Author K. Bromberg once said, “Time is precious; waste it wisely.”1 I’d wager, however, that she hadn’t made that pronouncement after spending nearly $1,000 and countless hours of commute time on SAT® tutoring.
One of the main benefits of the Digital SAT is that the new exam format isn’t just about a new way to take the test; it also changes how you get ready for it. In this article, we’ll look at how quality online preparation for the Digital SAT makes historically expensive and time-consuming test prep more accessible, and why it matters for students like you.
A History Lesson: What Test Prep Looked Like in the Past
The SAT was first administered in 1926, and in the span of nearly a century, SAT prep has taken different forms, including SAT prep textbooks, workbooks, and, within the past couple decades, online resources.2 In the early 1900s, students had limited study materials, and the focus was on assessing general knowledge and reasoning abilities. They primarily relied on their high school coursework for preparation, and there was less emphasis on intensive test preparation.
Moving into the 1950s, the SAT test prep industry began to emerge, offering printed test prep books and materials.2 Private tutors and test prep centers started to offer coaching for the SAT, but very few students had physical and/or financial access to these resources.
SAT Test Prep: A Historical Timeline
- In the early years of the SAT, there were few dedicated study materials.
- The test focus was on assessing general knowledge and reasoning abilities.
- Students primarily relied on their high school coursework to prepare.
- The SAT had less influence on college admissions, and there was less emphasis on intensive test preparation.
- During this period, the SAT test prep industry began to emerge.
- Students had access to printed test prep books and materials.
- Private tutors and test prep centers started to offer coaching for the SAT.
Late 20th Century
- The SAT test prep industry continued to grow, with more printed materials and coaching options.
- Computer software programs for SAT test prep became available.
- Test prep companies offered specialized courses, both in-person and through software.
- SAT test prep is largely digital, with a wide range of online resources, courses, and practice tests.
- Students have access to interactive test prep tools and platforms, like UWorld.
- Online SAT test prep is widely accessible.
- Many students benefit from customized study plans that focus on their individual strengths and weaknesses.
In recent years, the SAT itself has undergone changes, the most notable change being the recent emergence of a digital version. As a result, many test prep methods have begun to adapt to align with the new digital format. This is no surprise, either, as there are quite a few limitations to the traditional model of in-person tutoring for SAT test preparation.
Learning from the Past: The Limitations of Traditional SAT Prep
Traditional SAT preparation often involves in-person classes and private tutors. While these methods can be effective, they do present significant challenges for many students, often making them inaccessible. These challenges underscore the need for more accessible and flexible alternatives, such as the Digital SAT and online affordable Digital SAT prep options, which aim to provide students with better opportunities to prepare effectively for the exam.
Many students, particularly those in rural areas or regions with limited educational resources, face geographical barriers.3 The nearest in-person test prep centers or tutoring facilities are often located at a significant distance from their homes.
Even in urban and suburban areas, high schools don’t always have the financial resources to offer in-person test prep programs.4 This limitation leaves students to either find private tutoring, which can be very expensive, or try to make do with studying on their own.
In both rural and urban settings, the lack of convenient transportation options can also limit a student’s access to in-person test prep.3 Students must frequently rely on their own or their parents’ transportation, often leading to time-consuming and tiring commutes.
Traveling to and from in-person test prep locations consumes a significant amount of time, leaving students with less time for actual practice and study.4 This time loss can add a lot of stress to a student’s already demanding schedule, including homework and extracurricular activities.
Limited options in highly-populated areas:
Even in some highly-populated cities, many students struggle with commuting to test prep centers due to traffic congestion, long subway rides, or lengthy walks. This is not only time-consuming but physically exhausting, leaving students with less energy for effective study.
Saira H., a Class of 1998 valedictorian and University of Virginia alumnae, shared her own experience with in-person tutoring barriers in high school:
“Living in a rural area, I had to endure a three-hour round trip to the nearest Kaplan tutoring center. This time-consuming journey left me with limited time for actual practice, impacting my score. This isn’t just a problem for students who live in the countryside, either. Students who live in some urban areas also struggle with this. So, let’s say you live in a highly-populated city, like Dallas. You’re trying to do your test prep, but your tutoring center is in Frisco, which is about 15 miles away which is equivalent to 45 minutes at peak traffic periods. Since you have to sit in traffic for a long time just to get there, you’re in the same situation. You’re just stuck in the car for about an hour, getting to and from the [tutoring center], just to do test prep. And if you’re in a city with mass transit, like New York, you may have to take a long subway ride and then walk a long way just to get to tutoring. And after you take the same walk and subway ride back, you’re going to be tired. The truth is, the challenge of commuting affects most students, regardless of where they live.”
Accessible Learning: Digital Access Test Prep for a Digital SAT
The Digital SAT is changing the game for test prep, especially with quality online resources like UWorld’s Digital SAT online prep tool. These tools effectively negate the limitations of in-person tutoring.
Study any time, anywhere:
Digital SAT prep is incredibly flexible and convenient for students. It’s geographically more accessible, and the absence of the need to commute to an in-person tutoring center saves significant time.5
Significantly less expensive than tutoring:
While there are numerous Digital SAT test prep materials available, even the high-quality ones are significantly more affordable than in-person tutors.6 This affordability is a crucial factor for students and parents alike.
Quality Digital SAT prep offers tailored support through targeted practice questions. Students can pinpoint areas for growth and address misconceptions using straightforward data reports, making it feel like they have a personal tutor available anytime and anywhere.5
Realistic practice questions:
Quality Digital SAT prep programs provide realistic practice test questions, helping students become familiar with the test format and time constraints, ultimately enhancing their test-day performance.7
High-quality Digital SAT prep provides instant feedback on practice tests and questions. UWorld’s in-depth answer explanations help students clear up misconceptions and truly understand the material needed for the SAT. This immediate feedback enables students to identify areas for improvement, making their study sessions more effective. With quality Digital SAT prep, students don’t need an expensive or distant SAT tutor to receive valuable feedback and make progress.
Continuing to reflect on her experience with SAT prep in high school, Saira shared:
“With all of the time I lost from in-person tutoring at Kaplan, I was exhausted. If I’d had access to [UWorld] 30 years ago, I would have only needed a fraction of the time dedicated to SAT prep instead of the six hours I was losing every week in transit and unfocused passive learning. If I’d had this then, then I would have been able to take an hour, four days a week, and would have been able to accomplish so much more. I would have been able to achieve a much higher score gaining access to scholarships and even higher ranking colleges.”
In contrast, Shanivi S. (a Class of 2020 Valedictorian and Harvard student) shared this about her experience using UWorld for her college prep:
“UWorld made a big difference in my life, as it allowed me to adequately prepare for the SAT and receive a good score on the exam. As a result, I was able to apply to more selective institutions, such as Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, and get acceptances from all of them.Coming from a school district where the majority of students were economically disadvantaged, having UWorld as a resource was very, very helpful, and the SAT pilot program your company did with us was life-changing. Now I am a rising senior at Harvard College studying human development biology and preparing for the MCAT exam.”
A Learning Investment in Your Future
Quality Digital SAT test prep isn’t just a cost; it’s a smart investment in your future. It offers you the opportunity to approach SAT preparation in a way that is accessible to you. Instead of viewing it as a financial burden, see it as an accessible investment in your future educational goals and opportunities.
The tools provided by programs like UWorld College Prep make SAT preparation more accessible, so embrace the Digital SAT, take advantage of the resources available, and start your journey toward achieving your academic goals.
- Bromberg, K. (n.d.). Quotable Quote. Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/6608687-time-is-precious-waste-it-wisely
- Carlton, G. (2022, August 15). A brief history of the SAT: Bestcolleges. BestColleges.com. https://www.bestcolleges.com/blog/history-of-sat/
- Rapaport, A., & Silver, D. (2023, March 10). Two percent of U.S. children receive high quality tutoring, despite billions funneled into school systems. USC Schaeffer. https://healthpolicy.usc.edu/evidence-base/two-percent-of-u-s-children-receive-high-quality-tutoring-despite-billions-funneled-into-school-systems/#:~:text=Barriers%20to%20delivery&text=Finding%20qualified%20tutors%2C%20navigating%20students,we%20know%20will%20help%20students!
- National Student Support Accelerator. (2023, July). NSSA Research Report: Challenges and Solutions to Implementing Tutoring at Scale. studentssupportaccelerator.org. https://studentsupportaccelerator.org/sites/default/files/Early%20Lessons%20from%20Implementing%20High-Impact%20Tutoring%20at%20Scale.pdf
- Wierman, M. (2022, October 25). 3 reasons to use tech in your test prep efforts. Edmentum Blog. https://blog.edmentum.com/3-reasons-use-tech-your-test-prep-efforts
- Fetahagic, S., & Piqosity. (2023, August 22). Is online act test prep worth it?. Piqosity. https://www.piqosity.com/is-act-prep-online-worth-it/#:~:text=Private%20tutoring%20and%20test%20prep,keep%20themselves%20accountable%20and%20motivated.
- Benefits of taking a full-length digital sat practice test. – College Board Blog. (2023). https://blog.collegeboard.org/benefits-taking-sat-practice-test
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Digital SAT prep platforms like UWorld support English language learners by providing vocabulary support, visual aids, and the flexibility to remove time restrictions. This helps ELL students understand and navigate the test, making their preparation more effective.