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Why should I pay for an SAT course when Khan Academy is free?

For almost four years, Khan Academy has been linked to the College Board. Since the College Board creates the SAT and promotes Khan, one would think that it would have to be the best resource for learning how to do well on the SAT.

Unfortunately, the College Board is not in the business of teaching people to subvert their design and to ace their tests. By extension, neither is Khan Academy. Khan Academy provides a fair amount of problems to practice and improve your skills on the content that comprises the SAT. What it does not do is provide overall strategies or specific tactics to help you do better on it than someone else who has the same content knowledge as you do.

Even in helping you practice content, several problems exist. All topics within each section are given equal weight so you have no idea which content will more likely show up on the test. A concept may appear regularly in three questions or in none, but you wouldn’t know from Khan Academy’s practice pages. Another issue is that K.A.’s explanations do not provide any strategies or tactics for getting to the correct answers quickly, as used by those of us who scored high on the test. In other words, they want you to get to the answer the hard way, a strategy that would mean few would ever finish all the sections.

Many of the wrong answer choice “explanations” do not adequately explain why that choice is wrong. In the Writing section, for instance, they amount to “This isn’t the appropriate word choice. To say that a person is _____ is unconventional and doesn’t make sense.” In the Math section, explanations are cut and dry, and often either lack enough detail for someone struggling with the concept or provide only enough to answer that particular type of problem, which may or may not show up as one of only 45 multiple choice questions on the SAT.

Perhaps the largest question is if the practice problems truly resemble SAT questions closely enough to be useful. In the Writing section, sentences are presented out of context. Underlines are extended past commas and semicolons, although they are not on the actual SAT. Although its website claims that College Board test item makers work closely with Khan Academy to create the practice problems, these little inconsistencies might raise a little doubt. While mistakes have been found in past years on K.A.’s website, and certain disparities appeared between question types on practice tests and the real SAT, I believe that these problems have been resolved.

So Khan Academy may actually provide decent practice problems. But endless drill and kill may end up killing only you. Do you really want to spend 100+ hours going through problems when a course like Astounding Score’s SAT class can help you understand and crush the test in far less than half the time?


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