Here is an edited version of one of my articles on taking an SAT prep course. I think you will find my suggestions useful:
In this article we are going to help you decide if you should sign up for an SAT math prep course, or if you should continue preparing on your own. Taking a course can be quite costly, so it's best to be as informed as possible before making a decision.
The main reason to sign up for a course is for motivation. A prep course can keep you focused and on the correct path. If you are a student that can motivate yourself successfully, then there is no need to take an expensive course. Make sure that you read my article titled "The correct way to prepare for SAT math" carefully, especially if you decide not to take a course.
Now I don't want to give the impression that I am against SAT prep courses. I think that they can be great. In fact, I've been running them for over twelve years.
If you do decide to take a course, here are some things that you should find out about the person or company that you will be dealing with.
Their results: what is the average score increase that students get from their PSAT to their SAT after taking this course? Would you really want to pay for a service that doesn't produce results?
Group size: I always prefer groups of about 3 to 5 students. This is small enough to give individualized attention, and large enough to have a nice group dynamic.
Grouping method: Do they group students by their PSAT scores? If you scored a 650 in math on your PSAT, you do not want to be in the same group as someone who scored a 400. You will most likely be wasting time practicing problems that you don't need help with, and the 400 student will be struggling with problems that he or she will not even get up to on the actual exam.
Hiring practices: Does the company or person you may deal with hire people just based upon their SAT scores, or do they make sure that they have exceptional teachers? Do they have separate instructors for Verbal and Math? What are the credentials of these instructors?
Instructor salaries: In general, you get what you pay for, and in the case of a prep course, you get what the company is paying for. Make sure that their tutors are paid well.
Feedback: What are other people saying about them? Remember, the best recommendation is from friends who have already used them and have gotten an exceptional result. If you can't get this kind of recommendation, it is EVEN MORE important that you check credentials using the other suggestions mentioned in this list.
Keep in mind that there are often local tutors that do a much better job than some of the big name companies, and are less expensive. Local companies and tutors don't generally have many expenses, so they can pass these savings on to you. And there are many exceptional ones out there. Ask students that you know who have already taken the SAT where they went for preparation. Find out their results and if they were happy with the course.
To summarize, first you should decide if you have the motivation to prepare for the SAT on your own. If so, make sure you stick to a study plan using the suggestions in this video on preparing for the SAT. If you decide you would like to sign up for a course, make sure you get the appropriate information before deciding whom to use.
Best of luck,