So the most important first step has been made – you know your teen’s better exam. BTW, the assessment can be taken as early as 10th grade though extensive test prep is NOT recommended at this time.
We recommend that students begin preparing the summer before junior year as those students tend to ultimately score higher on either exam. Two-thirds of the preparation is completed before school resumes in the fall. Since junior year is the ‘pivot year’ – a lot more homework and reading on their plates – students would only need to come every other week for ‘maintenance’ after school starts.
As we work with our students, we are able to tune in how well they are learning the skill sets and applying the newly learned strategies.
We are also sensitive to the student’s cognitive thinking skills. Is (s)he still a more concrete rather than abstract thinker? What is her/his maturity level when it comes to contemplating consequences for his/her actions and planning for the future? The above are considered major factors that dramatically influence how a student takes and approaches a standardized exam.
Factoring performance on practice and the above more subjective variables enables us to confidently recommend that our higher performing students take the SAT in November or December or the ACT in December.
Students who require more time to mature in their cognitive thinking skills and/or need more (school) reading behind their belts will be recommended to take their first SAT in January or March or the ACT in February.
Students should take the test 2-3 times. Over that number will rarely merit any significant increase.
Ultimately, to assure a student will be getting a score commensurate to his/her potential, a minimum of 40 hours of practice and/or instruction is recommended. (Our students typically commit to 2 hours a week of tutoring over 2-4 month period complemented by 2-3 hours of homework per week.)
The second administration for the SAT can be in May or June (depending on the student’s AP and school exam schedule.) The spring ACT administrations are in April and June.
Taking the exams in the fall of senior year – September, October, November or even December is a viable option for most students. Scores often rise as the students maturity level and skill sets are typically stronger.
- If your student is applying early admission, taking the exam in September or October will be the last test date option.
- If your teen is applying regular decision, taking the exam by December or January is fine.
MYTH: There is an ‘easier’ ACT or SAT exam date. Until I dug a little deeper, I used to buy into that myth. For instance, I thought that the May exam was a fairer test because of the typically diverse pool of students taking that particular administration. The truth is both the ACT and SAT ‘curve’ the test year-by-year and perhaps over a decade. Since both exams have questions that are on previous tests, they are able to use these questions to compare students to each other. (Test questions that ‘repeat’ are not on the test dates that release the test booklets to students.)
Here is a easy-to-read chart of all of the test dates and registration deadlines. Make sure you print it out and keep it handy. If you choose, I can help and guide you through this process and provide you with a personalized game plan of the next best steps for your teen.
I look forward to our connecting!