In my opinion, the SAT is an excellent test. It is a good measure of the ability of students to perform well in college. However, I believe that the SAT is also a money making scheme devised by the College Board. Sure, the test is only $40 or so, but they also know that the students just have to prepare, so they also sell SAT preparation products that will rake in money for them. The College Board has devised this test to accurately show how students will do in college, but there is a secondary motive; they also want to make a lot of money.
In order to combat this, I recommend to only spend as much money as the SAT cost, which, if I remember correctly, is only $43. This means that you can pretty much afford a software program and a book. This is about all the preparation that a student needs, as any more than this proves to be ineffective. This plan saves you money as well as provide you with the optimal of preparation needed to pass the SAT Reasoning Test.
Granted, the SAT is an important test. Many colleges look at the SAT as an important factor of whether they will admit you or not. The above guidelines are just that: guidelines. The SAT can be of different intellectual difficulties for different people. If you feel that the SAT is essential in order to get into the college of your dreams, then spend as much money that you feel you need to. However, do not spend more than you have to. For example, do not spend over $500 on an SAT prep course, two software programs, and three books. All of this preparation and preparation materials will only psyche you out, which can, in turn, actually hurt your score. Spend only on what you feel is necessary. Also, when buying the SAT preparation materials, keep in mind what I mentioned earlier about the College Board making money. I am not saying that the organization is dishonest, all I am saying is be careful of what you buy, and what you buy into.
The SAT (and ACT) is a very important test for college admissions. Often times, students will spend too much money in order to prepare for a test that is over in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Do not spend hundreds of dollars preparing for the exam, as this will only make you more nervous and hurt your score. Just spend what you believe is enough to get you the score that you are aiming for. With this philosophy in mind, I hope that when you walk into the test center, you will feel that the time and money spent on preparation was enough.