re aiming at a competitive college (not just the Ivy League!) and know that you need your essays to be outstanding
  • Your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars aren’t exceptional, so you need your essay to make your essay stand out from the pack
  • You’re unfamiliar with the US college admissions process (a common situation for international students and first-generation families in the US)

Any of these are strong reasons to consider working with a college essay service!

It’s important to note that a good college essay service will not write your college application essays for you. This is unethical and illegal. 

A good college essay service will guide you through each step of the process, teaching you how to self-reflect and write well while sharing insider insight about admissions strategy.

Yale University
Yale University

What makes a good college essay service?

We strongly believe that students need to write their own college essays, and we do not condone plagiarism or “buying” a college essay.

However, writing college application essays requires a completely new set of skills that is rarely taught in high school!

Writing a personal essay is much more creative than simply writing a good paper for English class. It requires a compelling narrative and a great deal of writing craft. A good essay service will teach how to do this kind of writing.

There are many college essay services that will provide only written feedback to students, usually in the form of comments added to an essay draft. (Remember, it's important that students write their own essays, so avoid any college essay service that will make edits directly to an essay document.)

Written comments can be an effective component of good essay coaching. However, writing college essays is a deeply personal process, and it's incredibly difficult to guide a student through the process of self-reflection, brainstorming, and planning purely through written comments.

In addition, a great college essay coach will teach students how to do this entire process of brainstorming, planning, outlining, writing, and revising. It's difficult to learn why an essay coach is advising certain changes through written comments alone.

For these reasons, look for a college essay service with live, one-on-one services, not just written feedback. These days, it's easy to work with the best college essay consultants in the country over Zoom!

college essay coaching service online

Students need to reflect on their goals, their passions, and what drives them to be the person they are. This requires a great deal of self-awareness and self-analysis. An experienced college essay coach can help draw these ideas out of students through tested introspection techniques and brainstorming exercises.

On top of all of that, students need to be cognizant of which traits and accomplishments will be most appealing to colleges, and which stories will be cliche and boring. Personal statements and supplementary essays need to fit together to tell a cohesive story, and they need to work together with the rest of the student’s application (extracurriculars, grades, and other accomplishments).

In other words, there’s a great deal of strategy here! An experienced college essay service can help students decide how to present themselves in the best possible light.

Furthermore, most students don’t know how to edit effectively. A really top-notch college essay service will also teach students how to edit their own writing—how to reorder sections for better flow, cut unnecessary words to meet a word count, eliminate passive verbs, and make their writing vivid and exciting. Our students are routinely amazed by how transformative this step can be, and how much they learn by doing it together with the essay coach.

Finally, the best college essay services can also help students to make a writing plan and keep them on track, so that parents don’t have to be involved directly.

Ready to work on your college essays? Schedule a free 15- to 30-minute consultation with Jessica or one of our founders.


Summary

Best overall: PrepMaven’s

Best for individual consultants:

Best for unlimited essay assistance:

Best of the big platforms:


Next steps

Ready to work on college essays with one of our experienced writing coaches? Schedule a 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.

It’s always best to start early and not wait until the last minute to write your college essays! Remember that essays can be used to earn scholarships as well as college admission, so a few months of writing now can pay off with up to $300,000 in tuition saved later. 

We work with students at all stages of the writing process, from I-have-no-idea-what-to-write to final edits. To start working with an Ivy-League writing coach today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.

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Related articles

11 College Essays That Worked
7 Qualities of a Successful College Essay
5 Ways to Structure Your College Essay
The 6 Princeton Supplemental Essays: How to Respond
How to Answer the Harvard Supplemental Essay Prompts
How Colleges Read Your Application: A 4 Step Process
What College Admissions Officers Look For: A Must-Read Guide


student writing research paper

500 Good Research Paper Topics

Bonus Material:
Essential essay checklist

Writing a research paper for a class and not sure how to start?

One of the most important steps to creating a great paper is finding a good topic! 

Here’s a hand-drafted list from a Princeton grad who has helped professors at Harvard and Yale edit their papers for publication and taught college writing at the University of Notre Dame and .

What’s more, we give you some foolproof formulas for creating your own paper topic to fit the requirements of your class.

Using these simple formulas, we’ve helped hundreds of students turn a B- paper topic into an A+ paper topic.

Keep reading for our list of 500 vetted research paper topics and our magic formulas for creating your own topic!

Of course, if you want help learning to write research papers tailored to your individual needs, check out our one-on-one writing coaching or academic writing workshop. Set up a free consultation to see how we can help you learn to write A+ papers!

Jump to paper topics in:

Download the essential essay checklist

Bonus Material:
Essential essay checklist


What is a research paper?

In order to write a good research paper, it’s important to know what it is! 

In general, we can divide academic writing into three broad categories:

  1. Analytical: analyze the tools an author uses to make their point
  2. Research: delve deeply into a research topic and share your findings
  3. Persuasive: argue a specific and nuanced position backed by evidence

What’s the difference between an analytical paper and a research paper? For an analytical paper, it’s okay to just use one or two sources (a book, poem, work of art, piece of music, etc.) and examine them in detail. For a research paper, however, the expectation is that you do, well . . . research.

student writing research paper

The depth of research that you’re expected to do will depend on your age and the type of class you’re taking.

In elementary or middle school, a “research paper” might mean finding information from a few general books or encyclopedias in your school library. 

In high school, your teachers might expect you to start using information from academic articles and more specific books. You might use encyclopedias and general works as a starting point, but you’ll be expected to go beyond them and do more work to synthesize information from different perspectives or different types of sources. You may also be expected to do “primary research,” where you study the source material yourself, instead of synthesizing what other people have written about the source material.

In college, you’ll be required to use academic journals and scholarly books, and your professors will now expect that you be more critical of these secondary sources, noticing the methodology and perspectives of whatever articles and books you’re using. 

In more advanced college courses, you’ll be expected to do more exhaustive surveys of the existing literature on a topic. You’ll need to conduct primary research that makes an original contribution to the field—the kind that could be published in a journal article itself.

For a walkthrough of the 12 essential steps to writing a good paper, check out our step-by-step guide.

student writing research paper

Working on a research paper? Grab our free checklist to make sure your essay has everything it needs to earn an A grade.


What makes a good research paper topic?

One of the most important features of a research paper topic is that it has a clear, narrow focus. 

For example, your teacher may assign you to write a research paper related to the US Revolutionary War. Does that mean that your topic should be “the US Revolutionary War”? 

Definitely not! There’s no way to craft a good paper with in-depth research with such a broad topic. (Unless you’re in elementary or middle school, in which case it’s okay to have a more general topic for your research paper.)

Instead, you need to find a more specific topic within this broader one. There are endless ways that you can make this narrower! Some ideas generated from this one broader topic might be:

  1. Causes of the US Revolutionary War
  2. Changes in military strategy during the Revolutionary War
  3. The experiences of Loyalists to England who remained in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War
  4. How the Revolutionary War was pivotal for the career of Alexander Hamilton
  5. The role of alliances with France during the US Revolutionary War
  6. The experiences of people of color during the Revolutionary War
  7. How George Washington’s previous military career paved the way for his leadership in the Revolutionary War
  8. The main types of weaponry during the Revolutionary War
  9. Changes in clothing and fashion over the courses of the Revolutionary War
  10. How Valley Forge was a key moment in the Revolutionary War
  11. How women contributed to the Revolutionary War
  12. What happened in Amherst, Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War
  13. Field medicine during the Revolutionary War
  14. How the Battle of Saratoga was a turning point in the Revolutionary War
  15. How different opinions about the Revolutionary War were reflected in poetry written during that time
  16. Debates over abolition during the Revolutionary War
  17. The importance of supply chains during the Revolutionary War
  18. Reactions to the US Revolutionary war in Europe
  19. How the US Revolutionary war impacted political theory in England and France
  20. Similarities and differences between the US Revolutionary War and the French Revolution
  21. Famous paintings inspired by the US Revolutionary War
  22. Different ways that the US Revolutionary War has been depicted in modern contemporary culture
  23. The appropriation of the “Boston Tea Party” by US politicians in the 2010s

This list could go on forever!

good research paper topics about the US Revolution

In fact, any of these topics could become even more specific. For example, check out the evolution of this topic:

  1. Causes of the US Revolutionary War
  2. Economic causes of the Revolutionary war
  3. The way that tax policies helped lead to the Revolutionary War
  4. How tax laws enacted 1763–1775 helped lead to the Revolutionary War
  5. How the tax-free status of the British East India Company helped lead to the Revolutionary War
  6. How the 1773 tax-free status of the British East India Company helped lead to the Revolutionary War, as reflected in letters written 1767–1775
  7. How the 1773 tax-free status of the British East India Company helped lead to the Revolutionary War, as reflected in letters written by members of the Sons of Liberty 1767–1775

As you advance in your educational career, you’ll need to make your topic more and more specific. Steps 1–3 of this topic might be okay in high school, but for a college research paper steps 4–7 would be more appropriate!

As you craft your research paper topic, you should also keep in mind the availability of research materials on your subject. There are millions of topics that would make interesting research papers, but for which you yourself might not be able to investigate with the primary and secondary sources to which you have access.

Access to research materials might look like:

  • To the best of our knowledge, the sources exist somewhere
  • The source isn’t behind a paywall (or you or your school can pay for it)
  • Your school or local library has a copy of the source
  • Your school or local library can order a copy of the source for you
  • The source is in a language that you speak
  • The source has been published already (there’s tons of amazing research that hasn’t been published yet, a frustrating problem!)
  • You can access the archive, museum, or database where the primary source is held—this might mean online access or travel! To access a source in an archive or museum you’ll often need permission, which often requires a letter of support from your school.

If you’re not sure about access to source materials, talk to a librarian! They’re professionals for this question.

Finally, pick a research topic that interests you! Given that there are unlimited research topics in the world and many ways to adapt a broad topic, there should absolutely be a way to modify a research topic to fit your interests.

student writing research paper

Want help learning to write an amazing research paper? Work one-on-one with an experienced Ivy-League tutor to improve your writing skills or sign up for our bestselling academic writing workshop.


Insider tips to generate your own research paper topic

Use these formulas to generate your own research paper topics:

  • How did X change over a period of time (year, decade, century)?
  • What is the impact (or consequences) of X?
  • What led to X?
  • What is the role of X in Y?
  • How did X influence Y?
  • How did X become Y?
  • How was X different from Y?
  • How is X an example of Y?
  • How did X affect Y?
  • What were some reactions to X?
  • What are the most effective policies to produce X result?
  • What are some risks of X?
  • How is our current understanding of X incorrect? (advanced)
  • What happens if we look at X through the lens of Y theory or perspective? (advanced)

A good research paper topic often starts with the question words—why, how, what, who, and where. Remember to make it as specific as possible!

student writing research paper


Good research paper topics

These research paper topics have been vetted by a Princeton grad and academic book editor!

US History

  1. How did European rivalries (British vs French) impact North American history?
  2. What was the role of British and French alliances with indigneous tribes during the Seven Years’ War?
  3. Reactions to the 1754 Albany Congress among North American intellectual figures
  4. How the Albany Plan served as a model for future attempts at union among the North American colonies
  5. How did different religious identities (Calvinist, Catholic, etc.) play a role in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War?
  6. What were the consequences of the 1763 Treaty of Paris?
  7. How did the Seven Years’ War impact British debt and colonial economics?
  8. What were some causes of the US Revolutionary War?
  9. How did military strategy change during the Revolutionary War?
  10. What were the experiences of Loyalists to England who remained in the American colonies during the Revolutionary War?
  11. How was the Revolutionary War pivotal for the career of Alexander Hamilton?
  12. What was the role of alliances with France during the US Revolutionary War?
  13. What were the experiences of people of color during the Revolutionary War?
  14. How did George Washington’s previous military career pave the way for his leadership in the Revolutionary War?
  15. What were the main types of weaponry during the Revolutionary War? How did that affect the options for military strategies?
  16. How did clothing and fashion change over the courses of the Revolutionary War?
  17. How was Valley Forge a key moment in the Revolutionary War?
  18. How did women contribute to the Revolutionary War?
  19. What happened in Amherst, Massachusetts (or any other specific location) during the Revolutionary War?
  20. What was field medicine like during the Revolutionary War? 
  21. How was the Battle of Saratoga a turning point in the Revolutionary War?
  22. How were different opinions about the Revolutionary War reflected in poetry written during that time?
  23. What were the debates over abolition during the Revolutionary War?
  24. What was the role of supply chains during the Revolutionary War?
  25. What were reactions to the US Revolutionary war like in Europe? What does that tell us about politics in England, France, the Netherlands, etc?
  26. How did the US Revolutionary war impact political theory in England and France?
  27. What are similarities and differences between the US Revolutionary War and the French Revolution?
  28. What are some famous paintings inspired by the US Revolutionary War? What do differences between these paintings tell us about how the artists who created them saw the war?
  29. What are some different ways that the US Revolutionary War has been depicted in modern contemporary culture? What does that tell us?
  30. How was the story of the “Boston Tea Party” appropriated by US politicians in the 2010s, and why?
  31. What was the difference between the Federalists and the Jeffersonians?
  32. How did the 1797 XYZ Affair lead to the Quasi-War with France?
  33. How were loans from European countries and companies (France, Spain, Dutch bankers) key to the early US?
  34. What were reactions to the Constitutional Convention of 1787?
  35. Why did the US remain neutral during the French Revolution?
  36. How did the Alien and Sedition acts contribute to the election of Thomas Jefferson as president?
  37. What was the US’s reaction to the Haitian revolution? Why did the US not recognize Haitian independence until 1862?
  38. What were the reactions to John Jay’s Treaty of 1794?
  39. How have the remarks made by George Washington in his Farewell Address inspired isolationist policies?
  40. How did interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine change over the decades since its creation? 
  41. How did the Roosevelt Corollary and Lodge Corollary change and expand the Monroe Doctrine?
  42. How did the presence of US companies like the United Fruit Company affect US military interventions in Latin America? 
  43. How was the Monroe Doctrine invoked in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962? 
  44. How was US culture shaped by the Cold War?

European & Mediterranean History

  1. How did ecology play a role in the rise of Ancient Egypt?
  2. How did water management technologies impact Ancient Egypt?
  3. How did bureaucracies function in Ancient Egypt?
  4. How did Egyptian art influence Ancient Greek art?
  5. Who could be a citizen in Athens in the 5th century BCE? What does this tell us about classical Athenian society?
  6. What was the impact of the Peloponnesian War?
  7. What was the impact of Alexander the Great’s attempt to create an empire?
  8. How does the way that Alexander the Great is represented in art demonstrate conceptions about the relationship between the human and the divine?
  9. Was there a conception of race in the ancient world? How were these ideas different from our own modern conceptions of race?
  10. What was the role of debt slavery in the Roman republic? How were these policies ended, and what is the significance of the end of debt slavery? What kinds of slavery remained?
  11. To what degree does the movie Gladiator accurately the Roman Empire in 176–192 CE?
  12. What was the role of slavery in managing the large latifundia?
  13. How and why did the emperor Constantine I adopt Christianity?
  14. How did patterns of urbanism in the latter Roman empire change? What does this tell us about challenges being faced at that time?
  15. What do reactions to the Byzantine empress Theodora tell us about ideas of gender in 6th-century Byzantium?
  16. How did scientific advancements in Islamic Spain influence the rest of Europe?
  17. What was the relationship between Muslim, Christian, and Jewish populations in Islamic Spain? How does this compare to the experience of Muslim and Jewish populations in Christian Spain?
  18. How did medieval troubadour poetry represent a new idea of romantic relationships?
  19. What are similarities and differences between medieval troubadour poetry and lyric poetry in Ancient Greece? 
  20. What do letters between women and popes tell us about gender, power, and religion in medieval Europe?
  21. In what ways was Hildegard of Bingen groundbreaking for her time?
  22. Who produced beer in medieval England, and what does this tell us about society?
  23. How did the adoption of hops affect the production and distribution of beer?
  24. How did beer production allow some women a way to be financially independent?
  25. How was clothing used to mark religious and cultural identities in 15th- and 16th-century Spain?
  26. How did print culture change relationships and courting in Georgian England?
  27. How did churches function as social gathering spaces in Georgian England?
  28. To what degree is Netflix’s Bridgerton series historically accurate?
  29. How did ideas of love change in the 18th century? How did philosophy play a role in this?
  30. When were Valentine cards first commercially available? What does that show us about cultural ideas of love and courtship?

African History

  1. What were the consequences of the desertification of the Sahara?
  2. How did trade links on the Red Sea influence Nubian culture?
  3. How did Carthage build power in Northern Africa around 600–500 BCE?
  4. What was the impact of the Mercenary War (241–238 BCE) in Carthage?
  5. How did the Roman province of Africa play a key role in financing the Roman Empire?
  6. What were the consequences of the Donatist division in the 300s in Northern Africa?
  7. What was the impact of the large-scale movement of Bedouins from the Arabian peninsula into the Maghreb?
  8. How was Mande society organized in the Mali Empire? 
  9. What was the role of the book trade in Timbuktu? What does this tell us about culture and learning in the Mali Empire?
  10. How did Aksum use trade to build wealth and power? 
  11. What do Nok terracotta sculptures tell us about Nok culture?
  12. How did the Luba Empire create a centralized political system? How did the idea of spiritual kins (balopwe) play a role in this system?
  13. How did tax collection work in the Lunda empire?
  14. What does it mean to say that the Ajuran Empire was a hydraulic empire? How did control over water resources allow the Ajuran Empire to build and consolidate power?
  15. What is the significance of diplomatic ties between the Somai Ajuran Empire and Ming dynasty China? 
  16. How did the tribute system in the Kingdom of Kongo help to stimulate interregional trade?
  17. What was the impact of the introduction of maize and cassava to the Kingdom of Kongo?
  18. How did women wield influence in the Kingdom of Benin?
  19. How did the Industrial Revolution in Europe help lead to the Scramble for Africa 1878–1898?
  20. What were the consequences of the Second Boer War?
  21. What happened in the Year of Africa (1960)?

Asian History

  1. How did the Han dynasty consolidate power in frontier regions? 
  2. How and why did the Han dynasty nationalize the private salt and iron industries in 117 BCE?
  3. What are the earliest records of papermaking, and what is the significance of this invention?
  4. What was the role of Daoist religious societies in rebellions at the end of the Han dynasty (Yellow Turban Rebellion, Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion)?
  5. What do tomb paintings tell us about ancient Chinese society?
  6. What was the impact of the Sui dynasty’s standardization and re-unification of the coinage?
  7. What was the role of standardized testing in Sui dynasty and Tang dynasty China?
  8. Why is the Tang dynasty often regarded as a golden age of cosmopolitan culture in Chinese history?
  9. What was the role of slavery in imperial China? 
  10. How did the rise of jiedushi (regional military governments) undermine the civil-service system? What were the consequences of this?
  11. How did Tang dynasty China exert power over Japan and Korea?
  12. What was the Three Departments and Six Ministries system in imperial China and how did it work?

History of the Pre-Columbian Americas

  1. What does the appearance of Inca, Maya, and Aztec goods in North America (Utah, Canada) and the appearance of goods from the Great Lakes region in Maya and Aztec ruins tell us about trade in the Pre-Columbian Americas?
  2. How did celebration of maize play a central role in Mesoamerican cultures?
  3. How did the Aztec empire use relationships with client city-states to establish power? How did the Aztec empire use taxation to exert power?
  4. How did the luxury good trade impact Aztec political power? 
  5. How did the building of roads play a key role in the Aztec empire?
  6. How and why has archaeology played a pivotal role in expanding our understanding of the pre-Columbian Americas?
  7. What are some common misconceptions about the Americas in the year 1491? Why do these misconceptions exist?

Latin American History (post-1492)

  1. How and why did the Spanish appropriate Aztec sites of significance (e.g. Mexico City at the site of Tenochtitlan)?
  2. What were reactions among Latin American intellectuals (e.g. Luis María Drago, Alejandro Álvarez and Baltasar Brum) to the Monroe Doctrine?
  3. How was the US’s involvement in the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903 a pivotal turning point in the relationship between the US and Latin American countries?
  4. What were the effects of the US’s involvement in the Cuban War for Independence?
  5. How did the Roosevelt Corollary of 1904 benefit the US?
  6. How did Simon Bolivar’s time in Europe affect his ideas about Latin American independence?

History of Science

  1. How did 19th century academic societies play a role in the advancement of scientific discoveries? Who was excluded from these societies?
  2. How was music connected to the sciences in medieval thinking?
  3. When was the concept of zero first used, and how was it instrumental for advancements in math?
  4. What role did Islamic Spain play in the spread of scientific advancements in medieval Europe?
  5. What role has translation between languages played in the development of sciences?
  6. Why were Galileo's ideas about astronomy controversial at the time?
  7. What was the connection between art and advancements in human anatomy?
  8. Why were Darwin's ideas about natural selection controversial at the time?
  9. To what degree does the film Master and Commander accurately depict the voyages of Charles Darwin?
  10. How did the discovery of quinine and other medical innovations help to facilitate the European colonization of Africa?
  11. How and why was the internet invented?

Literature

  1. Does Virgil’s Aeneid celebrate the new Roman Empire or subvert it?
  2. Why was the poet Ovid exiled from Rome?
  3. What are the pagan influences in Beowulf? What are the Christian elements in Beowulf? What does that tell us about late Anglo-Saxon England?
  4. How does Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales reflect gender roles in late medieval England?
  5. How does Dante’s Inferno draw on book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid
  6. How are gender roles presented and subverted in Shakespeare’s plays?
  7. To what degree did Henry David Thoreau live out the ideals he described in Walden in his own life?
  8. How did the serialized publication of novels affect the way that they were written?
  9. Does Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities accurately portray the French Revolution?
  10. How did 18th-century novels propagate the idea of marrying for love?
  11. What did contemporary readers think about Jane Austen and her novels?
  12. To what degree do Jane Austen’s novels reflect economic realities for women in Regency England? What do they leave out?
  13. How did Lord Byron’s personal life affect his poetry?
  14. What do we know about the romantic life of Emily Dickinson?
  15. What were the religious movements that influenced the writer George Eliot, and how do those influences appear in her novels?
  16. In what ways were Walt Whitman’s writings new or different?
  17. How did British poets react to the horrors of Word War I?
  18. What do Tolkien’s letters reveal about the ways in which the two world wars influenced his writings?
  19. How did the friendship between CS Lewis and Tolkien affect their respective writings?

Politics & Public Policy

  1. What are the arguments for and against Catalonian independence from Spain?
  2. What are the arguments for and against Scottish independence from the United Kingdom?
  3. What are some risks of contact sports, especially for children?
  4. What are the most effective policies for combating childhood obesity?
  5. What are the most effective policies for reducing gun violence?
  6. Which countries have the longest life expectancy and why?
  7. What are some differences between the healthcare system in the US and in European countries? Which country has the most similar system to the US?
  8. What policies for parental leave exist in different countries? What are some effects of these policies?
  9. Has the drinking age in the US always been 21? What have been some different policies, and what were some consequences of them?
  10. What is the debate around museum artifacts like the Elgin Marbles in London or the Benin Bronzes in Berlin?
  11. How have politicians attempted to control population growth in different countries, either directly or indirectly? What have been some effects of these policies?
  12. Which countries have the most gender parity reflected in national governments? How have they accomplished this?

Education & Education Policy

  1. How has public funding of K-12 education changed since the 1930s in the US? 
  2. How has public funding of higher education changed in the US?
  3. What is early childhood education like in different countries?
  4. What are some effects of free or reduced-cost meals in schools?
  5. How does access to menstrual products affect education outcomes for girls in different countries?
  6. What was the impact of Rousseau’s writings on education?

Political Theory

  1. How did Plato’s ideal forms of government reflect contemporary Athenian concerns about the unruly masses (demos)?
  2. How did Aristotle justify slavery?

Economics

  1. How has wealth inequality increased in recent decades?
  2. How is inflation calculated, and what are the implications of this methodology?

Science Policy

  1. How have genetically-engineered crops changed the way that the planet feeds itself?
  2. How has animal testing changed since 2000?
  3. How is animal testing regulated differently in different countries?

Health Sciences and Psychology

  1. How do different societies reflect the natural circadian rhythms of the human body?
  2. How does secondhand smoke affect the human body?
  3. How does lack of sleep affect the body?
  4. How does stress affect the body?
  5. What are some ways to reduce stress?
  6. How have cancer treatments changed in the past 30 years?
  7. Why is it hard to find a "cure" for cancer?
  8. How has the Human Genome Project changed medical science?
  9. How were the Covid vaccines developed so quickly? What is the difference between the various Covid vaccines that have been developed?


Next steps

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pencil for taking the SAT

12 Best SAT Prep Courses for 2022 (32 Courses Reviewed)

Not sure which SAT prep course is the best? We compared the top 32 courses, created in-depth reviews for 12 of them, and narrowed it down to the 4 best that will help you increase your SAT scores.

What is the Best SAT Prep Course?

  1. PrepMaven - best SAT prep course overall
  2. Khan Academy  - best for self-guided SAT prep
  3. Princeton Review - best of the big test prep companies
  4. Magoosh - best for families on a budget

The best of the rest:

  1. Kaplan - big classes with big prep
  2. Prep Expert - high price, uneven quality
  3. Kranse Institute - high price for only videos
  4. PrepScholar - overpriced shorter class without support
  5. Peterson’s - reasonable self-guided practice
  6. Ivy Bound - higher price but no extras
  7. College Prep Genius - alternative for live instruction on a budget
  8. Varsity Tutors - uneven quality, no extras
colored pencils


Best SAT Prep Courses in 2022

#1 - PrepMaven

Our Verdict — Highest Quality Instruction

Price: $995

PrepMaven’s SAT MasterClass offers students the chance to learn directly from the company’s co-founder, Kevin Wong, a Princeton grad with 15+ years and over 15,000 hours of SAT experience.

The course emphasizes teaching students how to use practice materials effectively and provides all students with a comprehensive study and homework plan. 

Founded by two brothers, both Princeton graduates passionate about education, PrepMaven offers a more individualized learning experience than bigger test prep companies. Students can easily add on one-on-one tutoring to continue their test prep after the course.

Sign up if you’re looking for a small group class led by an instructor with live classes, not a self-guided online platform. 

Best for:

PrepMaven’s SAT MasterClass is the best option for anyone looking for SAT prep led by a qualified instructor.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $995 SAT MasterClass
  • Program length: 21 hours of live instruction
  • Class size: average size 20 students
  • Instructor qualifications: all courses taught by co-founder (Princeton grad & top 1%)
  • Support: weekly office hours with private support
  • Practice tests: 3 official practice tests
  • Materials: math coursebook, grammar workbook, reading strategy guide with sample passages
  • Online access: lifetime access to recordings of classes
  • Guarantee: score raise guarantee

What we like:

  • You know exactly who the instructor will be — and the instructor (Princeton grad with extensive teaching experience) is the most qualified of any course we’ve compared.
  • Weekly office hours where students can ask any questions they have and work through more examples.
  • More individualized learning experience compared to large companies.

What we don’t like:

  • Limited availability for courses means less flexibility for course dates.

PrepMaven SAT class

#2 - Khan Academy

Our Verdict — Best Self-Guided SAT Prep

Price: $0

It’s hard to beat completely free, officially-approved SAT prep!

But even if it weren’t free, Khan Academy would still top our lists for self-guided test prep.

For motivated and organized students ready to work independently, Khan Academy has amazing content. A non-profit educational organization, Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board (the makers of the SAT) to provide free test prep that’s accessible to everyone. That means that apart from the official practice tests, Khan Academy’s materials are the only other materials officially approved by the College Board.

(Many companies will produce their own “practice tests” that mimic the test but are not official tests. All of the official tests are available for free online from the College Board or in the College Board SAT book.)

Students create a profile with a SAT Dashboard that guides them through video lessons, quizzes, practice questions with detailed explanations, and full-length practice tests.

Best for:

Khan Academy’s SAT prep platform is the best option for anyone who wants to prep independently with just the test content, no strategy tips.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $0
  • Program length: on-demand
  • Instructor qualifications: no instructor, but the materials are approved by the College Board
  • Support: no support
  • Practice tests: 3 practice tests
  • Materials: interactive practice materials approved by the College Board
  • Online access: lifetime access
  • Guarantee: no guarantee

What we like:

  • Partnership with the College Board (makers of the SAT) means that materials are officially approved
  • Individual math concepts have particularly strong content, great for reviewing with short videos and then doing practice with instant feedback
  • It’s free!

What we don’t like:

  • Covers only test content, no strategy—and learning the test format and key strategies is an important component of test prep
  • Content is weaker for Reading and Writing sections, especially compared to their content for the Math sections
  • Self-guided platform means that students have to craft their own study plan and decide which areas to practice—and there’s no one to hold them accountable
Khan Academy data problem

#3 - The Princeton Review

Our Verdict — Best of the Big Prep Companies

Price: $949–$2199

The Princeton Review actually has no connection to Princeton University.

However, they’re still well-known in their own right as a large educational company, as well as the publishers of many test prep and college admissions guides.

The Princeton Review provides a deep set of practice materials, including 140 hours of additional video lessons to review individual concepts.

Teachers with the Princeton Review receive extensive training. They are not required to be Ivy-League graduates or have scored highly themselves.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $949 SAT Essentials Course, $1199 Summer Camp, or $2199 SAT 1400+
  • Program length: 18 hours or 36 hours live online or live in-person
  • Instructor qualifications: trained instructors
  • Practice tests: 3 practice tests
  • Materials: 23 practice tests and many practice questions
  • Online access: available for 12 months
  • Guarantee: depending on the course, no guarantee or guaranteed 1400+ score

What we like:

  • Large, established test prep company
  • The SAT 1400+ Course has 36 hours of instruction, which is a lot of learning time!

What we don’t like:

  • No specific qualification requirements for instructors, and you don’t know who the instructor will be—although instructors have more extensive training than some other companies
  • No score raise guarantee for the Essentials Course

#4 - Magoosh

Our Verdict — Best on a Budget

Price: $399

For students who want an instructor-led online class on a budget, Magoosh’s Guided Live Class is a solid choice.

All classes are recorded and also available to watch on-demand. We like Magoosh’s user-friendly online test environment with a mobile app, and the fact that they offer 24/7 support via email or chat support.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $129/month self-paced course or $399 Guided Live Classes
  • Program length: 16 hours live instruction over one month
  • Instructor qualifications: top 1%
  • Support: email or chat support
  • Online access: available for 12 months
  • Guarantee: score increase of 100 points guaranteed

What we like:

  • All instructors scored in the top 1% themselves
  • 24/7 support via email or chat
  • Affordable pricing

What we don’t like:

  • You don’t know who the instructor will be
  • Shorter course compared to other options

SAT Prep Alternatives (that Didn’t Make the Cut)

#5 - Kaplan

Our Verdict — Big Classes with Big Prep

Price: $699

Along with Princeton Review, Kaplan is one of the other large companies in the test prep space.

Kaplan’s Live Online class offers 18 hours of live online classes (9 sessions of 2 hours each) and the opportunity to message instructors through a group chat. It also includes 15 hours of additional on-demand video content. Kaplan’s classes are larger than many other providers, with up to 30 students per class.

Their Unlimited Prep Course offers students to schedule classes when they want, and there is no fixed calendar. This can be beneficial for students who are fitting test prep into already busy schedules. For students wanting external structure and accountability, however, this can be less beneficial. The course comes with a high price tag, but 12-month payment plans are available. Students enrolled in the Unlimited Prep Course can also choose between classes for the ACT and selected AP exams.

Kaplan’s On Demand Course provides short (under 30 minutes) pre-recorded courses with practice questions and quizzes. There is no live instruction or access to a teacher.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $199 SAT On-Demand Class, $699 Live Online, or $1999 Unlimited Prep Course
  • Program length: 18 hours live online or on-demand, 10 days to 8 weeks
  • Class size: 30 students
  • Instructor qualifications: none given
  • Online access: available for 12 months
  • Guarantee: score raise guarantee

What we like:

  • Large, established test prep company
  • Students can message instructors through a group chat to ask questions

What we don’t like:

  • Instructors have no required qualifications
  • You don’t know who the instructor will be
  • Larger classes than other providers, with up to 30 students per class

#6 - Prep Expert

Our Verdict — High Price, Uneven Quality

Price: $1499

Prep Expert’s Flagship SAT Prep Course offers 36 hours of live instruction and guarantees a score increase of 200 points, the largest in the industry.

Their longer Capstone SAT Prep Course includes 42 hours of live classes taught by expert instructor Clay Cooper and a 3-hour review session taught by another instructor.

We like that Prep Expert states which instructor teaches which course date, since the quality of the teacher is the single most important factor in an SAT course, and most other SAT prep providers do not name who will be teaching the course. (The other exception is PrepMaven, where all SAT courses are taught by co-founder Kevin Wong.) However, they have been known to switch instructors without warning.

There is also a self-paced option for students who want to plan their study schedule independently with 30 hours of video content. The self-paced course does not include the interactive practice question interface.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $499 self-paced, $999 Flagship SAT Prep Course, $1499 Capstone SAT Prep Course
  • Program length: 36 or 45 hours live online
  • Instructor qualifications: top 1%
  • Materials: no additional materials (only official published tests)
  • Online access: available for 12 months
  • Guarantee: score increase of 200 points guaranteed

What we like:

  • You know who the instructor will be, as the name is listed for each course date (although they have been known to switch instructors without warning)
  • Score raise guarantee of 200 points 

What we don’t like:

  • Refund process is difficult and families have reported that the score increase guarantee may not be honored
  • Instructor may change from the one listed, and some are less well-reviewed
  • Long class sessions (3 hours) are difficult for students

#7 - Kranse Institute

Our Verdict: High Price for Only Videos

Price: $599

The Kranse Institute is affiliated with Prep Expert and provides the same self-paced option with 30 hours of video content. The price is far too high for only videos without any contact with an instructor.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $599
  • Program length: self-paced 30 hours of video
  • Class size: 
  • Instructor qualifications: top 1%
  • Support: 
  • Practice tests: 
  • Materials: no additional materials (only official published tests)
  • Online access: available for 18 months

What we don’t like:

  • Self-guided platform means that students have to craft their own study plan and decide which areas to practice—and there’s no one to hold them accountable 
  • High price tag for only self-guided videos, especially when Khan Academy is completely free

#8 - PrepScholar

Our Verdict — Overpriced Shorter Class Without Support

Price: $895

PrepScholar’s core offering is its $895 SAT Classes, which provide 9 hours of live instruction. We like the small classes of just 9 students, but the classes don’t offer office hours, group chats, or other ways of requesting extra help from the instructor. Instead, students needing additional explanations are encouraged to purchase additional tutoring hours. The course is also significantly shorter than other options at the same price, with only six sessions.

PrepScholar’s most affordable option gives students access to a variety of online prep materials, including videos about both content and strategy. There is no live instruction or access to a teacher.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $397 Complete Prep (self-paced) or $895 PrepScholar Classes
  • Program length: 9 hours of live classes
  • Class size: 9 students
  • Support: none
  • Online access: available for 12 months
  • Guarantee: Score raise of 160 points guaranteed

What we like:

  • Small class sizes of 9 students

What we don’t like:

  • Just 9 hours of live instruction is less than half of the competitors at the same price point
  • No additional support from instructor—there’s no group chats, office hours, or other way for students to ask questions

#9 - Peterson’s

Our Verdict — Reasonable Self-Guided Practice

Cost: $99

For students looking for more self-directed practice beyond what’s offered for free by Khan Academy, Peterson’s provides a flexible learning platform at a reasonable price point.

There is no access to live instruction or a real tutor, though!

At a glance:

  • Cost: $99
  • Support: none
  • Online access: available for 12 months
  • Guarantee: none

What we like:

  • Reasonable price for additional video content

What we don’t like:

  • Self-guided platform means that students have to craft their own study plan and decide which areas to practice—and there’s no one to hold them accountable

#10 - Ivy Bound

Our Verdict — Higher Price but No Extras

Price: $1150

For students wanting a course longer than those offered by PrepMaven (21 hours) or the Princeton Review (18 hours), Kaplan (18 hours), or PrepScholar (9 hours), but who aren’t ready to spend $2200 on the Princeton Review’s 36-hour course, Ivy Bound might offer a good middle ground. Their SAT class offers 24 hours of live instruction on a variety of different schedules, depending on the time of year.

Students and families should note that Ivy Bound has a disclaimer that not all course dates might be offered and are subject to sufficient enrollment.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $1150
  • Program length: 24 hours live instruction
  • Instructor qualifications: none specified
  • Guarantee: none

What we like:

  • Longer course with more hours of live instruction

What we don’t like:

  • Not all course dates are guaranteed to go ahead
  • No score raise guarantee
  • No specific qualifications for their instructors, and you don’t know who the instructor will be
  • No additional support offered via chat, email, or office hours, so students have no way of asking questions outside of class

#11 - College Prep Genius

Our Verdict — Alternative for Live Instruction on a Budget

Price: $395

College Prep Genius offers another option for shorter live online classes. Their virtual class provides 11 hours of instruction spread out over either 3 days or 8 weeks.

It’s a reasonable option for families on a budget, but it does not offer additional support via office hours or the ability to email or chat with an instructor, so we prefer Magoosh’s 16-hour live class instead for this price range.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $139 eCourse, $395 virtual class
  • Program length: 11 hours over either 3 days of 8 weeks
  • Instructor qualifications: 
  • Support: none
  • Online access: available for 12 months
  • Guarantee: none

What we like:

  • More affordable price—although College Prep Genius’ class is only 11 hours, so Magoosh’s 16-hour class at the same price is a better bang for your buck 

What we don’t like:

  • No additional support offered via chat, email, or office hours, so students have no way of asking questions outside of class
  • No score raise guarantee
  • No specific qualifications for their instructors, and you don’t know who the instructor will be

#12 - Varsity Tutors

Our Verdict — Uneven Quality, No Extras

Price: $525

Formerly known as Veritas Prep, Varsity Tutors offers a SAT Prep Class in three different time frames: as a one-week bootcamp, spread out over four weeks, or spread out over eight weeks.

This course is less comprehensive than many of the other options, as it does not guide students in taking full practice tests, one of the most important components of test preparation. There is no additional support for students outside of class time.

There are no specific qualifications or training for the instructors, and as Varsity Tutors is a large tutoring platform, their quality of tutors can be uneven. While the price point might be appealing, we prefer Magoosh’s course for families on a budget.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $525 prep class
  • Program length: 16 hours over 1 week, 4 weeks, or 8 weeks
  • Class size: 9 students
  • Instructor qualifications: none specified
  • Support: none
  • Practice tests: none
  • Online access: available for 12 months
  • Guarantee: none

What we like:

  • More affordable price
  • Smaller class size of 9 students

What we don’t like:

  • No additional support offered via chat, email, or office hours, so students have no way of asking questions outside of class
  • No score raise guarantee
  • No specific qualifications for their instructors, and you don’t know who the instructor will be
  • Does not use full practice tests, a key part of SAT prep 

Top 32 SAT Prep Courses Considered

  • PrepMaven
  • Khan Academy
  • The Princeton Review
  • Magoosh
  • Kaplan
  • Prep Expert
  • Kranse Institute
  • PrepScholar
  • Peterson’s
  • Ivy Bound
  • College Prep Genius
  • Varsity Tutors
  • Sylvan
  • Green Test Prep
  • Higher Scores Test Prep
  • ePrep
  • Excel Test Prep
  • Best in Class
  • Testive
  • CollegeVine
  • Prepare
  • College Drive
  • Love the SAT
  • Method Learning
  • SAT Blitz
  • The Answer Class
  • Trudeau Prep
  • Test Prep 4 Success
  • Private Prep
  • Manhattan Review
  • Olive Book
  • Veritas
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What is the SAT?

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 schools have instituted a temporary test-optional policy as a response to Covid. However, based on the available data, students at competitive schools are still submitting test scores.)

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.

For students whose grades may have slipped during high school, test scores can also be used to show admissions officers your potential.

Finally, test scores are a handy tool for students to figure out where they might be a competitive applicant. Wondering if you have a chance at getting into Harvard? Not sure if University of Illinois is a reach school or a safety school for you? Test scores can help you there.

Check out our other posts for more information about how the SAT is scored, when to take the SAT, and how the SAT is different from the ACT. We also have many free test prep resources.

For more test prep guidance, schedule a call with Jessica or one of our founders today!

* 2.2 million students of the class of 2020 took the SAT, a record high. Due to Covid, this number dipped to 1.5 million for the class of 2021 (via the College Board).

Princeton University
Princeton University

Why take an SAT prep course?

You may want to consider a SAT prep course if you:

  • Have no idea where to start in order to prepare for the SAT
  • You feel overwhelmed by all of the different SAT prep books and materials and don’t know which to choose
  • You have a hard time keeping yourself on track and want an external structure to hold you accountable
  • You’re not sure how to track your progress
  • You’ve been practicing on your own but your gains have plateaued
  • You have a limited amount of time and need to be efficient in your studying
  • You want to learn techniques for managing test anxiety
  • You want insider tips about test strategies

In our SAT prep course, we typically see students increase their scores by about 100–300 points. This can have a significant impact on college admissions and scholarships.

Stanford University
Stanford University

What makes a good SAT prep course?

Guidance with SAT prep comes in two main forms: group classes or individual tutoring. Many students combine the two, following an SAT group class with one-on-one tutoring to focus on a tailored approach for that student’s strengths and weaknesses.

In this post, though, we focused on SAT group classes.

These days, many courses are online. This allows students to seek out the best classes regardless of their physical location, which is great! It’s up to the individual student and their situation to decide whether in-person classes or online classes are the best fit.

PrepMaven SAT class

The most important aspect of a good SAT prep course is the teacher. Excellent classes should be taught by experienced instructors who know the test inside and out and have many years helping students. The instructors should be people who scored highly on the test themselves, ideally in the top 1%

Classes should begin with a diagnostic test and a detailed score report to analyze a student’s starting point.

A good SAT prep class will also encourage students and help them reduce their test anxiety. If your prep course is making you feel anxious, it might not be the right fit!

All good SAT prep courses will review the content covered by the exam as well as test-taking strategies

Now more than ever with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, many students have gaps in their knowledge where their schooling was interrupted. A good SAT class will fill in these gaps by teaching fundamental math and grammar concepts.

Classes should provide students with study materials and guide students in using them effectively

Many good SAT prep courses will assign structured homework so that students can practice constructively with official test questions. There are a limited number of official practice tests, so it’s important to make the most of them! 

Good classes will help students work through missed problems and answer students’ questions.

The best SAT prep courses can also help students to make a holistic study plan and keep them on track, so that parents don’t have to be involved directly. 

Schedule a free 15- to 30-minute consultation with Jessica or one of our founders.


Summary

Best overall: 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. 

Best self-guided: For self-guided online SAT practice, it doesn’t get much better than 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 self-guided courses unless students have already exhausted the resources available for free from Khan Academy and the College Board.

Best on a budget: For families looking for SAT prep with an instructor under $400, Magoosh’s Guided Live Classes are a good option. They provide 16 hours of live instruction and guarantee a score increase of at least 100 points. We like that students have the ability to ask the instructor study questions via email or chat.

Best of the big test prep companies: Of the big test prep companies, The Princeton Review's SAT classes are the best option. (Note that they have no connection to Princeton University.) The downside with a big company is that you don't know who the instructor will be or what their qualifications are, and students receive less individualized attention.

PrepMaven SAT class

As an alternative, families might want to consider purchasing a few hours of one-on-one SAT tutoring. Because individual tutoring sessions can be tailored to the needs of the specific student, they’re often more efficient than group classes and can hone in on the best way for that student to raise their score rather than general strategies.


Next steps

Ready to begin a SAT prep course? Schedule a 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.

It’s always best to start early and not wait until the last minute to prepare for the SAT! Remember that test scores can be used to earn scholarships as well as college admission, so a few months of study now can pay off with up to $300,000 in tuition saved later. 

Students who achieve their goal score earlier on in high school can relax and not worry about testing at the end of their junior year (the most important year for grades, and when many students are focused on AP tests) or in the beginning of their senior year, when most students are working on college essays

High-achieving students will also want to take the PSAT seriously, as it offers another opportunity to win big scholarship money through the National Merit program.

To start an SAT prep course or one-on-one SAT tutoring today, set up a quick free consultation with our team.

pencil for taking the SAT