Pros and Cons of 8 Online Test Prep Programs


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About to take the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, or ACT? Having trouble deciding which test preparation website is the best? Look no further! Here, I present 8 of the best online test preparation programs I have found. I've sifted through hundreds of pages of information and boiled down the essentials for each site to just 2 pages. The companies I compare are: ACT, College Board, Kaplan, Princeton Review, Beestar, Edsortium, Grockit, and Method Test Prep. Hopefully you will learn some things and save some valuable time that would have otherwise been spent looking at hundreds of test prep reviews ! Good luck :)

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Pros and Cons of 8 Online Test Prep Programs

  1. Pros and Cons of 8 Top Online Test Preparation ProgramsBy: Michelle Goins,Teacher and Professional SAT TutorE-mail:
  2. The Major Programs ACT ( College Board ( Kaplan ( Princeton Review (
  3. The Growing Programs Beestar ( Edsortium ( Grockit ( Method Test Prep (
  4. BeestarPrice: SAT Math: Free Advanced Math $40/semester SAT Vocabulary: $40/semester SAT Reading/Writing: $30/semesterFriendly and straightforward.Bi-weekly exams test students’ knowledge of Reading/Writing, Vocabulary,Math, and/or Advanced Math concepts covered on PSAT, SAT, and ACT. The Pros:•Exercises gradually increase in difficulty, with emphasis on speed andaccuracy•SAT Math is free (as are sample exams for other subjects)•They seem genuinely interested in helping students to do well, and do notpush sales.•They don’t seem to spam or send annoying e-mails/letters/phone calls likesome of the bigger companies tend to do.
  5. Beestar The Cons: •For those taking the ACT, there is no science section •Not as interactive/customized as some of the other sites •11th and 12th grade content is not fully developed yet (though, from what I have seen, much of the content covered on the 9th and 10th grade exams is fairly advanced and relevant to juniors and seniors). Unique Bonus Features:•Excellent referral program. For each 2 successful referrals, you get a freesemester of any subject. *Please list my e-mail ( if you signup for this website, and I will donate the referral credit to my students.•Weekly competitions in each subject. [Everyone loves these!] Allows studentsto see how they compare to other students in their grade level. Memberscompete to earn virtual trophies, medals, and ribbons.•There is also a fully developed sister site for grades 1-8, which has referralbenefits and weekly competitions as well.
  6. EdsortiumPrice: $575 for 4, 2-hour sessions Offers online SAT courses in a “virtual classroom” The Pros:•The site seems to assume a high level of academic performance andintegrity in its users (which is generally good for helping boostconfidence levels and reduce test anxiety)•Instructor has an impressive history of teaching test preparation(including founding the Princeton Review of Tennessee)•Accelerated courses are available for highly motivated students
  7. Edsortium The Cons:•Their method is based on the premise that students know everythingthe need to know to score perfectly on the SAT and ACT by the end ofthe 8th grade. (In my professional opinion, I think that should be thecase, but I don’t think that it is for most students I have encountered.)•It seems fairly expensive for the amount of instruction received Unique Bonus Features:•Class recordings are available for playback if you miss or need to reviewsomething.•There is also an option for traditional in-person lessons•The teacher of the online and in-person lessons seems extremelyeloquent, well-trained, and encouraging
  8. Grockit Price: $149.99/16 hours of video $29.99/month $359.88/yearGrockit offers online videocourses and/or one-on-oneindividual tutoring. The Pros: •They have an awesome name (which is an allusion to the wonderful book, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein) •Group study section is free for everyone •Grockit helps match students with potential tutors to suit their needs (for an additional fee). •Shows you how your scores compare to those of entering freshmen of various universities
  9. Grockit The Cons:•All questions are extremely similar to those on the SAT and ACT.While this might be a pro for some, most students find these types ofquestions discouraging, tricky, or even boring. I find that the majorityof students prefer to initially practice with more entertaining questionsthat gradually familiarize them with exam questions. Unique Bonus Features:•Mini tests help you predict your score and target your weaknesses•Grockit allows you to sign in through Facebook and share yourprogress with friends•Free three day trial (doesn’t require that you supply any credit cardinformation)
  10. Method Test PrepPrice: $200 for 14 hours of instruction (Choose SAT or ACT) Short lessons followed by exams test students’ knowledge of SAT and/or ACT content The Pros: •Choose either self-paced or teacher-led classes to suit your learning style •Free study guides and test prep webinars (requires login) •Offers larger-scale programs for schools and school districts •According to the “People of MTP” page, the founder and employees seem very helpful and dedicated to their work •Video, audio, and text explanations for missed problems
  11. Method Test Prep The Cons:•Since classes are broadcast live, you can’t pause, rewind, or catch up ifyou miss them*•The cost of study materials is not covered. (Must buy: The Official SATStudy Guide OR The Real ACT Prep Guide)** Unless you choose the self-paced option Unique Bonus Features:•Access to their free blog with dozens of pages worth of testing andstudying advice•Students can participate in online sessions via text or microphone chat•In person and individual online tutoring available (additional fees mayapply for these options)
  12. ACTPrice: $19.95 for one year This website is created by the actual makers of the ACT. The Pros:•Best all around value (for ACT prep)•You can use the site to register for the exam, view your scores, andpurchase official copies of your scores.•Each day there is a free practice ACT question posted on the website.
  13. ACT The Cons: •Only covers the ACT, not the SAT •It is best to be cautious because they are in fact the makers of the ACT exam. Since the actual ACT is less tricky than the SAT, however, this is probably not an issue. Unique Bonus Features:•Once you purchase the program, you have access to a personalized sectionof the site known as the “fictional city of ACTropolis”. Here you will find allof your practice test scores, as well as a visual representation of which areasof the site you have and haven’t visited.
  14. College Board Price: $69.95 for one yearThe College Board is theorganization that creates the SAT.Their online exam prep courseincludes 10 practice tests and 18interactive lessons. The Pros: • This site offers a free SAT question of the day, and several practice problems. •There is a free full-length practice test (available without purchase) •When you buy the online course ($69.95) AND the book (The Official SAT Study Guide, w/ DVD - $31.99), you get a discount of $10.95 taken off at checkout.
  15. College Board The Cons:•Only covers the SAT, not the ACT•Since they are the makers of the exam, they have an incentive to maintain abell curve when it comes to student test scores (i.e., they may want goodstudents to score well, average students to score average, and poorly performingstudents to continue performing poorly). There is no evidence that this hasaffected their preparation techniques, but it is best to be aware of that factwhen considering this program. Unique Bonus Features•You use the same website to actually register for the SAT.•This website allows you to view your scores and purchase officialcopies of your scores to send to universities.
  16. KaplanPrice: $299 for 6 months $20 90-minute cram sessions (either Math or Reading) Individualized test preparation for various exams (PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, ACT) The Pros:•Their website is the most visually appealing.•There is an instructional video for every topic covered on the exams•Also offers preparation for AP, ASVAB, and SAT Subject tests.•They apparently have a great deal of practice questions available onceyou register for one of their programs.
  17. Kaplan The Cons:•Once you’re on their mailing list, it is very difficult to get off.•Their sales people are EXTREMELY motivated to sell you theirproducts and services.•You can’t really take advantage of their free services unless you providethem with your contact information.•They may value marketing and aesthetics over service quality. Unique Bonus Features:•Free Turbo Test that predicts your score•It’s hard to find out much more information without signing up, so ifyou find out anything, feel free to let me know!
  18. Princeton Review Price: Math= $169 (self-guided) Verbal= $169 (self-guided) $299 for both (Live online course = $599 Individual Tutoring $2760-$6600)Filled with testing strategiesand tricks that will most likely improve your score The Pros: •This site is especially helpful if you are cramming. •This company’s books are excellent testing guides. •This is a good option for students who already have a fairly good grasp of the subject matter to get an extra boost •Several options are available to suit different learning styles and price ranges
  19. Princeton Review The Cons:•Their site has an abundance of information, but it can be difficult tofind answers to all of your questions.•This may lead you to call or chat with them. As with Kaplan, theirrepresentatives are VERY motivated to sell you products and services.•While they have many tricks that help on the test, what you learndoesn’t help much too much with the actual subject matter. Unique Bonus Features:•Offers prep courses for various college and grad school exams (GRE,LSAT, MCAT, etc.)as well as the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, and ACT.•There are also programs for individual tutoring and as well as in-personclassroom instruction•Website include a wealth of information about various college-relatedtopics
  20. To Recap:
  21. Thanks for watching! Michelle Goins