When should my student start focusing on test prep?

This is a question that I get asked quite often – especially this time of year! As a test prep expert, I recommend starting prep the summer between Sophomore and Junior year of high school, with the goal of taking the ACT or SAT in the fall of Junior year. Let me explain:

  • During the summer, most high school students have more free time.
  • Most parents have the desire to prevent the “summer slump” where when kids aren’t using their brains as much!
  • Test prep is the perfect opportunity to use free time to start working on something that can make a huge difference to your student’s future!
  • Starting Junior year with a plan to take control of the testing process and the anxiety can cause versus letting the tests control you!

I don’t recommend starting intense test prep before Junior year due to potential burnout. Now that said, I have had some parents insist on starting earlier; I do find that these kids struggle with motivation.

    • If you really want your child to work on something before Junior year, I recommend reading! Here is a great website that offers reading passages that match your child’s reading level. http://www.readworks.org/

Why take the ACT or SAT in the fall?

Taking the ACT or SAT at the beginning of Junior year can help your student figure out where they stand and what the testing schedule should be for the year.

The ACT is offered:
September, October, December, February, April, June, and July

The SAT is offered:
August, October, November, December, March, (April in public schools in IL and MI), May, June

Some students might hit their goal on their first test in the fall!
Wouldn’t that reduce some stress Junior year?

Or a student might hit their goal in the fall and then decide that their goal was too low!

And worse case, if your student doesn’t hit their goal out of the gate, at least he or she will know what needs to be done over the course of the year to get there!

Is my student “behind” if we don’t start before Junior year?

Not at all! I would say the majority of students start preparing during the spring of their Junior year. There is nothing wrong with this at all! The reason I recommend starting earlier is so that your student will have more time to achieve their goal score. If your student starts prepping in Spring of Junior year, there is a chance that they will be taking the tests in the fall of their Senior year.

Happy prepping!

About Tina

Tina Wiles has a unique background. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan,  but she is also a certified high school math teacher! She has been working in the testing industry for over 13 years and has found her passion. To gain more knowledge about the test and to understand what her students are going through, Tina takes the ACT and SAT herself 2-3 times a year (and yes, she scores perfect!). Contact Tina today to for a free consultation to get ALL your ACT vs SAT questions answered.