I need help preparing for the SAT, but I can't afford a tutor or a prep class. What can I do?


Amir Mousavi, Tutor, Dog Lover, Yogi

User avatar for Amir Mousavi

I would also check out some of the free online resources. A couple sites to check out are Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org) and The ANA Project (http://www.anaprojectprep.org).

In terms of study tips for the math section, I would highly recommend keeping track of problems you get wrong/give you trouble and revisit them to make sure you fully understand them. Many students make flash cards of these problems which is an excellent study tool.

The SAT also tests the same types of questions regarding the same concept over and over and over again, so its very important to understand them so you won't keep getting the same question types incorrect. For example, if you get a question special right triangle (30-60-90 or 45-45-90) problem wrong, make sure you understand the concept, because you will likely see it pop up again. Hope that helps!

Robyn Scott, Educational Consultant, TutorNerds LLC

User avatar for Robyn Scott


I would start by getting a test prep book from the College Board (free at the library). You can also access tons of free learning materials from their website. https://sat.collegeboard.org/practice At this point, make sure you know which SAT you're taking, the current or redesigned. Your last chance ever to take the current SAT is in January. So unless you are a college senior, focus on the redesigned SAT. https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat

With a library card or internet access from the computers at school, you have a lot at your finger tips but you'll need determination.

1) Take a free practice exam from the College Board site. Identify your weaknesses and focus on those. However, review your strengths so you don't forget important material.

2) Devote 1 hour a day M-TH to study and allow F as a break day.

3) Take another practice exam 2 months from your start. A reasonable overall increase would be about 100 points on the current exam or about 75 points on the redesigned exam.

Good luck!

Kendra Whitmire, Test Prep Tutor

User avatar for Kendra Whitmire

As many of the answers have stated, one great resource is the book published by the College Board, as well as other test prep companies such as the Princeton Review and Kaplan. You can find these at your local library, but be sure that you have the latest edition. The SAT has gone through some recent changes, so you want to be working with the latest information. These books have practice tests and provide some hints on how to succeed in the test. You can also find some apps to download to your smartphone or tablet that have review questions and other test prep help. Some of them cost money, but it would be less than a tutor or test prep course. You can often find at least vocabulary flash cards that are free apps.

The one downside of doing it on your own is that you do not have the accountability that you do if you have a tutor or test prep class. As Robyn mentioned, it becomes more important that you schedule yourself time to practice for the test, just as you would do if you were seeing a tutor or attending a class. With so much going on, it is easy to put off your studying and end up not taking the time to prepare. If you do not think you have the discipline to study on your own, you can ask a parent, teacher, or friend to be your accountability buddy to help make sure you put in the time and effort.

Colleen Clemens, College Professor, Writer, Editor, Tutor & Parent

User avatar for Colleen Clemens

Your local library should have copies of SAT and ACT books that you can use, though I have found they often have writing in them. Have you considered seeing if a tutor in your area is willing to do a group session that would make some individual attention more affordable? This service says it offers test prep online at a lower price (I cannot attest to its value, but its mission does mention low income students as an audience). Many cities offer tutoring services to students that cannot foot the exorbitant fees such a service fetches in a city. NYC's site is here. I wish you all the best.

Matthew Clemens, Physics and Math Teacher, Parent, and Tutor

User avatar for Matthew Clemens

The new SAT book by the College Board offers an explanation for every answer in the book. You could always do the practice, review the answers, and ask a teacher to explain the few answers that still just don't make sense. I second the use of Khan Academy. The College Board has a decent site that offers resources on a daily basis. Your community may have a program such as this. And remember the SAT has a registration waiver.

Anonymous, Former graduate student

There are many avenues for preparing for the SAT without using a tutor or prep class. One effective way that I've personally used myself is through SAT books. When I was preparing for the GRE, I used nothing but a book (GRE for Dummies) to prepare myself, and I think I did fairly well. The same goes for the SAT. Many of the companies that offer prep classes also sell prep books. These are a less-expensive way to prepare yourself. Kaplan makes some great SAT prep books and the company that creates the SAT tests, CollegeBoard, makes books as well. If you're looking for something even less expensive, or something to supplement a prep book, you can always use online resources as well. The CollegeBoard website offers a free SAT practice test and there are no shortages of practice SAT tests that you can't find using a Google search. The same goes for SAT preparation. A simple Google search will yield countless resources that can adequately prepare you for the SAT. Best of luck to you!

Your Answer