Two studies suggest that SAT prep courses and SAT coaching raise the verbal score by about 10 points and the math score by about 20 points:
- A College Board study conducted in the mid 1990s showed that SAT coaching resulted in an average verbal increase of 8 points and an average math score increase of 18 points.
- A 2009 study by NACAC, the National Association of College Admission Counseling, showed that SAT prep courses raised critical reading scores by about 10 points and math scores by about 20 points
That said, the NACAC study revealed that about a third of selective colleges stated that a small increase in standardized test scores could make a difference in their admission decision. Some schools, in fact, have a specific test score set as a cut-off, so if 30 points bring a student over that threshold, test prep could make the difference between acceptance and rejection.
Students and parents need to recognize that standardized test scores do matter at most selective colleges, but they should also note that the modest gains seen with test prep courses and coaching could also be achieved with inexpensive independent or group study.