Systematic reviews of the effects of preparatory courses on university entrance examinations in high school‐age students


prep courses, SAT, university entrance, examination tests, systematic review, United States of America


This systematic review examines the effects of coaching on Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores and, ultimately, university entrance. We show a significant effect in score improvement for coached students over their uncoached peers in both the Math and Verbal subtests of the examination. This review's findings indicate treatment group gains over control group of 23.5 points on the Verbal subtest and 32.7 points on the Math subtest, for a combined score of nearly triple that which was previously assumed. As long as coaching remains inaccessible to some students, we urge universities to reconsider the weight given to SAT scores in the undergraduate admissions process. We challenge the designers of the SAT to redesign the examination to eliminate the possibility of score gains from coaching. Finally, we call for researchers to increase the production of high‐quality data in this field to ensure accurate estimates of coaching's effects are made available to all.

Original Publication Citation

Montgomery, Paul and Jane Lilly. 2011. “Systematic Reviews of the Effects of Preparatory Courses on University Entrance Examinations in High School-Age Students.” International Journal of Social Welfare 21(1): 3-12.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


International Journal of Social Welfare




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor