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.

Wealthy Investors Are Worried About Washington, and the Debt

By The Fiscal Times Staff

A new survey by the Spectrem Group, a market research firm, finds that almost 80 percent of investors with net worth between $100,000 and $25 million (not including their home) say that the U.S. political environment is their biggest concern, followed by government gridlock (76 percent) and the national debt (75 percent).

Trump’s Push to Reverse Parts of $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill May Be DOA

By The Fiscal Times Staff

At least two key Republican senators are unlikely to support an effort to roll back parts of the $1.3. trillion spending bill passed by Congress last month, The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis reported Monday evening. While aides to President Trump are working with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on a package of spending cuts, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) expressed opposition to the idea, meaning a rescission bill might not be able to get a simple majority vote in the Senate. And Roll Call reports that other Republican senators have expressed significant skepticism, too. “It’s going nowhere,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said.

Goldman Sees Profit in the Tax Cuts

By Michael Rainey

David Kostin, chief U.S. equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, said in a note to clients Friday cited by CNBC that companies in the S&P 500 can expect to see a boost in return on equity (ROE) thanks to the tax cuts. Return on equity should hit the highest level since 2007, Kostin said, providing a strong tailwind for stock prices even as uncertainty grows about possible conflicts over trade.

Return on equity, defined as the amount of net income returned as a percentage of shareholders’ equity, rose to 16.3 percent in 2016, and Kostin is forecasting an increase to 17.6 percent in 2018. "The reduction in the corporate tax rate alone will boost ROE by roughly 70 [basis points], outweighing margin pressures from rising labor, commodity, and borrow costs," Kostin wrote.

Chart of the Day: A Buying Binge Driven by Tax Cuts

By The Fiscal Times Staff

The Wall Street Journal reports that the tax cuts and economic environment are prompting U.S. companies to go on a buying binge: “Mergers and acquisitions announced by U.S. acquirers so far in 2018 are running at the highest dollar volume since the first two months of 2000, according to Dealogic. Thomson Reuters, which publishes slightly different numbers, puts it at the highest since the start of 2007.”