SAT Tutor vs. SAT Prep vs. SAT Textbooks? | Which to Go For to Ace the Test

Performing well on the SAT exam is something every student wants to achieve but the different methods and ways of preparation leading to the actual test can be a little overwhelming.

Deciding on whether hiring a SAT tutor, joining a SAT prep class or simply sticking to SAT textbooks can be confusing. Here is a breakdown to exactly what these three methods of SAT preparation cater to and which is the best way to prepare you for the test. In addition, before you start, check out all the differences in our new vs old SAT comparison.

In addition, you should focus more on what part of the SAT seems most challenging to you. Here, you can learn how to improve your essay score on the SAT.

SAT Tutor

SAT Tutoring is basically getting one-on-one classes, which can either be on site or online with a professional SAT tutor.

During these classes, the SAT Tutor analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the student and devises a preparation plan according to that.

The teaching and preparation plan are custom built according to the needs of the student. The tutor will focus on concepts that the student is weak in and further sharpen their strong points.

SAT tutors usually teach for around 3-4 hours a week along with providing students with practice tests in the form of homework.

SAT tutors are a student’s best bet if they lack prep time and need someone who can give them their 100% focus and help them in maximizing their score, struggle with certain aspects of the SATs and require a more personalized help or are set in achieving a guaranteed high score.

Pros of SAT Tutors

They Identify your Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the major pros of deciding to opt for a SAT Tutor is that they have the ability to determine your strengths and weaknesses.

After doing so they then create a plan to help you in the best way possible, manage your time and create practice tests accordingly in order to help you achieve the best possible score in your SATs.

They Monitor Progress More Efficiently

Since tutoring sessions with SAT Tutors are on one-to-one basis, they are able to keep track on progress a lot better and then consequently tweak your practice test and further tutoring to ensure that you are well prepared for your test.

Cons of SAT Tutors

Can be Highly Expensive

One of the major cons of hiring a SAT Tutor is that it can take a major toll on your pocket. In most cases, SAT Tutors charge at least $300 dollars an hour.

Success isn’t Guaranteed

Not only is hiring a SAT Tutor extremely expensive, success isn’t assured. In many cases there is a possibility that you won’t find the right tutor. To avoid this it’s best that you hire a tutor whose former students have had success or is working for a reputable SAT tutoring company.

SAT Prep

SAT Prep is a class comprising of a minimum of 15 students in which core SAT reading, writing and math concepts are taught to students along with the structure and strategies of the SATs in order to prepare them for the test.

The SAT prep is mostly conducted over the weekends or in evenings, after school hours and are conducted over a span of a few months.

Pros of SAT Prep

Taken More Seriously

The environment of a SAT prep class whether online or going to a physical classroom, are a lot more structured and therefore may be taken a lot more seriously. Students can also help their peers out with their weak spots.

Study Plan Created for You

With SAT preps you don’t have to worry about creating your own plan or schedule. This is ideal for students who tend to procrastinate and struggle to get things done on time.

SAT prep has a set plan and agenda for all students, which they are required to follow. This includes class schedules, test prep, practice questions and assignments.

Cons of SAT Prep

Not Personalized

You are entirely dependent on what the teacher has planned for you and your personal strength and weaknesses are not taken in to consideration.

Their study plan does not cater to your personal needs and the same sequence of classes with a standard plan is taught to the entire class.

Way too Many Students

Even if you end up with an excellent teacher, which is not always the case, some classes whether virtual or physical have way too many students. In some cases even over 50.

In such cases it might seem hard to get one-on-one support or even get a question in, since most students usually tend to avoid asking questions in a classroom setting either due to shyness or ‘not too sound dumb’.

SAT Textbooks

This is probably the most common and one of the cheapest ways to prepare for your SATs. There are a limitless variety of SAT Textbooks available which guide you through the test taking process.

The top SAT Textbooks usually change every year, therefore before buying, you should always ask for recommendations from your teachers or peers.

SAT Textbooks are all a student need if they are self-motivated, unlikely to procrastinate and have established what they’re strengths and weaknesses are.

Pros of SAT Textbooks

Extremely Cheap

In comparison to SAT Tutor and SAT Prep, investing in good SAT Textbooks is a lot cheaper. Teachers, in most cases, incorporate materials from these books in their study plans, so if you’re focused enough might as well save money and opt for SAT Textbooks.

Great Option for Self-Motivated Students

If you already have a hang of the SAT test process, are motivated to perform well and are doing well thus far, you don’t have to spend a lot of money and hire a tutor or join SAT prep. Once you’ve established your strengths and weaknesses you can prepare on your own through SAT Textbooks.

Cons of SAT Textbooks

Running out of Motivation

The possibility of running out of motivation to prepare for your SAT is extremely high when you’ve decided to opt for SAT Textbooks and chosen to self-study. Teachers tend to keep you motivated and ensure that you are participating and working on getting better at the SATs.

Unable to Self-Diagnose

Many times students aren’t able to pin point their exact strengths and weaknesses the way professionals are. They tend to neglect their weak points which then becomes a factor in them performing poorly in their SATs.


SAT Tutors, SAT Preps and SAT books are all very different modes of preparation for the SATs and they all have their own fair share of pros and cons.

It’s impossible to pick out one method of prep as the best as it depends entirely on the student and what they think is the best mode of action for them.

Author bio:

Adam Shlomi is the founder of SoFlo Tutors, a leader in online SAT Prep. Adam went to Georgetown University, scored a 1570 on the SAT, and has 5 years of test prep experience. SoFlo Tutors has 5.0 ratings on Google and has helped 10,000 students study for the SAT.

Leonard Haggin

I created this site to help students like you learn from the experiences my team had learned during our extensive academic careers. I am now studying Law at Stanford, but I also make time to write articles here in order to help all you fellow students advance in your academic careers and beyond. I hope our efforts on Study Prep Lounge will arm you with the knowledge you need to overcome whatever trial or test you find in front of you.

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