Students often ask us about Khan Academy, a non-profit educational organization that offers all kinds of great online learning tools for students and teachers. They want to know, why choose Magoosh, when Khan is free!?
We’re fans of Khan over here at Magoosh, and believe students should receive as much support as possible—from as many sources as necessary—when aiming for success. Test prep really doesn’t have to be an either-or scenario.
That said, Khan does have limitations, which is where Magoosh steps in! After all, Magoosh provides students with a comprehensive, user-friendly, effective SAT prep platform that fleshes out any SAT study program.
In short: when purchasing Magoosh SAT prep, students and educators can rest assured that they’re receiving something that no free product can possibly provide.
Let’s take a closer look at why.
The Magoosh Edge: SAT Prep For Mastering the SAT
First and foremost, Magoosh is an established, trusted test preparation company offering test prep developed by academic experts. Unlike Khan, a general educational organization (that also happens to provide some test prep), test prep is our wheelhouse.
Because standardized tests are the gatekeepers for nearly all academic access (think: getting into college!), we’ve made it our goal to make test prep accessible, effective, and engaging for students. Our mission is to help students achieve their educational dreams. It’s a bold claim, but we work everyday to live up to!
So, what makes Magoosh SAT test prep the best?
- Over 1,500 practice questions
- Our practice questions are written and edited repeatedly by SAT experts to reflect the precise types of questions and answer options students will encounter on the SAT. With many examples of every type of questions, students will be prepared for anything and everything they’ll encounter on testing day.
- Immediate performance feedback
- Taking SAT practice tests is an integral part of studying for the SAT, but simply scoring the test at the end of taking it isn’t it enough. We’re firm believers that students benefit from real-time feedback on their performance as they’re attacking a question. This gives them the opportunity to reflect on why a question is right or wrong as they are addressing it, instead of trying to remember their thought process when reflecting back on it.
- Active learning during practice
- Our SAT prep is highly interactive, which encourages deep, meaningful learning, not just memorization. Each and every individual practice question includes feedback on pacing, accuracy indicators, text and video explanations, and related videos. This accounts for a wide range of learning styles and ensures that a student is never left in the dark when they get stuck on a question.
- Extensive video library
- If there’s a concept tested on the SAT, we have a video on it. If a student needs help learning to predict a line or curve of best fit for a scatterplot? Got it. Help understanding passive vs. active voice? Got it. The same goes for videos on the multitude of SAT strategies to use on each section of the exam.
- These videos are also a great resource for teachers who want to incorporate mini-lessons on the SAT into their general curriculum or who want to assign them as homework.
- 24/7 Access to a team of SAT experts
- This is a big one. All feedback is amazing, but nothing beats good, old fashioned help from a real person. Our team of SAT experts are here and at the ready, excited to help talk students through any questions or roadblocks they may encounter.
- Practice incentives
- Who doesn’t like to be cheered on and applauded for their hard work? Magoosh SAT prep sends text message reminders and encouraging words to help keep students on track with practice.
- Educator Resources
- In addition to all of the great student resources that can be easily re-purposed by educators to use in the classroom. If you’re a teacher using Magoosh SAT prep, you can access assignments, track students’ practice, use our disability accommodations setting, and get insights on student performance with granular reporting.
- Affordable options
- Magoosh’s SAT prep isn’t free because we employ the foremost experts in the field of education and test prep to develop SAT content and to be available to students around the clock. But we are super passionate about providing affordable, accessible SAT prep, and offer Magoosh prep at a discount that fits in most school budgets, including special Title I pricing.
- SAT expert blog
- The Magoosh SAT blog is filled with hundreds of free blog posts written by SAT experts on anything and everything pertaining to the SAT. From full SAT study schedules to last minute prep tips to information about SAT accommodations, students can get the help they need and educators can easily use these resources to incorporate into their curriculum.
Okay So Where Does Khan Fit In?
Khan, who has partnered with the College Board to provide SAT prep, has a mission “to provide free, world class education for anyone, anywhere.”
Khan offers free, short video classes for students in preschool through adulthood. Classes are offered in multiple subject areas ranging from art history to computing to personal finance. Each video comes with a transcript and occasionally supplemental resources like practice questions. For the most part though, engagement is driven through the videos themselves, many of which are taught by Salman Khan, the founder.
Khan also allows you to access the platform as a teacher or parent (in “coach” mode), sometimes providing different resources (like short quizzes), and offering the ability to link to Google Classroom.
If you or your students are visual learners, we definitely encourage you to check out Khan’s videos. Free educational videos are always a good thing, and can’t ever hurt your SAT prep.
So we’re pro-Khan over here at Magoosh, but adamantly believe that Khan alone just doesn’t offer the SAT prep students need to be truly competitive college candidates.
Here are some of the reasons that exclusively using Khan isn't the best method for SAT prep.
- Lack of Structure
- Khan offers a series of lessons and practice quizzes, but they don’t necessarily go anywhere and don’t seem to be sequenced in a way that builds knowledge and skill sets progressively. And besides vague “goals” that can be reached, Khan’s SAT prep also lacks clear mile markers of completion and success, which undermines a student’s progress.
- Khan does offer a wealth of practice lessons clearly organized around topic as well as a nice library of videos offering tips and strategies. But these resources seem relatively disjointed, lacking a cohesive, structured study plan.
- Confusing “Skill Levels”
- Khan breaks down all of the skills necessary for each section of the exam (41 skills on the Math section, 28 skills on Reading & Writing). There are levels for each of the skills tested, ranging from 1-4 (associated with easier to harder questions). As students reach a higher skill level through practice, they’ll be given harder questions.
- Sounds like a solid practice method, right? Well, in theory. But the problem is somewhat muddied and arbitrary nature of how these “levels” are determined for each individual skill set. This can make it confusing for students, unnecessarily complicating their practice and emphasizing the wrong things to study.
- Vague Explanations
- In the practice sections, Khan provides video explanations for each question. However, the video explanations typically address the concept in general, using a different example, instead of dissecting the actual question at hand. This can be confusing for students, since it asks them to digest two sets of information at one time.
- Technology Contingent
- While pretty much all test prep today is tech-heavy (and that’s typically a plus!), the bulk of Khan’s prep is video, which means that if students (or faculty) don’t have access to high speed internet, they’re out of luck.
- Limited Expert Support
- Nothing beats getting feedback from a real person, which Khan doesn’t offer in real-time. Students can ask questions (message board style) and Khan seems to do a good job answering them, but it’s just not the same as talking through a problem with an SAT expert.
- Inconsistent Teacher Resources
- Teachers (and similarly, parents) are able to use Khan’s coaching function to invite and interact with students, assign SAT prep, and track their students’ progress, which is great. However, they’re aren’t able to assign practice skills lessons or practice tests to their students at this time. Moreover, there’s no live customer support element for schools and educators who adopt Khan’s test prep.
- Partnership With the College Board
- The College Board is a valuable college-readiness resource for many students, but it’s also received a fair share of criticism from educators for delayed PSAT scores, controversy surrounding adversity scores, and so on. So depending on your feelings about the College Board, Khan’s partnership with it doesn’t necessarily give Khan additional credibility or cache.
The Verdict: Choose Magoosh For the Best All-in-One Prep
For students looking to earn as high a grade as absolutely possible (or to improve their current score as much as possible) on the SAT, Magoosh’s SAT prep is the clear choice. It’s more structured, in-depth, comprehensive, user-friendly, adaptable, intuitive, and engaging. It also offers around-the-clock expert support to students and excellent customer service to schools and educators using the content.
Khan can certainly be used as a supplemental support tool for students, but with the extensive video library offered by Magoosh, we’d be surprised if they opted to use Khan as well.
There are, of course, instances in which the SAT is not a super high priority for students: if their top colleges don’t require it or they’re providing ACT scores instead, for example. For students looking to take the SAT “just in case,” or for those not looking to earn a particularly competitive score, Khan’s free and solid prep material may do the trick.