The Lucrative Business of SAT Test Prep Is About to Get Disrupted

The Lucrative Business of SAT Test Prep Is About to Get Disrupted

Flickr/Newton Free Library
By Beth Braverman

For years, critics of the SAT have claimed that wealthy students who can afford expensive, private test prep courses have a leg up on poorer students without access to such classes. 

That just changed. Starting yesterday, all students can access free, high-quality online test prep via a new partnership between the College Board, which administers the test, and online course powerhouse Khan Academy, a nonprofit supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Ann and John Doerr among others. The online program will include quizzes, video lessons and personalized lessons. 

The Official SAT Practice will focus on the recently redesigned SAT, with questions created by the tests’ authors.

Related: SAT Tests: Another Drain on the Family Budget

College test preparation is a $4.5 billion business. Private SAT tutors charge in excess of $100 per hour and classes from companies like Kaplan or Princeton Review run about $1,000. And those classes may help. Students from the wealthiest families have average test scores that are more than 300 points higher than students from the poorest families on average, according to the College Board.

In recent years, more colleges have moved away from the SAT and its competitor, the ACT, as a backlash against the tests have grown. 

More than 850 schools have made the tests optional for admission, according to advocacy group FairTest, choosing instead to focus on class grades and other factors. A study released last year of undergrads at those schools found no difference in either the GPAs or the graduation rates of students who took the SATs versus those that skipped it.

Clarifying the Drop in Obamacare Premiums

An insurance store advertises Obamacare in San Ysidro, California
© Mike Blake / Reuters
By The Fiscal Times Staff

We told you Thursday about the Trump administration’s announcement that average premiums for benchmark Obamacare plans will fall 1.5 percent next year, but analyst Charles Gaba says the story is a bit more complicated. According to Gaba’s calculations, average premiums for all individual health plans will rise next year by 3.1 percent.

The difference between the two figures is produced by two very different datasets. The Trump administration included only the second-lowest-cost Silver plans in 39 states in its analysis, while Gaba examined all individual plans sold in all 50 states.

Number of the Day: $132,900

istockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The cap on Social Security payroll taxes will rise to $132,900 next year, an increase of 3.5 percent. (Earnings up to that level are subject to the Social Security tax.) The increase will affect about 11.6 million workers, Politico reports. Beneficiaries are also getting a boost, with a 2.8 percent cost-of-living increase coming in 2019.

Photo of the Day: Kanye West at the White House

President Trump speaks during a meeting with rapper Kanye West in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington
KEVIN LAMARQUE/Reuters
By Yuval Rosenberg

This is 2018: Kanye West visited President Trump at the White House Thursday and made a rambling 10-minute statement that aired on TV news networks. West’s lunch with the president was supposed to focus on clemency, crime in his hometown of Chicago and economic investment in urban areas, but his Oval Office rant veered into the bizarre. And since this is the world we live in, we’ll also point out that West apparently became “the first person to ever publicly say 'mother-f***er' in the Oval Office.”

Trump called Kanye’s monologue “pretty impressive.”

“That was bonkers,” MSNBC’s Ali Velshi said afterward.

Again, this is 2018.

Chart of the Day: GDP Growth Before and After the Tax Bill

Paul Ryan with tax return postcard
By The Fiscal Times Staff

President Trump and the rest of the GOP are celebrating the recent burst in economic growth in the wake of the tax cuts, with the president claiming that it’s unprecedented and defies what the experts were predicting just a year ago. But Rex Nutting of MarketWatch points out that elevated growth rates over a few quarters have been seen plenty of times in recent years, and the extra growth generated by the Republican tax cuts was predicted by most economists, including those at the Congressional Budget Office, whose revised projections are shown below.