The question, if you’re looking for your best SAT & ACT scores, is never whether you are going to prep. Of course you will prepare for these influential yet eminently coachable exams. Instead, the right questions revolve around how to prep and when. If you’re reading this, you probably already recognize the best way to prep for the SAT & ACT. And you may already know the best time.
For years, we’ve been preaching the perfection of summer for test preparation. The benefits to working over the summer are obvious, starting with the part about “no more teachers, no more books” and extending that sentiment to “no more coaches, no more clubs.” Even students who work, travel, or go to camp can find time to prepare. So how do you make the best of summer?
The astonishingly productive Right Honourable John Lubbock famously said, “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” Summer is the perfect time to leverage some strategic downtime. But once July comes to an end, the benefits of summer prep begin to wane. If you want six weeks to prep for the first ACT of the academic year, you need to start by August 1. If you want the same six weeks before the August SAT, you need to begin even earlier, by mid-July. So don’t procrastinate!
Select the level of test preparation that best suits your learning style and motivation. Highly independent learners can work with books or online programs, while most other students will be better off with tutors or classes. The earlier you begin, the more time you have to assess whether you’ve chosen the right program.
No matter how good your test prep program is, you’ll still need to practice to internalize strategies, develop superior judgment, and master time and resource management skills. With those wide open weeks of summer, you should have no problem getting in high quality practice tests. We run full-length practice SAT and ACT exams for students all over Rochester and Syracuse, yet we see that the July tests are sparsely attended. Real progress takes time, so take advantage of your open schedule during the summer months. Even one practice test a week feels easy when you don’t have to go to school every day.
Long story short, anyone who has been putting off prep for the upcoming school year shouldn’t wait any longer. The modern high school student juggles far too many academic and extracurricular commitments to wait until class is back in session to study for the big tests. Summer works best for SAT & ACT prep, but only if you do too!