GMAT preparation

Home > Price tags of the SAT/ACT

Testing for college admissions is a lucrative business in a nonprofit format public education director of FairTest, The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, in Cambridge, Mass.

In a utopia, students would be admitted to the colleges of their choice without having to take four-hour tests. But that’s not the case, and students spend more than $350 million per year on prep materials alone.

How much will you spend to prepare for and take the tests?

Test prep costs

Of course, there is a wide array of test prep materials now available on the market, but it is not uncommon for families to pay $900 or $1,000 for a course.

Test preparation is important, but look closely at your budget and your needs. There are many options available, including online programs, private tutors and classes at school. And even the most expensive program can’t make guarantees if you don’t do the work.

Test costs

You may incur fees for the following services:


ACT’s PLAN and The College Board’s PSAT/NMSQT, the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, are usually administered by the high schools to sophomores and juniors.

In most cases, there is no cost to students for taking the PLAN assessment. That’s because PLAN is administered exclusively through schools.

The fee for the 2007 PSAT/NMSQT is $13, schools sometimes charge an additional fee to cover administrative costs.

Additional score reports

Students can send up to four score reports to colleges as part of their test fee, so they must indicate those colleges when they register to take the SAT or at any time up to nine days after the test. It is more economical to sign up for four schools right away.

Additional service fees

Both the ACT and The College Board offer additional services for a price. These services include rush reports to schools, standby fees and hand scoring rather than the standard machine scoring. Should you miss a registration date, it may be possible to be placed on a waiting list—for a fee, that is.

Fee waivers

Both the ACT and the SAT offer fee waivers to students who have economic need. Students can apply for a fee waiver through their high school guidance counselor’s office. To be eligible, students must simply meet at least one indicator of economic need listed on the ACT fee waiver form. Eligible students may use up to two fee waivers total. In other words, they may take the ACT up to two times at no charge.

The SAT fee waiver service allows eligible students also to receive, at no cost, either the question-and-answer service or the student answer service. Both provide students with individualized feedback on their test performance. The fee waiver also includes four free score reports to schools.

The costs for standardized tests can add up. Talk to your school counselor if you need help paying for them.


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