A good SAT score is the gateway for students to enter top colleges and universities.
Many families hire SAT tutors to help their students achieve the best score possible and gain entry into their school of choice. Because the stakes are so high, SAT prep is a very lucrative niche for tutors to get into.
This article discusses the importance of the SAT in college admissions and how to develop expertise in the subject, obtain certifications, and start an SAT tutoring business. You can also apply these tips to tutoring ACT prep or any standardized test.
Understanding the SAT
The SAT is a standardized test that measures learning aptitude and assists in determining college admission. Because the test format is regularly updated, you need to stay up-to-date on the latest version of the test. If you want to get into SAT tutoring, it is essential to understand how the test is structured.
The SAT test breaks down into three tests:
- Writing and Language
- Math (calculator and no calculator sections)
The reading test consists of 52 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of 65 minutes. The reading passages cover literature, historical documents, and social and natural sciences.
The writing test consists of 44 multiple-choice questions with a time limit of 35 minutes. The topics covered in this section include grammar, vocabulary in context, and editing skills.
The math test is in two sections: calculator allowed and no calculator. On the calculator section of the math test, there are 38 questions and a time limit of 55 minutes. The non-calculator section has 20 questions and a 25-minute time limit.
The sum of the section scores determines the overall SAT score. The scores for reading, writing, and language range from 200-800, as do the scores for math. The range for total SAT scores is 400-1600.
Developing Expertise in SAT Prep
Once you familiarize yourself with how the SAT is structured and scored, you need to increase your expertise in the types of questions found on the test because the SAT is very different than the tests your students will have encountered in the classroom.
Some things a tutor can do to increase their knowledge about the SAT:
- Gather as many resources as you can on SAT strategies.
- Purchase the Official SAT Study Guide by The College Board, featuring official SAT practice tests.
- Study and increase your knowledge of SAT subjects.
- Take the SAT for experience and understanding.
Qualifications of an SAT tutor
Becoming an SAT tutor requires more than having a high personal score on the SAT.
A quality tutor will demonstrate that they have the education and experience to back them up. Because SAT prep requires specific knowledge about the test's structure and content, it is essential to highlight your experience with the SAT, from personal to tutoring experience. If you want to get a tutor job through an agency like Princeton Review, they require SAT tutors to have an SAT score at or above the 90th percentile and an ACT score of 29 or higher.
You will also want to list the colleges and universities you have been accepted to and any degrees earned. As an SAT tutor, having at least some experience at the college level is vital. Whether you are currently enrolled in a college or university or already have a degree, tutoring agencies and clients will want to see you have been through the college admissions process yourself.
In addition to your educational background and SAT scores, you must possess specific characteristics to be an SAT prep tutor. You must be a good communicator, highly motivated, and organized. You will use these skills to teach good study habits and motivate reluctant test takers. You are both a teacher and a model of the skills needed to succeed on a high-stakes standardized test, so you must walk your talk.
While getting an SAT tutoring certification isn't required, it will go a long way in helping to establish your credibility. These programs give tutors the tools they need to help their students achieve success on their college entrance exams. They train tutors on SAT content, test-taking strategies, and tutoring best practices.
Some popular SAT tutor certifications include the following:
- SAT Prep Certified Tutor
For this certification program, you need to register on the College Board website through a third party like Kaplan. The course includes online classes, an assessment, and a certification exam. The course and certification exam typically take 8-10 hours to complete at $200-$300 for the entire program.
- SAT Subject Test Certified Tutor
This certification demonstrates mastery of the subject matter of the SAT and the teaching skills necessary to help students succeed. With a completion time of 6-8 weeks, it is more involved than the previous certification, and you must submit a resume, two letters of recommendation, and a writing sample to be considered. The price of this certification varies depending on how many subjects you want to be tested in. A subject test typically costs $200.
- SAT Math Certified Tutor
This online certification program comprises five modules covering various topics around the SAT math test. To earn the certification, tutors must complete the five modules and pass two practice tests with at least 80%. The program typically takes 10 hours to complete and costs $99.
- SAT Reading and Writing Certified Tutor
This certification program, offered by the College Board, requires tutors to complete an online course (8 hours) and an in-person workshop (two days). The typical cost for this program is $500-$600.
- College Board Approved Tutor
This tutor certification program is offered through the College Board and requires 10-12 hours of coursework and passing a comprehensive exam with at least 80%. The program costs $99.
- ACT/SAT Test Prep Certified Tutor
This certification program offers well-rounded instruction on how to help students be successful on either the SAT or ACT test. The course typically takes 8-10 weeks, and tutors must pass a comprehensive exam. The cost for this program ranges between $500-$1,000, depending on the entity providing it.
Starting Your Tutoring Career
Once you are sure you have the necessary education, experience, and certification(s) to be an SAT tutor, you need to decide if you want to run your own tutoring business or tutor for an agency.
If you decide to offer your services through your own, independently run tutoring business, you can do the following things to get it up and running.
- Identify your target market and write a business plan.
- Determine your SAT tutoring rates.
- Consider online platforms to help with SAT tutoring.
- Develop and implement a marketing plan to get new clients.
- Develop a curriculum and lesson plans to provide students with quality SAT instruction.
Tutoring Agencies that Hire SAT Tutors
Princeton Review is one of the leading agencies in the SAT prep industry. They hire teachers and tutors across all subject areas. In addition to being a tutor for Princeton Review, you can also apply to be a test proctor. You must pass a qualifying exam and an audition to demonstrate your presentation skills. Pay is not listed directly on the website.
PrepScholar is always looking for qualified SAT/ACT tutors. The pay ranges from $30-$50 per hour, and tutors must have an ACT or SAT score in the 99%ile. College graduates are preferred, but undergraduates are welcome to apply as well.
Varsity Tutors hires across various subject areas, including SAT/ACT prep. The pay varies depending on the subject you tutor and if you are a 1:1 tutor. Payment will increase with your amount of experience as well. You must fill out an application through their website to get started.
Kaplan is also an industry leader in the test prep industry, and they are selective in hiring their teachers. You need to have passed at the 90th percentile or better to qualify. Teaching with them offers flexibility and freedom not to have to worry about anything but teaching.
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