"I wanted to let you know that Nathaniel performed
fabulously on the SAT - he really knocked it out of
the park! Both Karen, our director, and Regan, our
tutor, were terrific. You are a great team!"

- Kristin B, Mother of Nathaniel,
11th Grader at St. Ignatius

SAT / PSAT Preparation

Compass has an unparalleled wealth of experience in one-on-one SAT and PSAT preparation. We have worked with thousands of students, so we know which strategies work and which do not. We closely scrutinize each new exam the College Board makes publicly available and update our curricula accordingly. We have successfully navigated the redesigns of 1994 and 2005 and are carefully monitoring the changes slated to debut on the October 2015 PSAT and March 2016 SAT.

Whether you initially target the PSAT or focus exclusively on the SAT, you can be assured of a program custom-fit to your needs. Rather than offering one-size-fits-all packages, we take the time to evaluate your test-taking strengths and weaknesses, then make personalized recommendations. Your college goals, your learning style, your schedule, even your extracurricular interests – we take all of this into account in tailoring your program of study and matching your tutor. Read more about our approach.

As we don’t require an upfront commitment to a package of lessons, you are welcome to opt out at any time without further charges. One reason we offer a complimentary diagnostic practice test and director analysis before you sign up is so that you know exactly where you stand and how you can improve. And even if you then decide to prepare on your own, we’ll be glad to provide some guidance.

Compass also understands that the SAT and PSAT may only be pieces of a larger testing puzzle. Depending on your college list, you may also need to take SAT Subject Tests. And, of course, there’s the ACT, which you might find is a favorable alternative.

We will gladly help you sort through these considerations – and many others – on a complimentary basis. Contact us to discuss your ideal testing strategy, receive our College Admission Testing Guide, and sign up for a free practice test.

Your college goals, your learning style, your schedule, even your extracurricular interests – we take all of this into account in tailoring your program of study.


SAT or ACT? This question has grown more prominent over the last decade, as the ACT’s popularity has increased — a trend we expect to continue, if not accelerate. Students are no longer hesitant to submit ACT scores to the most selective colleges on the coasts. ACT takers now constitute over a third of admitted applicants to Brown, Caltech, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Penn, and Stanford, to name a few. This is not, however, because the ACT is easier than the SAT; the majority of students who take both tests perform commensurately on each. That said, every rule has its exceptions. In order to set foot on the right path, we encourage students curious about the ACT to take both ACT and SAT practice tests before preparation begins.

Key Differences


Writing (optional)

Similar to the multiple-choice portion of the SAT Writing except that the ACT has additional emphasis on punctuation. The “optional” ACT Writing essay is required by many schools. The ACT essay is always the last section; the SAT essay is always the first. The SAT essay is on a broad theme and can be approached formulaically or creatively. The ACT essay typically involves a narrow topic “relevant” to high school students and demands a more structured response.
Covers math through trigonometry, whereas the SAT does not. The ACT forbids calculators with computer algebra systems like the TI-89 (TI-83s and -84s are OK).
Critical Reading
Tests similar reading skills. No vocabulary-oriented Sentence Completions.
No analogue on the SAT. Measures interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. Uses specific language and reasoning, but RARELY requires any specific knowledge from your academic science classes.
Deduction for incorrect multiple-choice problems
No deduction for incorrect answers
 Raw Score
200-800 Scale
1-36 Scale
Scaled Score
800-2400 Scale
1-36 Scale
Combined or Composite Score

SAT Dates and Registration Deadlines

SAT Date

October 3, 2015

November 7, 2015

December 5, 2015

January 23, 2016

March 5, 2016

May 7, 2016

June 4, 2016

Registration Deadline

September 3, 2015

October 9, 2015

November 5, 2015

December 28, 2015

February 5, 2016

April 8, 2016

May 5, 2016

Late Registration Deadline

September 18, 2015

October 23, 2015

November 20, 2015

January 8, 2016

February 19, 2016

April 22, 2016

May 20, 2016

To register for the SAT on the College Board’s website, click here.

"Compass is clearly one of the best investments you can make in your child's future. They offer a myriad of tools - consulting, practice tests, and individualized tutoring - to help your child understand their strengths and weaknesses on admissions tests. Our daughter improved her score by more than 400 points and we are THRILLED by the results!"

− Donna R, Mother of Justine, 11th Grader at Tamalpais High School

"Our two sons both used Compass for SAT prep. The tutors' level of professionalism, engagement and knowledge made a significant difference in final test scores. I recommend Compass without reservation and feel confident that their high standards of excellence distinguishes them from their competitors."

− Marla G, Mother of Joshua, 10th Grader at Milken Community High School

"Catherine found her work with Compass to be the key to comfort in the standardized testing process. Thank you for your superior tutors in several subjects and relaxed drop-in practice test sessions. We will spread the news of your great program to Catherine's classmates!"

− Marilyn J, Mother of Catherine, 11th Grader at Convent of the Sacred Heart

"Our son is not a big fan of school and wasn't very enthusiastic about having to spend more time studying for the SAT. Both of our tutors were very understanding and able to modify their techniques to fit with his style of learning. Specifically, he benefited from the tactical approach that Compass offers and was able to raise his score 230 points."

− Carla K, Mother of Travis, 12th Grader at La Canada High School

"The service that Compass provides, including practice tests and SAT prep, was beyond fantastic! Shannon brought up her test scores in all areas. I would highly, HIGHLY recommend Compass!"

− Tara M, Mother of Shannon, 11th Grader at Woodside Priory

"The ability to take mock full-length practice tests with rapid-scoring helped us assess our son's strengths and weaknesses. The tutors you sent to our home were terrific, motivating and organizing him to ensure high test scores and improved study habits."

− Larry T, Father of Graham, 12th Grader at Redwood High School

"We had nothing but a positive experience with Compass while preparing for the SAT. Communication is key, and we always felt satisfied with immediate responses via phone and email. Our tutors were bright, engaging, and helped Rob attain his goal score - 2050!"

− Maribeth S, Mother of Rob, 12th Grader at Cleveland Charter High School

Learn More About Us

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