Budget-Friendly SAT Prep Resources That Are Hidden Gems

There are so many budget-friendly SAT prep materials out there to help you.

The SAT (or “digital SAT” starting March 2024) is one of the most important exams for many high school students looking to apply to college. While some schools have gotten rid of test scores, hundreds still ask for scores. It’s no secret that studying for the test is challenging and is even more stressful when you’re on a tight budget. Lots of prep resources include expensive courses, classes, and study materials. This can leave students and parents feeling overwhelmed. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune on these courses. There are so many budget-friendly SAT prep resources out there. You just don’t know where to find these hidden gems yet!

Rather than focusing on expensive resources, this article will introduce you to the prep materials that are affordable or free, so you can prepare for the SAT without worrying about the cost. If you’re still on the fence about whether to take the ACT or SAT, read about the main differences and which test might fit you best.

First, here are the rest of the test dates for 2023, before the exam becomes digital in March 2024.

SAT Test Date Registration Deadline Deadline for Changes, Regular Cancellation,
and Late Registration
Oct 7, 2023 Sep 7, 2023
Sep 26, 2023
Nov 4, 2023 Oct 5, 2023
Oct 24, 2023
Dec 2, 2023 Nov 2, 2023
Nov 21, 2023

Free community discussion forums

Forums like Reddit and College Confidential can provide valuable insights for students preparing for the SAT. These forums are great resources for free practice problems and discussions.


On Reddit, you can find subreddits, which are specific groups and threads for the SAT. In the subreddits, students discuss study methods, practice questions, and resources.

Students can ask questions and get answers from people who have recently studied for the test. Plus, you can hear tips for studying, learn about ways to improve your score, and more. 

For example, you can check out the r/SAT subreddit, which is dedicated to discussions about the SAT. In this subreddit, you can find free practice tests, study tips, and general advice for test-takers. It’s a jackpot for budget-friendly SAT prep materials.

Head to Reddit to find budget-friendly SAT prep materials and rich discussion threads.
The subreddit r/SAT is a pool of rich discussion threads, information, and practice questions.
Budget-friendly SAT prep can be as easy as looking on a Reddit thread for practice questions.
You can ask for explanations from the community and get free help.

On that note, it is also essential to maintain academic integrity by not engaging in discussions or offers of copyrighted material. This includes unreleased copies of past tests and pages of books that you can purchase. You’re not allowed to share, ask for or point anyone to these materials in the subreddit, or you will be immediately removed.

College Confidential

In addition to Reddit forums, you can check out College Confidential. College Confidential is a website boasting information and stats on 3,800+ colleges and universities. It offers college planning tools, and a highlight is that they also have online forums where you can engage in discussion about the college process and applications, ask questions, and more.

College Confidential is a gateway to real, unfiltered guidance about college. There are even sub-forums for specific colleges, and of course, for the SAT.

College Confidential is another great spot to find free information about the SAT.
College Confidential is another great spot to find free information about the SAT.

It’s important to mention again that while these forums can be extremely helpful, students should be careful not to engage in discussions or offers of illegal copies of past tests, books, or test prep courses. Academic integrity is crucial.

Free guides

Several free guides are available online that students can use to prepare for the SAT. These guides cover everything from test-taking strategies to specific subject areas. 

For example, the College Board, which creates and manages the SAT exam, offers a free overview guide of the exam along with study and testing tips. 

Then, for a more in-depth look at the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math sections themselves, check out these free guides:

Free practice tests

The SAT can be challenging, but taking a free practice test can help you prepare for the real thing. Practice tests allow you to familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions you can expect to see on the SAT.

Additionally, you can identify areas where you may need to improve your skills and build confidence in your ability to perform well on test day. Therefore, taking a free SAT practice test can be a valuable tool for you to achieve your best possible score on the exam.

The SAT will be administered digitally on a computer starting in March 2024. Because this is new, there aren’t many specific “digital SAT” prep resources out there yet. However, the College Board did launch the Digital SAT Practice and Preparation section of its website, which has free study resources! If you are going to be taking the SAT digitally, it’s best to start there.

The PSAT and scholarships

Another great budget-friendly way to prepare yourself for the SAT is by taking the PSAT.

The PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is another standardized test run by the College Board. It models the SAT and also doubles as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. This program awards scholarships to top performers on the PSAT.

Therefore, by taking the PSAT, you not only practice for the SAT but could also potentially earn money. If you score in the top 1% of PSAT/NMSQT, you are typically eligible to enter the National Merit Scholarship Program. The scholarships range from $2,500 to full tuition and fees!

The cost of taking the PSAT/NMSQT varies depending on the school or test center. However, the average cost is around $17. Some schools may offer fee waivers for students who qualify based on financial need.

You can find more information about the National Merit Scholarship Program, including eligibility requirements and application details, on the program’s website. You can also speak with your school counselor or PSAT/NMSQT coordinator for more information about the program and resources to prepare for the test. 

Finally, the College Board provides free practice materials and full-length practice tests for the PSAT/NMSQT on their website as well. 

Budget-friendly SAT prep textbooks

While many SAT textbooks can be expensive, budget options are available. Using a textbook is one of the best ways to prepare for the SAT. 

Why use a textbook?

1. They cover everything

Prep textbooks provide a detailed overview of the test format and question types and offer useful tips and strategies for success.

2. Flexible studying

Prep textbooks allow you to study at your own pace, on your own schedule. You can review topics as many times as you need and use them as a supplement to a test prep course.

3. Practice questions

Prep textbooks offer practice questions that simulate the real test. This helps you get familiar with the question types, pacing, and difficulty level of the test. Plus, you can improve your confidence for the exam.

4. Convenient access

You can purchase prep textbooks online from retailers like Amazon, making it easy and convenient to get the material you need.

Affordable options

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get access to quality study material. You can choose from affordable options. However, at the same time, before buying one, check the College Board website. It releases many of the practice tests from the textbook on the website that are free to download!

All of these options cost around $30:

1. The Official SAT Study Guide (it is dated 2020, but is a recent edition)

The official SAT Study Guide by College Board is a budget-friendly textbook.

2. Kaplan’s SAT Prep Plus 2023

Budget-friendly SAT prep textbooks are out there.

3. Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide 2023

Barron's SAT study guide is another great resource and is affordable.

By investing in affordable and accessible study materials, you’ll have the tools you need to succeed on test day.

Budget-friendly tutoring

If you exhaust all the free resources or simply want extra support and guidance during the months leading up to the SAT, you can get a budget-friendly SAT prep tutor! There are many options out there for SAT courses, but most often, they are expensive or given in a group setting. Courses – both in-person and online – can range anywhere from $199 – $1,999.

One-on-one tutoring can be a better, more personalized option at a more affordable price. Personalized learning is key in studying for this exam, so you know exactly what YOU need to do to get the score you want.

In fact, personalized learning through tutoring or peer-to-peer support can be super helpful and cost-effective. Students can benefit from personalized attention and focused instruction in areas where they need extra help.

For example, platforms like Lessonpal have affordable and convenient online tutors for the SAT.

Lessonpal has budget-friendly tutors for the SAT.
Lessonpal has 50+ SAT tutors you can choose from.

For example, Rishi Chhapolia is an SAT Prep tutor and Ivy League graduate who studied independently for the SAT. He prepared his study plan and used ​​textbooks, websites, and videos. What was the result? He scored 1520 out of 1600 on his first try! Now, he offers his SAT Prep tutoring and insight for just $20 a lesson.

So, if you don’t want to study completely alone, a mentor like Rishi can point you in the right direction at an affordable price.

Avoid fees

It is important to remember to avoid additional fees when preparing for the SAT. Late registration fees, cancellation fees, and rescheduling fees can add up quickly. Therefore, you should register for the test in advance and plan accordingly to avoid these fees.

Check the most up-to-date deadlines and fees on the College Board website.

The big picture

Preparing for the SAT can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You can save money using budget-friendly SAT prep textbooks, free resources like practice tests and forums, and free guides. You can also benefit from personalized attention through affordable tutoring options. Planning ahead and avoiding additional fees is essential to keep the overall SAT preparation cost as low as possible.

As your test day nears, read through these test-day tips to make sure you’re prepared and ready to go!

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