When should you start SAT or ACT Test Prep?

child the summer off from academics

Many students rely on their high school to start the College Admission testing process.

In addition, some schools offer SAT prep workshops on campus. We believe that an SAT/ACT study plan is not one size fits all. What works for your child’s friends may not work for your child.

In fact, following most school’s timelines will not address your student’s specific needs, and often times, will leave your student in a time crunch to reach their individual goals.

Starting test prep at the right time, in conjunction with the right type of program, is the key to your student’s success.

Consider their study preferences, SAT goals (read How many times can you take the SAT test?), and identify resources to create a study plan. Consider the following:

Free Programs

You should try to take advantage of free programs, if they meet your student’s needs. Usually these programs do not address specific strengths and weaknesses that your student may have. The free or low-fee-large-group programs do not teach specific SAT/ACT test-taking strategies. Online programs lack coaching and the accountability that the student needs to master challenging concepts.

Group vs. Private

Group programs start at a minimum of 10 students. As a parent you have to decide where your student will thrive more. If they are going to get lost in the crowd, stay away from these, as they will only frustrate your student. Small-group or private will benefit them more. By the way—we take great pride in offering small-group and one-on-one programs.

If your student is involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, then private programs will offer the flexibility you need. Or, if your student falls in the category of needing just a few points to get into their dream college, then private is the best investment of their time and your money, as the tutor can exclusively focus on maximizing their strengths and minimizing unique weaknesses, to ultimately reach their best possible score.


If your student has taken the SAT or ACT and scored in the range they need for college admission—then congratulations. However, if they did not score in the range for admission to their “reach” school, plan on an additional three to six months to prep for their second and third attempt.

If their score will not garner them admission into their “match” school, plan on studying for another three months in order to improve in all sections of the exam and internalize the timing before their next attempt.

Call us for a free SAT/ACT test prep consultation!