For students about to take the SAT as well as their parents, it can be a point of debate whether or not to hire a tutor. Some think it would be unheard of to take the test without being prepared by a tutor or coach, while others seem to think it's an expense that can easily be spared as long as you do well in school. In truth, there are many things tutors can do for students they can't do alone or with the help of a teacher.
It's true that there are many bright students who may have the capability to prepare themselves for the SAT, but that doesn't mean they have the discipline to do so. It's also not safe to assume that teachers will provide SAT-oriented material. Having an SAT coach means that a student is held accountable for studying specified portions of material, and therefore, it gives the student the discipline needed to do so. There's no doubting that the right amount of studying will improve a test score, but some students need the incentive to actually study.
Many students do extremely well in certain subjects but not-so-well in others. For example, some students are proficient in math and science courses, but struggle with writing. If this is the case, it can be helpful to get an SAT tutor who specializes in a certain subject. You can't get all the algebra help you need just from sitting in class, because lesson plans are designed to accommodate everyone. With a tutor, you can sit down and explain exactly what you're having trouble with. Specialized help is one of the biggest benefits of hiring a tutor or coach.
The benefit of having SAT tutors is that they're familiar with what colleges expect of their applicants. Together, a student and tutor can goals that are both attainable and specific to the program that the student is applying to, making it more likely they will get into their top choices and excel in their programs.