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.

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