Let go of your misconceptions and get ready to learn about the best math SAT prep on the planet. Here's how I know - it's my program and I've tested in on real students.
After I stopped teaching college chemistry to do something more rewarding, I began a private math and science tutoring business in 2001 (All Level Tutoring) and have been doing nothing else since. Not surprisingly, I started getting calls for math SAT prep from day one, and that's when I learned that parents and students were generally dissatisfied with big name prep courses like Kaplan and Princeton Review, not to mention the freebies offered by their local schools. Part of the problem with all these programs is that you are sticking students into another classroom-like environment where daydreaming and boredom rule. Some of the prep books are good, but how many students are motivated enough to systematically practice on their own, and who's going to explain the tricks and skills necessary to solve the questions they have gotten wrong, particularly the more difficult ones? As a professional tutor, I thought "Here's a chance for me to do it better and really make a contribution to helping students achieve their goals."
I'm a firm believer that there is no better source of practice questions than the College Board itself, because they are the people writing the actual exams. All other sources should be considered secondary. The problem with College Board materials is that they are not focused. Consider, for example, that when a student does a full practice exam, there will be only one or two questions for each type of problem. By the time that student gets around to working on another practice test (say in a week or two), there's no carry-over from the previous practice test. I realized that students don't get to practice each type of problem in a focused, concentrated way until they master it. I decided to fix that.
I spent the next two years collecting every math problem put out by the College Board, both old and new, and organizing them into Skill Packets that focused on each problem type individually. When I was done, I had a math SAT prep program that consisted of more than 800 questions grouped into 30 individual Skill Packets, complete with answer keys to each packet. The entire program would take about six months to complete, assuming a student does one Skill Packet per week. Then, with a two-week review before the SAT exam by spot-checking random problems from each packet that had previously been gotten wrong, I figured students should be very well prepared.
Guess what? The Skill Packets worked. On my own students, test scores jumped significantly. No phony hype here, just solid performance gains based on learned skills. One student worked diligently on many of the packets for just three weeks and got a 40-point boost from 620 to 660. That's a real result from a living, breathing student, not just advertising nonsense.
Apparently, the Skill Packets provide the brain with enough continuous practice on each problem type that by the time a packet is finished, the skills sink in. My own view is that the program brings students up to their own natural score potentials, good enough to open the doors to colleges where they truly belong. Students and parents have been satisfied, and I couldn't be happier.
You might be wondering how expensive the program is. Before I tell you, go check the prices of Princeton Review and Kaplan, and find out you'll be paying up to $6,000 for one of their programs with a top-tier tutor. The program I am talking about is available FOR FREE on 24HourAnswers.com's SAT subject page. You get the entire program and the answer key at no charge.
After you have worked through a Skill Packet and graded it, you will need help with problems you got wrong or didn't understand. No matter where you live on the planet, you can register for free on 24HourAnswers.com and get full, clear explanations to any of the problems you had trouble with. The cost is practically free compared to private tutoring rates. I have found that the average student will need about one hour of online tutoring per packet, which translates into a total cost of about $375 for mastering the program and being well prepared for the exam. (I had one student who was good at solving SAT math problems and averaged about four questions wrong per packet - he required a total of only five hours of online tutoring help at a cost of $75.)
Lowell Parker, Ph.D.
Empire State College