SAT Preparation - Online
A wealth of 2016 SAT preparation materials and services can be found on the internet. Internet-based preparation resources have the obvious advantages of convenience and accessibility, but students preparing for the new SAT should make sure that any online materials they use are credible, useful, and relevant to the test's most recent version.
The SAT section of the College Board website should be viewed by all students taking the test. The site includes important information about registration, scoring, available test centers, and location-specific policies. The College Board also provides a variety of materials that assist students while preparing for the SAT. Students can use the College Board website to create study groups, with included study plans, start-up tips, and practice goals. A free practice app, which can be downloaded to phones and tablets, features daily practice questions, answer hints, and answer explanations. The College Board website provides four SAT practice tests, each complete with scoring guides, answer sheets, and answer explanations, all of which can be downloaded in PDF format free of charge. Test-takers can also find additional sample questions for all of the SAT's content areas.
The College Board has partnered with Khan Academy, a non-profit educational organization founded in 2006, to provide free online SAT instruction. Khan Academy SAT prep features video-recorded lessons that explain SAT content, suggest strategies for approaching questions and answers, and offer study tips. Also included in Khan Academy's SAT prep are short diagnostic quizzes, practice tests, and practice recommendations based on individual progress. Khan Academy is funded through donations from private companies and various charitable organizations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, the O'Sullivan Foundation, and the Skoll Foundation. Khan Academy founder Salman Khan is considered highly influential in educational circles, but he has been criticized for lacking an educator's background. Some researchers have questioned the pedagogical value of Khan Academy's methods, finding the lesson formats to be less than ideal.
A number of private companies offer online SAT instruction, both in video-recorded format and through live online teaching with a professional SAT educator. Live online instruction can be delivered either as prep courses (with multiple enrolled students) or as private one-on-one tutoring. The primary advantages of live online SAT instruction are regular interaction with and feedback from an experienced SAT teacher. Online instruction in this format offers many of same the benefits of in-person SAT prep classes or private tutoring. The main disadvantages of online teaching are the potential for technical problems and the possible distractions of the home environment.
Students taking the 2016 SAT should take advantage of other available web resources when making decisions about their education. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing lists universities with test-optional and test-flexible policies. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is a federal agency that "fulfills a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education." NCES has published a variety of reports relevant to the SAT, on subjects such as average scores of college-bound seniors, SAT scores and demography, and SAT scores in terms of acceptance to selective universities. For students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, focused web searching can find a number of state, local, and private organizations devoted to increasing educational opportunity, such as the Washington Student Achievement Council, a state agency that helps low-income students prepare for and succeed in post-secondary study.
Online preparation options should be considered carefully. Available self-study courses and pre-recorded video instruction have their benefits, but these preparation strategies suffer from the lack of a live teacher. Live online instruction is widely considered to be the most effective available form of online SAT preparation due to the advantages of interaction between student and teacher. Interactive online instruction provides targeted skill development, personalized teaching, feedback, structure, and regular assessment of progress. Students should consider their own learning preferences when evaluating online resources. Students who struggle with their study habits, self-discipline, and attention span are probably not well-suited for online instruction, but proactive learners can excel in this type of framework.