When students ask me to recommend a good online SAT-prep program, the first company that I mention is usually Magoosh.
Based in Berkeley, California, Magoosh is a team of self-described “education nerds who get super stoked about helping students achieve their academic dreams.”
Magoosh understands that the project of preparing for the SAT rests on three points, like an old-style stool:
Magoosh stands solid on all three legs.
When you register on the Magoosh site, you’re invited to choose among four options:
As you might have guessed by the titles, the four programs differ only in duration. For a certain amount of months, the review program gives you full access to the banquet of Magoosh online study materials:
It’s important to note that, if you’ve taken the SAT before, Magoosh guarantees you’ll improve your old score by at least 100 points if you choose to enroll in one of the premium programs.
There’s also Magoosh Complete Guide to the SAT, a free 250-page ebook that walks you through the entire exam in classic Magoosh style (that is, clear and friendly). It gives you the rundown on both academic and strategic skills, and makes it super easy to connect from there to the next steps in their online practice content.
Finally, all Magoosh students get two helpful apps for studying while they’re out and about:
This is intended for students who are feeling stressed about a test-date that’s coming up in a month or less. You’ll get full access to the Magoosh site for 31 days, plus guidance on essential academic content and test-taking strategies.
All four options are startlingly affordable. Magoosh wants to keep their programs accessible, and they do. They’re a business, but they give you the feeling that they truly care about students’ welfare and success, or as Magoosh puts it on their site, “Wow > Profit.”
The whole experience is 100% online. There are no books to schlep around.
The Magoosh dashboard shows you how you’re doing at a glance. It gives you information on your accuracy, your pace, and what your score might be if you took the test right now. From here, it’s easy to navigate around the rest of the site.
Magoosh teaches mainly through clear, conversational video lessons led by friendly tutors. Each one comes with a transcript so it’s easy to glance back at that one little part that you missed the first time through. If you’re the kind of student who finds chunks of text discouraging, you can also hide the transcripts with a click. Mark each lesson “I understand” or “I need more review,” and the program will guide you to where you need to go. Each one comes with its own FAQ section at the end, which many find very helpful.
As a veteran SAT coach, I know that taking notes is one of the best ways to boost your scores. Magoosh gives you a space where you can jot down private notes on each lesson that you watch. Zip back to the dashboard, and you’ll find all of your notes right there, neatly organized by subject area.
The Review Page gives you a detailed analysis of what you’ve done so far. You can filter questions by subject, question type, and difficulty, and see a summary of your past answers. Together with the dashboard, the Review page makes it easy to pinpoint the topics where you still need work.
There are up to three full-length practice tests available to help you gauge your progress. You can also design your own custom practice test at any point, specifying which test-section and question-types you want to focus on.
Short quizzes are available at intervals to help you consolidate what you’re learning.
Use the optional timed quiz mode to test your pace. The system tracks your performance and levels you up when you’re ready.
If you get stuck at any point, the Help button is always available. Click to send a question, and you’ll hear back from a Magoosh tutor within 24 hours.
Magoosh gets how stressful SAT-prep can be. They show that they understand the problems you’re encountering and the disappointing tactics you’ve already tried (like skimming through a reading passage super fast and barely understanding any of it). Then they show you how to solve those problems in a way that makes you feel good about yourself.
Magoosh helps you locate and drill your weak spots–definitely the core task of any test-prep program. At the same time, they make your strengths visible on the dashboard so you feel you’re getting credit for everything you’ve accomplished so far.
The only weak point in the Magoosh program is they don’t use real College Board practice materials.
As an SAT tutor, I want every student to have the advantage of studying with authentic College Board questions. Magoosh works hard to make sure that their materials match the SAT in style and content. But the fact remains: it’s not the same thing.
The good news is, the College Board makes those authentic questions available for free in the form of SAT Practice Tests #1-8. You can access them via the Khan Academy site, or you can buy a paper copy of The Official SAT Study Guide. Cover all your bases and use the techniques you’re learning from Magoosh to do some extra practice with genuine College Board questions.
Finally, here’s a quick rundown on exactly what makes Magoosh my favorite online SAT-prep program:
If you’re looking for a more personal approach to test-prep, Magoosh is the SAT review program for you.