Attention parents: Free SAT and ACT online preparation courses available this month

High school students preparing for college can take free SAT and ACT preparation classes using an online service for a limited time starting next week.

Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with experts in the material, is providing the courses in direct response to the high-profile university admissions scandal in March dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” Sacramento resident William Rick Singer was charged with facilitating cheating on the SAT and ACT exams in exchange for monetary bribes.

“The college admissions scandal in the spring has brought to the forefront that there are vast inequalities when it comes to the college admissions process,” said Chuck Cohn, founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors. “There’s a clear need to level the playing field and these live classes will help improve access to higher education for all students.”

Depending on the city, some tutors meet with students, but the majority of the lessons are done online.

The company raised $107 million from investors including TCV, Learn Capital and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

In the final months of the 2018-2019 school year, interest in the ACT rose by 118 percent while SAT interest rose by 203 percent, according to Varsity Tutors. Interest in the exams was measured by visitation, inquiry and registration for the exam.

“The technology exists for us to build a large-scale, live class platform that makes test prep more accessible to millions of students,” Cohn said. “It’s an idea that we hope will have a transformative impact on students’ college admissions opportunities.”

Students can enroll for the courses online.

The ACT sessions will begin on Sept. 24 and end on Oct. 24, and will be held on Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The SAT sessions will begin on Sept. 30 and end on Oct. 30, and will be held on Monday and Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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Sawsan Morrar covers school accountability and culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumna of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED and Capital Public Radio.