How to Budget for Test Prep

Whether you’re taking an SAT, an ACT, or an AP Exam, it’s going to cost you a little bit of money. It’s essential to budget for them so it doesn’t end up costing you more than it has to. There are even ways you may be able to save some cash if you feel the expenses are out of your reach. Remember these tips on how to budget for test prep.

A student holding a pencil over a test sheet.

How Much Do the Tests Cost?

Each test (SAT, ACT, or AP) has a different cost, and different additional fees.

SAT Costs

The SAT costs $52. With the essay, it’s $68. You may be charged additional fees if you want to register by phone ($15), change your test center or date ($30), or register late ($30). There are also fees you may be charged regarding your test results, but receiving the initial report is free.

If you’re opting for the SAT Subject Test, a registration fee is $26 that covers one date and up to three Subject Tests.

ACT Costs

The ACT costs $55 without writing, and $70 with writing. Late registration and change fees both cost $35. As with the SAT, the initial score report is free, but additional reports and services will cost extra.

AP Cost

An AP exam taken within the United States is $95, outside is $125. These prices do not include AP Seminars or AP Research Exams, which are $143. Late orders are an additional $40.

A Tutor

If you’re thinking about working with a tutor for your test prep, the average cost is $20 to $100 per hour.

How to Save Money on Test Prep

There are a few different ways you can save money on test prep.

Register On Time

One of the biggest ways you can save money when it comes to your SAT, ACT, or AP Exams is to register on time. Late fees add up and it’s a waste of money. If you miss the ideal test date you wanted, try registering instead for the next one.

Try Not To Change your Test Location or Test Date

If you plan correctly ahead of time, you can also easily avoid these fees.

Look into Fee Waivers

The SAT offers fee waivers for certain students, including if you were eligible for the National School Lunch Program, your family’s income falls within certain guidelines, you’re enrolled in various income programs, your family receives public assistance, or for other criteria.

For the ACT, you need to talk to your high school counselor to request a fee waiver.

For the AP Exam, the College Board can provide a $33 fee reduction if you have demonstrated financial need. Some states also provide additional funding and resources.

Shop Around for a Tutor

Tutors vary greatly in price, though in many cases you will get what you pay for. It’s essential to do due diligence: look at reviews, explore your options, and talk to teachers. You may also find that your school offers programs that can help you prep for the SAT, ACT, or AP Exams, reducing the need for a tutor.

If you find a tutor is out of your price range, there are plenty of paid for and free resources available right online. You can set yourself up with the tools and schedule time each week to prepare for your tests.

Take Fewer Tests

You don’t have to take every single test. Although you do need to take the AP Exam for credit, you may want to opt for fewer SAT or ACT exams. For example: You don’t need to take the both the SAT and the ACT. If you’re happy with your first score, you may not want to retake the exam.

How to Budget for Test Prep

Whether you’re taking the SAT, ACT, or AP exam, there are ways for you to save money. Understanding the costs and the ways you can save cash can help you budget and plan your expenses for the coming year.

Be sure to check out how your ACT or SAT scores affect your acceptance odds at every college in the country with College Raptor’s free match tool!


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