Why On Demand ACT & SAT Prep Courses Don’t Work

Photo Credit: Social Media Class via photopin (license)
Photo Credit: Social Media Class via photopin (license)

Online education. It seems like such a blessing. Through the internet, you can learn almost anything. I understand that everything is headed in the direction of e-learning. However, On Demand ACT & SAT prep courses do not work.

On Demand classes refer to courses that are pre-recorded videos students can watch anytime. Essentially, Netflix for ACT & SAT prep. I had this brilliant idea three years ago: because I have little time to teach courses, I will prerecord a course of me teaching an SAT prep course. Then, students can watch it anytime at their convenience. Seemed like a good idea, right? Wrong.

The problem with On Demand ACT & SAT prep is that students don’t use it and parents don’t want it. The users, the students, are often too busy with everything in high school (classes, sports, extracurricular activities, etc.) to find time to watch the videos on their own. In addition, when they do logon to the internet to watch the videos, they often get sidetracked by e-mail, text messages, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. The customers, the parents, also understand that their high school student is likely too busy or too distracted to watch an On Demand ACT or SAT prep course. Unfortunately, I realized the harsh realities of the low-demand for On Demand only after recording a full prerecorded video SAT course. It was our lowest selling course, period.

ACT & SAT prep is not easy, and it’s certainly not Netflix.

A student has to really pay attention during class, do lots of practice for homework, and complete full-length practice ACT & SAT exams in order to really improve his or her score. To trust a student to do all of this on his or her known is putting quite a bit of faith in the student. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s improbable. Unless your teenager is extremely self-disciplined and self-motivated, I would recommend putting them in an live in-person or live online ACT or SAT prep course. This way, the student is accountable. He or she has to show up to class 2-3 times a week, complete the homework, and stay on track with the pace of the course. Most importantly, the student can ask his or her individual questions to the instructor — which is what students often praise as the most helpful part of taking a ACT or SAT prep course.

Some people just don’t get it. The College Board, the company that creates the SAT, doesn’t get it. Its solution to close the test prep gap is to offer On Demand video test prep through the Kahn Academy. It simply won’t work. If you really want your child’s test score to improve, you must put them in a live SAT prep or ACT prep class.

Shaan Patel

Shaan Patel is the founder of Prep Expert Test Preparation (formerly 2400 Expert), a #1 bestselling SAT prep author, an MD/MBA student at Yale and USC, and winner of an investment deal with billionaire Mark Cuban on ABC's Shark Tank. He raised his own SAT score from average to perfect and teaches students his methods in an online SAT prep class.