Research conducted by Emily Kierkegaard, PhD, and expert-reviewed by Kevin Wong, PrepMaven Co-founder

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. StudyPoint – 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 Tutoring Services in 2024

#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: $70 for book or $80 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: $70 for book or $80 for 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 – StudyPoint

Our Verdict — Best on a Budget

Price: $60-120/hour

At fees as low as $60 per hour, StudyPoint tends to be one of the better budget options for SSAT prep. While you can find even cheaper tutors through online marketplaces like Wyzant, you’d be taking a gamble. You’re not likely to get a world-class tutor for $60/hour, but at least StudyPoint offers its SSAT tutors some training.

StudyPoint tutors all need to have two years of experience and a college degree, but they may not necessarily be from an elite college, and they may not have much experience with the SSAT specifically. You might get a fantastic tutor, or you might not. We’d instead 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: $60-120/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: 2 years of experience, plus a Bachelor’s degree

What we like:

  • Larger test prep platform
  • Budget prices
  • Some SSAT-specific training
  • Required qualifications

What we don’t like:

  • Hard to predict quality of tutors
  • No information on track record or results

#5 – Test Innovators

Our Verdict — Best for Self-Directed Test Prep

Price: $79–149 for Lower Level SSAT; $85–399 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 $85 – $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: $150-200/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 without proven SSAT results

Price: $160–200/hour

Based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City, LA Tutors is a larger tutoring company with a wide pool of tutors. Their website does offer a score improvement and tutor satisfaction guarantee. However, we found a few things that lead us to steer clear of their SSAT offerings. Though they have many “success stories” on their site, they don’t have a single one from an SSAT client. And, on their SSAT page, they mention having helped “1,000+” students, which isn’t very many for a larger company. Though LA Tutors have many qualified tutors, it doesn’t seem like the SSAT is their specialty.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $160–200/hour
  • Tutor qualifications: college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing
  • Many qualified tutors

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
  • No testimonials from SSAT clients, and not much of a track record with this test

#8 – Summit Prep

Our Verdict — Less-qualified instructors

Price: $175-250/hour, depending on instructor tier

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. They also don’t have much information on the SSAT on their website or many SSAT testimonials, leading us to conclude that they specialize primarily in other tutoring areas.

At a glance:

  • Cost: $175-250/hr
  • Tutor qualifications: mostly college graduates

What we like:

  • Good insights on their blog about college admissions and testing
  • High reviews for their locations

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
  • Not SSAT specialists — though they offer SSAT prep, it’s clear from their website that they specialize in other areas

#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. They also have fewer testimonials for SSAT tutoring (just 1!) than for their other offerings, so they’re likely not SSAT specialists.

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
  • Only one SSAT testimonial on their site

#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
  • Comprehensive, student-focused approach

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 StudyPoint (similar large platform but with pricing starting at $60/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.

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:

  • Red flag that Kaplan doesn’t offer any one-on-one SSAT tutoring, which suggests they don’t have many SSAT experts
  • 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.

This is especially true at top private schools. According to admissions departments at schools like Lawrenceville or Phillips Exeter, SSAT scores are a mandatory part of the application process.

There’s one other test (the ISEE) that some schools accept as part of the private secondary school application. You can learn more about the ISEE here, though the rest of this post will focus on the SSAT.

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 (including the confusing scoring system) 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. For example, great tutors often excel at helping students master SSAT vocabulary, which is often a stumbling block.

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, helping them prepare for especially difficult parts of the SSAT like the analogies section.

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, StudyPoint offers lessons with trained tutors at a reasonable rate, from $60-120/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.


Top SSAT/ISEE Posts


Emily

Emily graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and holds an MA from the University of Notre Dame. She was a National Merit Scholar and has won numerous academic prizes and fellowships. A veteran of the publishing industry, she has helped professors at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton revise their books and articles. Over the last decade, Emily has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.