Follow up to My Earlier Question About SAT Study

Updated on October 24, 2013
P.H. asks from McKinney, TX
7 answers

Thank you very much to all of you who shared what your kids did to study for the SAT test. Your advice was very helpful.
I've decided that although my son has fantastic grades but is not a self starter, I plan to have him take a prep class for the SAT in a classroom. When did your kids take the class? My son is in 10th grade and I'm wondering if next summer would be the best time or if it should be taken earlier. I'm going to call the school tomorrow, but wanted to hear from you when your kids took their class. Thank you!

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answers from Boston on

Hi - when I talk to parents about this (I teach it) we recommend starting no sooner than the summer after Sophomore year. Next summer would be a great time for him to take a course in preparation for taking the October 2014 exam. After he would be able to review his materials and the strategies he learned on his own to improve his scores even further before taking it again in the spring of 2015 (most big companies have extra practice material on-line that students have access to for self-study after the course ends). March and May are the more popular exam dates for the spring. Unless a student has a winter sport or activity that make March not ideal, I usually recommend March so that there is room to test again later in the spring if desired. June of Junior year is a great time to take subject tests so I usually recommend that students NOT plan on taking the SAT in June of Junior year so that they can get subject tests in.

If he ends up not doing it over the summer, taking a course in the fall or spring of Junior year is very common and is fine. The best time depends on how busy your son will be in either season.

The only testing to consider as a Sophomore would be subject tests in June if he is planning on taking any and is finishing up a non-cumulative course this year that he does very well in. Taking honors or AP Biology and has an A? Take the Biology subject test this year. Math and English? Wait until the end of Junior year.

It's great that you're thinking ahead - right now, his focus should be on his GPA (it counts for 50% of what colleges look at) and on establishing some depth in his extra-curriculars. Test prep next summer or Junior year, 2-3 SAT tests Junior year, subject tests Junior year, then the summer after that he can focus on his essay(s), visit schools, and get organized for submitting applications the fall of Senior year.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I teach a semester long SAT prep class and also teach additional summer and after school courses which are shorter. I've been trained by college board and teach 5 sections of AP English Language. I've also written curriculum for these courses. I only say this so that you will know that I come to you with some knowledge on this topic.

The college board trainers that I've spoken to directly state that students who take the test in June following their Junior year typically have the highest scores. That's overall. Of course it's not true for everyone, and typically scores go up every time students take the test. They think the reason for this is because Junior year is the most challenging year of high school, and although the SAT is skills based rather than content based, students are so academically engaged still in June that they do well on the test. I encourage my Juniors to take the test in March and then again in June. Then they will be able to focus on applying for scholarships in the fall of their senior year. I'm encouraging my own son (who is a sophomore) to do the same.

As for prep courses, I agree with TF. Take a course that is near the time of the test. More than one course isn't a bad idea either. I also encourage students to take the ACT and the SAT unless they have already decided on a university and they know that the university prefers one test over the other. Many students do better on one test than the other, so students need to see how they do on each. Many schools will take either, so it will benefit them to see which one they do better on. In the semester long course I teach, I focus on the SAT, but spend a couple of weeks on the ACT. Many of my students do better on the ACT. It's interesting.

My son took and ACT prep course the summer before 9th grade just because he wanted to stay fresh over the summer academically. Then he took an ACT practice test in the 9th grade and did well on it. He took the PSAT this year. Results aren't in yet. Next summer (summer before junior year) he will take an SAT prep course. He's in a different district than I am, or he would take the semester course that I teach. Before he takes the SAT in March and June, I will go over materials with him. If needed he can take the SAT again in the fall of his senior year, but we're hoping he won't need to.

That's our plan. I hope this helps.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Should start in the summer between 10th and 11th grade. If you do Karen Dillard, they recommend taking the SAT in Jan because fewer kids take it then and so there is less competition. The you also have time to take it more times to make sure you have the best score. The more tests you take the better you score. If you want to do early decision for a college, you will be ready to do that the fall of senior year. It counts with very competitive placements like veterinary medicine.
Hope that helps.

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answers from Dallas on

We did our Princeton Review training after the PSAT for Junior year.

We chose to do the exam prep closest to the exam times. Keep in mind that he can take each test more than once to improve scores and send the best scores to the colleges of his choice.

We also paid extra for the prep if college apps and essay reviews.

Also, you can get a lot if good info on There is a parent section.

You are on target with your prep... Your planning now will help your child when he starts this process.

A lot of people scowl at any money being spent on college prep but this is THE opportunity for your student which can also involve scholarships.

We have no regrets with our tutor program with Princeton. Our daughter was accepted to several good schools and landed and SMU in Dallas due to her interest in business.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter(now a sophomore) will take the prep class this summer before going into her junior year. She will then take the SATs in the fall of junior year.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Our hs offers a 6 week SAT prep class, Saturday mornings and Thursdays after school. Cost was $130 including all materials. I feel it was an enormous help for both my boys, and my daughter will be taking it this winter, she's a Junior this year, boys took it in 11th as well.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

We didn't do SAT, but my daughter took an ACT prep course through Kaplan during the spring of junior year. It was for her 2nd shot at the test, she took the test for the first time while she was still taking the course. I didn't want her to take the class too far in advance of the test, and in her case, since it was the ACT, she was first taking Trigonometry junior year and I wanted her to have a good foundation in that before taking the prep - not a concern for the SAT, since there is no trigonometry in their math section.
Good luck!

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