Conventional wisdom says that students should take the SAT/ACT exams sometime during their junior year of high school. Parents typically pick a testing date based on this advice and then race to enroll their student in a prep class, or private tutoring sessions, four to six weeks before the test date.
But it’s not the best strategy.
A month or two of test prep isn’t enough to make a substantial difference in a test score. Students only learn broad strategies and a handful of concepts and don’t have adequate time to do enough homework or to practice. This is part of the reason national average improvement on the SAT is so low: only about a 30-point improvement after the test is taken again.
THE 4 MONTH RULE OF THUMB
At Streamline Tutors, we know that the strategies and concepts on the SAT/ACT need to become second nature to deliver the 200+ and 5+ point improvements, respectively, that we see on average with our tutees.
Years of working with a wide array of students have shown us that four months of 1.5 hour weekly sessions is the sweet spot that guarantees the best test results.
Of course, this is a general recommendation — some students will need more prep, and some will need a little less.
Some factors to consider:
Conceptual knowledge. Major holes in conceptual knowledge — concepts learned over years of middle and high school courses — will necessitate longer tutoring commitment. It’s naive to think that a student can pick them all up in just a few months.
Strength of knowledge and skill sets. If the student already has adopted strong study skill sets and has a fair amount of conceptual knowledge, he or she may not need the full four months.
Math aptitude. The SAT math section requires students to understand about 50 math concepts. In contrast, the grammar section only features about 13 concepts. Therefore, students who have a strong math aptitude will likely need less prep time.
HOW TO MAKE A MEANINGFUL DIFFERENCE IN YOUR SAT/ACT SCORE (Click to read full article)