Each case study is based on real students who studied with PrepScholar SAT Prep. Names have been changed to protect student privacy.

Frank goes to a public school in North Carolina, and doesn’t see the point of studying for the SAT. He does decently in school, getting a B average, and completing most of the homework assigned to him. But he’s not the most academically enthusiastic student at his school. Frank sees the SAT as just another obstacle to get over with as quickly as he can. After all, doesn’t the SAT measure the skill you already have? So why study for it?

His mother Jean is worried about Frank’s future. What if he can’t get into a college? She knows Frank does need to study for the SAT: she’s read the studies proving that studying helps SAT scores and knows how much scores matter. Yet Jean is busy with work and can’t sit down with Frank for hours on end making sure he’s studying. 

Jean knew a book wouldn’t work: Frank isn’t motivated, and a book would just sit in the corner collecting dust. Left to himself, Frank wouldn’t make any progress on the SAT. Getting a private tutor costs thousands of dollars, something that’s out of their family’s budget. 

Jean knows Frank is on the computer all the time and might warm up to online test prep. When she sees PrepScholar Complete Prep, she reads about how PrepScholar motivates students to put in more study time. Furthermore, PrepScholar is a comprehensive program, so Frank doesn’t have to do any research about what to study and what books to use. All he has to do is log in and complete the exercises assigned to him.

Frank starts the program, and immediately the program asks him to list colleges he wants to go to. He chooses University of Florida because it’s a popular school and most of his friends want to go there. He realizes that his current SAT score is still about 200 points shy of what’s needed. The program gives Frank a target score to aim for, and now Frank has a reason to study. This is enough for him to give the program a chance.

College Matters

Too many test prep companies focus on the test as an end in itself. We never forget that SAT prep is a means to an end: the best possible college education for you. Our prep has a definite final goal that motivates students by connecting their work to real life rewards. We are college admissions experts, and we never lose sight of the ultimate goal.

Frank takes the PrepScholar diagnostic and finds out his specific strengths and weaknesses. He’s generally weaker in math and stronger in reading, but even within math he’s weaker in coordinate geometry compared to probability problems. PrepScholar calibrates all the lessons so they’re exactly at his level: the lessons challenge Frank a bit, but don’t overwhelm or discourage him. PrepScholar assigns Frank practice problems that push the limits of his ability so that he’s always getting better but has a realistic shot at getting them right. In the past, Frank would give up on math homework whenever the questions got too hard. But because of how PrepScholar customizes the content, Frank is motivated to get better, just to ace each quiz.

Customization Matters

We want to avoid the “I just can’t do it” attitude that can discourage a student from learning. As a result, the lessons we assign each student are based on performance on the diagnostic test. Lessons and practice problems are custom-tailored to each student so that the student has a great chance of getting the answer but is challenged to think harder. 

If you don’t master the skill in one shot, we believe it’s important for you to engage with it again until you master it. Your prep program customizes to your specific rate of progress so that you don’t get left behind.

After the diagnostic, Frank engages with the features PrepScholar has built in to motivate students. First, he’s asked to write down a specific list of times he’ll study for that week. He’s prompted to write times like “Thursday 5-7PM, Friday 4-6PM” instead of just promising that he’ll study for a few hours each week. This forces Frank to block out times when he’ll actually be studying. This schedule is sent to Frank, his mother, and the PrepScholar team. Throughout the week, Frank is reminded of his schedule. He doesn’t always make every study session, but when he misses one, he feels guilty enough that he puts in study time the next day. 

Here’s the biggest influencer on Frank: at the end of the week, PrepScholar automatically sends Frank and his mother a summary of time studied: 3 hours. Jean thought Frank was going to study 5 hours, and asks Frank about what happened. It turns out Frank was getting distracted online. Frank promises to focus more going forward. Fortunately, since PrepScholar keeps everyone in the loop and ensures supervision, this potential problem is instantly recognized and discussed, and Frank can continue studying. Next week, Frank actually does up his study time to 5 hours, and PrepScholar reports it back to Frank and Jean. Frank feels good about himself for being able to honor his commitments, and he wants to keep it up for the next week.

We Care About Motivation

We’ve worked with thousands of students and analyzed why many of them fall behind on SAT prep. We care seriously about solving problems like motivation and engagement because often they’re the major factors holding students back from their future. That’s why we’ve built in features like weekly study schedulers and progress reports so that everyone’s on the same page about the progress being made.

Because PrepScholar’s content is written by top-scoring instructors who also have extensive teaching experience, Frank finds the lessons and practice problems tolerable to work on. His mother is happy that he’s putting in the time to study. Jean says:

“The reports of hours studied are a godsend. I don’t need to check on Frank minute by minute, seeing if he’s on Youtube or Facebook. PrepScholar just sends me the actual amount of time studied each week, so both Frank and I know what’s going on.”


At the end of the day, Frank put in over 20 hours into the program, several times more than what he would have studied with a book or with other online programs that don’t have built-in motivational tools. This raised his score 150 points, putting him within striking distance of University of Florida.