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Princeton Review Takes College Prep Test Online

In what is part marketing push and part of a push to expand its presence online, The Princeton Review Friday said it was launching a free online SAT preparation course.

The test is full length and consists of two hours of multimedia lessons and drills. As with many things that take flight on the Internet, the heralded testing company said it realized that many students would want to cut through a lot of the offline, classroom environments, instructions and nuisances to prepare online instead.

The Princeton Review's Executive Vice President Steve Quattrociocchi said his company looked at such rivals as Test University and TurboGrad, which had already posted free online prep course, and tried to improve on what those firms had done. He said he feels the SAT and GMAT versions launched in July have better interfaces and dashboard set-ups than competitors. LSATs and GREs will roll out this month.

If the students like what they see in the practice exams and decide The Princeton Review is the right route to take, they can then register for the Princeton Review Online course, which is $399, and features much more exercises, drills and tests than the free version. Or they can get the fullest package, LiveOnline with an offline/online collaboration featuring a Princeton Review instructor, virtual classrooms and extra help sessions -- all for $799.

As to whether the firm plans to video stream instructors, as rivals such as Stanley Kaplan's course offer, Quattrociocchi said the firm would not consider it until the technology improved.

"If you look at Kaplan's, it's just a talking head on a grainy, jumpy screen," Quattrociocchi. "I think right now it is better to hear the instructor's voice. When more people begin to have more reliable DSL connections, visual streaming will be better, but right now it's really painful to watch."

When the test-maker does plan to take the visual route, Quattrociocchi, said he has no doubt the firm's brand will attract users.

The SAT will be administered nationally on Oct. 14, Nov. 4, Dec. 2, Jan. 27, March 31, May 5 and June 2.