Make a SAT or ACT Test Prep Plan

To Test Prep or Not

Hello Juniors….some of you are actually already studying for your SAT or ACT.  Some are just now beginning to think of this as you have completed your PSAT or PreACT.  I want people to make this choice judiciously.  There are many companies, websites, tutors, classes, strip mall tutoring centers, etc. to choose from and the costs range from seemingly inexpensive to outrageously expensive.

What to do?  You can wait until you get your Pre or PSAT scores.  You do not have to rush into this.  However, I will tell you that most people take more than one administration of these tests.  Recently the SAT has returned to favorability in terms of both the volume of people taking the test and the number of admitted applicants by SAT scores.  Both tests, now, have similar formats, save the Science section of the ACT.  If you choose the essay option, the ACT essay is a bit more challenging to score well on than the SAT option, but both test’s essays are not easy to do, period.  I actually offer a separate online package just for the essay section, as many do feel they can study for these tests by themselves or with Khan Academy alone, but the essay does often require personal support.

It is best to plan out how you want to study for two test administrations.  If you are in AP courses, it is best to NOT take the SAT in May but rather the SAT Subject Tests because they mimic some of the AP tests.  Typically people, who are prepping for their AP tests, can also do the SAT Subject test simultaneously.

So there is an SAT coming up in December, but right now is late registration.  The next SAT is March, then May, June and August…..before school in the fall.  You can also take it in October, November, or next December for applications for the Class of 2024.  There is an ACT coming up in December, but it is also probably too late as locations are not as many as the SAT, and it sells out ahead of time.  The next ACT is February, then April and June and July before the next school year start.  Then in the fall you can take it in September or the end of October.   Choose your dates now.  Figure out at least two test dates that will work best for you to prepare in time.  Know that you can take the test as many times as you can fit in before you send your scores.  You can select which test scores to send.

Many schools offer score choice, which means the top scores by section are taken and added together.  For the ACT, you have to send the sets of scores.  For the SAT, the College Board actually shows you the best option to send by college and offers you the opportunity to send the best combination of scores only or something else.  The college will get only the top Reading and Writing and the top Math.  Now if the school requires the essay and you did not take one test administration with it, but you top Reading and Writing is the one without the essay, you can actually opt to send two sets of scores instead.  You can send your top Reading and Writing test date scores and the one with your best Essay sub-score, and the college will then Super Score choice your tests and take the best Essay sub-score into consideration as well.  So no worries about having to do the essay each time you take the test.

Many schools do not require you to take the essay, but if you want to keep your options open, you might want to do at least one test administration with the Essay.  That way should you fall in love with a school that requires the Essay, you have it.  Colleges are not interested in making your sweat this out; all colleges will give you the best benefit when it comes to scores.  There are few really large schools that do not look at the component scores by subject; they consider ONLY the composite score.  This happens far more frequently with the ACT than the SAT.  The composite scores are not usually as generous as a super score, but it will be the same for all applicants to that school, so no worries there, either.

If you need someone to discuss how best to prep for your SAT, contact us.  We also provide packages of online tutoring that are reasonable and very effective.  Remember when it comes to purchasing support in the form of teaching something, price is typically not the best determinant of quality or effectiveness.  Cheaper prices are not necessarily reflective of poor quality; it depends on the time purchased, etc.  Khan Academy is free, and many have found it a really good resource to start.  Also expensive doesn’t necessarily guarantee you score improvements off the charts.  I heard just yesterday of a student, whose parents paid for a terribly costly tutoring service $650/hour, but the student after parents had spent over $14,000, had lower scores than when she started.

Now, scores do go up and down.  There is no serious guarantee anyone or any company can make in terms of results.  However, typically people with experience are better.  However, a large portion is also about how much time and effort the student puts in to the process.  Clearly people who do the work are more likely to see scores improve than those who do not.  End of Story!

So time to make a plan about test prep, we are happy to help you create a plan that is doable in terms of work, time, and cost. 

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