Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to Prepare for the SAT and ACT

Is your child a college bound junior?  If so, it is time to tackle the SAT and/or ACT test.  Although a three-hour-plus challenging test is overwhelming to many students, if you take the time to break it down, it will be manageable and rewarding.

If you plan to take the SAT or ACT this spring, we recommend beginning to prepare as soon as possible.  These are not tests that you can cram for.  The best way to begin is to take a practice test from an official test prep book or online. 

It can be overwhelming to take the test all at once, and it’s not necessary.  You can take one section per day, which shouldn’t be difficult to fit in.  Then check your answers and go over every answer, using the explanations from the back of the book.  At this point, you should have a good idea of which areas are your strengths and which areas are your weaknesses.  If you take both the SAT and ACT, you may get an idea of which test is a better match for you.  If you work with a tutor, the tutor can go over the questions and answers with you.

We don’t recommend taking the test cold.  You probably already did this with the PSAT.  If you take the time to prepare, your score will be higher, and if you reach your target the first time, you may not need to re-take the test.  There are many ways to prepare:

1.       Use a prep book to brush up on material and practice.
2.       Go to an SAT or ACT class.
3.       Set up private tutoring sessions.

Students who are very self-motivated, whose PSAT and sample SAT or ACT scores are already near their targets, may be able to prepare independently.  To figure out your target score, look at the score ranges for the colleges you are interested in attending.  You want to strive to score in the top 50% of your desired college.

Students who get motivated and energized from working with their peers may do well in a class.   Since classes typically spend an equal time on each section, they work best for students who need a great deal of preparation and practice in each section.

Students who prefer individual attention and students who need more help in some areas than others do well with one-to-one tutoring.  We sometimes receive requests for only math and science or only reading and writing.  Other students need all areas, but more time in some than others.

We recommend an average of 8 weeks of tutoring, for 1.5 to 4 hours per week.  However, the amount of prep time you need totally depends on how far you are from your target score.  Most students take either the SAT or ACT or both at least twice and tend to do better the second time. 

Whether you take a class or sign up for one-to-one tutoring, your educational sessions must be coupled with individual practice in between sessions to get your money’s worth.  Practicing problems and going over the answers is just as important as working with a tutor.

For more information or to discuss your own situation, please call Tutoring For Success at 703-390-9220. 

Here is a list of registration and test dates for both the SAT and ACT.  Both have late registration dates for an additional fee as well.  To get your first choice of test location, sign up as soon as possible; for best results, begin preparing as soon as possible

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