top of page

SAT Tutoring Near Me - How to choose the best test prep method?

If you're serious about improving your SAT scores, it's time to think about preparing to find a great SAT tutor close to you. You have several options for how you want to go about this, whether it's online group courses, individual lessons, or private tutoring; which one should you choose? Don't worry—that's what we'll cover in this article, so read!

Before we start, we want to say it clearly: We are an SAT and ACT prep company (with great results, might I add), so whatever you do, make sure that you check out multiple test prep companies and choose whichever program feels like it best fits your child. That said, our advice is based on years of personal experience working with hundreds of students 1-on-1 and many research studies on SAT and ACT prep efficacy, learning psychology, and more.

Table of Contents Factors to consider

Factors to Consider When Choosing an SAT or ACT Prep Program

Regarding tutoring, there are many different options available—both in terms of type (online courses, group workshops, private tutoring) and scope (tutoring for one subject or all-encompassing test prep). However, before you go invest in a test prep program, you'll want to consider a few things:

How flexible is your schedule?

Do you have a hard-core schedule this semester and are jam-packed with activities? Do you need something that accommodates last-minute sports games or adjusts to your homework load? Or is your program pretty wide open?

How do you learn best?

Remember, every student learns differently, so make sure your SAT or ACT tutor works with your learning style is essential. What works for one person may not work for another. You should know going into your search which learning style works best for you: auditory (listening), visual (seeing), or kinesthetic (doing). Your ideal SAT tutoring option will be able to accommodate your learning style; if they don't, consider finding someone who does as your backup plan (like Strive to Learn)

What's your timeline?

Do you have 2-3 months before your upcoming SAT or ACT test? Or do you need crash course instruction? Choosing the right time to start studying for your SAT and ACT is crucial to score improvement.

How much are you looking to improve?

Suppose you are using your scores to try and gain access to a merit scholarship or particular college. In that case, you'll need to know exactly how much you need to improve. How do you find this out? Take a practice SAT or ACT, of course! (Strive to Learn offers free proctored and self-timed practice SAT and ACT tests) You'll want to have a goal score in mind when you are thinking about preparing for your SAT or ACT. But don't choose your goal score blindly!

What's your ideal study environment?

While some students need that in-person touch, most online programs are equally good under the right circumstances. If you're an online learner, take an online course that offers more than just video lectures and some practice tests.

How much do you have to spend?

SAT and ACT test prep depends really on your budget. If you only have a few hundred to spend, you'll be capped at the self-studying methods. More extensive, robust, and effective programs easily range from $1,000 to $6,000.

The high correlation between income and SAT/ACT scores is why organizations like call the system unfair. It has propelled many colleges college's movements to go test-optional or test-blind/test-free.

Three Models of ACT and SAT Prep

Self-studying (via book or online course).

Although this method may be the most affordable and prolific test prep tutoring option, it's also the least effective in improving your scores. A few years back, research scientists looked at the results of a pilot program that released the ACT's online test prep portal to students for a year, entirely for free.

What did they find? Nothing. They couldn't even compare their results. Too many students either never utilized the ACT prep platform or only did so right before their actual test (limiting their score improvement). Research on the SAT and test prep efficacy consistently show that self-studying has the lowest score improvement of all test prep methods. Why? Because these tests are freaking hard, it takes a certain kind of student to want to bash their head against a metaphorical brick wall thousands of times.

So unless you are an extremely dedicated student with a high tolerance for frustration, we suggest that most students skip this method.


Inexpensive. Flexible. For highly self-motivated students with a high tolerance for frustration.

Cons: Little to no score improvement.

Group Classes/Workshops

Group classes are usually cheaper than private lessons, which makes them a good option for people who don't want to spend too much money. But there are some downsides to group classes. First, you may not get enough individual attention. Think about it. Teachers need to do what they need to raise students' scores on a group level, so they may not take the time needed to address their learning barriers or what they are struggling with. Second, students often feel shy asking questions in a group setting, which will happen if they have trouble understanding a concept. Third, group classes aren't always flexible. If you miss a session, you won't be able to reschedule (typically). Finally, group classes tend to focus on the basics. That's fine if you're looking to brush up on your skills before taking the test, but if you're trying to improve your score, you may feel like you're missing out on valuable practice.

Pros: Somewhat more affordable. Good for students that need just the basics.

Cons: Little to no flexibility (depending on the program) and small to moderate score improvement.

Private Tutoring

The creme de la creme of SAT and ACT prep: 1-on-1 instruction. Private SAT and ACT tutoring is the best way to prepare for the SAT and ACT because it allows students to study individually with a teacher who can customize their lessons to their specific needs. Students learn how to apply the knowledge they've gained through practice exams and homework assignments tailored to their needs (however the degree of customization depends on the company). They're held accountable for their progress and receive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. Research has shown that private 1-on-1 SAT or ACT tutoring is the only methodology to have shown statistically significant improvement in student scores (and is 60% more effective than group classes). Does that mean all of those testimonials about group SAT prep are lying? No! It just means they couldn't rule out luck.

But there are some caveats. You'll want to ensure that your tutor understands how to teach to your child's learning style, can accommodate their schedule (and your budget), and can customize how they teach, so your child truly learns. There are a few more considerations, so read these tips before hiring a test prep tutor.

Pros: The most flexible (depending on the company), the most significant score gains.

Cons: It can be pricey (depending on the company).

Why Strive to Learn is the Best ACT and SAT Test Prep.

We would be remiss if we didn't actively flaunt all of the ways that we are awesome at helping students

1-on-1 instruction

At Strive to Learn, private SAT and ACT tutors specialize in 1-on-1 instruction. That's right, we don't offer group workshops or classes because we like to spend our time doing things that work.

Less homework with better results

Our SAT prep method focuses on what you need to learn, not your classmate or a stranger. So you can spend less time studying and more time improving. We also actively reinforce sessions at home through our dynamic curriculum and homework assignments that micro-target specific academic skill sets. Our students outperform their peers by 2.4x more than other test prep companies.

Reinforced Learning

Strive to Learn is the only small tutoring center in Orange County that uses next-generation tools like our online learning platform on top of live 1-on-1 sessions. Our online learning platform allows students to get immediate insight into which questions they got right (and wrong), allowing our SAT and ACT tutors to create a customized program unmatched by other centers.

Our materials

Unlike other small tutoring centers, we utilize our materials that have been tweaked so that the content is easy and digestible to learn.

Flexible Scheduling and Payment Plans

Got a heavy week of schoolwork? No problem! We'll adjust our curriculum so that your kid can balance their responsibilities and mental health. Our SAT and ACT programs won't break the bank with various installment plans and packages. Our private SAT and ACT tutors are also available Monday - Sunday, 10 am to 7 pm.

In-person or Online

If you are located near costa mesa or the Newport beach area in orange county, then you are in luck! Our tutors can come to your home or favorite location to tutor you there on the spot. However, our online tutoring is just as effective with whiteboarding and active problem-solving.