The SAT is a coachable test, so any type of structured preparation is extremely beneficial and almost certain to help raise your score. Whether this is a class with others or one on one tutoring, any type of instruction is helpful. To decide which option is best for you though, here is a breakdown of the benefits of both group lessons and one-on-one tutoring:
These provide an atmosphere of collaboration for students. Much like a classroom, students are able to get into the normal groove of learning and work well with the other students in the class. The SAT is a stressful test and understanding that others are going through the same thing as them can be a very calming influence for individuals. Additionally, the idea of friendly competition and having a little extra push to do your homework or hone in and sharpen your test taking strategies comes in handy.
While it would be great if every student was self-driven and had intrinsic motivation, a lot of times external factors are what get the student going. There is no problem with this as long as you can recognize this trait in yourself and realize that a group class might be your best option.
In terms of pure content, group classes are great as students ask a variety of questions, which helps everyone grow and review together. The one drawback to this approach for some students is that they have already mastered certain concepts, and reviewing them is not the best use of their time. However, this is a pretty rare phenomenon as most concepts take a few times to review and really internalize.
Reviewing old test and homework problems as a group also has one unexpected benefit. Sometimes, students will get a question right for the wrong reason. Getting a question right coincidentally doesn’t necessarily prove mastery of the concept, and understanding how to actually do the problem will pay dividends when the test rolls around. Having others in the class acts as a good safety net for students to check their work and ensure they understand both the strategies and the problems. While understated and unexpected, I have found that this is one the most beneficial aspects of group lessons.
One-on-one instruction provides a plethora of benefits. First and foremost, if you are a student who struggles to learn in large groups or needs more personalized attention, then one on one tutoring is way to go. Especially on the SAT, which is an incredibly teachable test, having individualized attention allows students to break down strategies and problems to the level that makes the most sense for them.
In terms of pacing, a one-on-one setup is also better as it allows students to go at a speed that is most comfortable for them. Whether that is jumping through more rudimentary concepts or slowing down and focusing on areas of weakness, having the ability to really steer the direction of your learning is a huge benefit on the test.
Finally, review in a one-on-one setting is one of the best things about individualized tutoring. This is the area where students really benefit, as their tutors can identify the areas where they are still struggling and offer even more attention and help. Having the ability to go over every problem that is incorrect or difficult proves to be extremely helpful for the actual test, as similar problems are sure to come up. The experience of reviewing them will allow students to excel on the test and achieve their target scores.
You can’t go wrong with SAT preparation. Choosing between these two options comes down to understanding the type of student you are and what environment you will flourish in.
Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help