SAT Prep FAQs: Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an SAT Company

When looking for an SAT Company to work with for online coaching or at home SAT tutoring, make sure to know about these common mistakes that both parents and students make.

1.  When choosing an SAT tutor many people assume that the larger the company, the better.  Remember the 2 largest companies in the industry have meager results according to the 2010 FISK SAT Guide.  One of them actually had a score decrease from the original starting point, so make certain to ask lots of questions about their SAT Coaching methods and results.

2.  Often parents and teachers assume that SAT tutors assigned to students are adequate.  This is not a good assumption.  You must insist on finding out about the SAT tutors background, experience and history.  Furthermore you must also insist on personally interviewing this person.  If the company is not willing to send someone to your home to meet with you or meet via Skype, my advice is to move on to the next SAT company as that is a fine example of poor business practice.

3.  Many people assume that SAT Prep companies track real data.  In short, the vast majority do not.   I don’t think that they are too stupid to do so I think that they do not want you to know their real results.  In our local market we have researched every company big and small and we have yet to find one that actually tracks their SAT results from every student from beginning to end like we do.  The bottom line is simple.  If a company cannot provide you with hard results, not just a few hand picked testimonials (even if they are really nice people) I encourage you to move on.

4.  Many people try to study for the SAT all by themselves.  Parents often make the mistake that a typical student can easily assimilate the information in a frighteningly huge phonebook size prep book that they will receive from a typical SAT prep company or buy themselves from their local bookstore.  If a SAT prep company hasn’t taken the time or effort to simplify the information to make it easily digestible for the students then the chances of success are largely diminished.  The best question to ask is “What study materials are used during the course?”

5.  Many people assume that the practice test used by a SAT prep company are close to the real deal.  This is often not the case.  If a company is not using an actual Diagnostics Test, SAT practice tests, or SAT materials from the SAT test maker then there will be a considerable difference from what is being learned and what is actually on the official exam on test day resulting in confusion and poor performance.

6.  Students and parents alike tend to assume that a typical SAT prep company teaches test-taking strategies.  Again most SAT prep companies, like school teachers, are caught up in this insane memorize and regurgitate loop.  The private schools do the same thing, but maybe at a slightly higher level.  The memorize and regurgitate method is entirely insufficient.  I’ve seen hoards of bright students (before they become our clients) wither and die during the SAT or ACT due to test anxiety, intimidation, overwhelm, lack of sleep, fear, stress, poor nutrition or low energy; And the fact is stress substantially decreases brain function.  This strategy doesn’t work very well on a 4 to 5 hour exam like the SAT or ACT. Therefore, the company does not address these crucial issues (and very few do) then you need to move on.

7.  Last but not least, don’t make the mistake of assuming academic knowledge alone is enough to beat the SAT or ACT because it is not!  There is a huge gap between what is taught in schools and the critical thinking skills necessary to achieve SAT dominance.  For example, in school 99% of math problems are formulas, whereas the math on the SAT or ACT is 100% word problems.

Students need to learn how to read more efficiently, omitting strategies for the SAT, understand the terrain of the test, and other strategies not covered in school dynamics.

Lastly, large SAT prep groups or classes don’t work very well!  There is no accountability to parents, kids are spending more time socializing and texting with each other than learning test strategies. It is almost impossible to provide individualize attention to particular students to help them improve. That is why we only do in-home or online individual SAT prep.  With a rare exception of group SAT prep of only 2-3 students at a time.  However, Individual SAT prep is far more superior to other groups.


Steve Kirshenbaum, M.S. is an Educational Consultant and Founder of SAT Preparation Group, which specializes in in-home SAT coaching throughout Southern Florida and online SAT coaching throughout the world! SAT Preparation Group coaches on SAT, SSAT, ACT, GRE, college planning, and success strategies for teens. Call Us Today for a Free Consultation 877-672-8773 or visit us online at


SAT Preparation Group advises in test prep, college planning, and success strategies for teens. Call Us Today at 877-672-8773 or click here for a free consultation.

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