Are you wondering when should you take an SAT prep course?
The best time to take such a course is around four to six months before the test day. Most test prep companies will give you 6-12 months of access to their materials. But four to six months is a perfect timeframe because it allows you to study intensely, and calmly, and to retain what you’ve learned more easily. It’s also great to take such a course before your first SAT attempt (which is usually in the spring of your junior year). In this way, you’ll do the test prep throughout January, February, and March when nothing interesting is happening, and then get a great score on your very first attempt. You’ll also have adequate math knowledge to deal with SAT questions by this time. Another great time for a course is in summer when you have more time. If that’s the case, you would aim for the October SAT date and sign up for the course in June or July.
Before a course, see how you score on the PSAT
Do your best on the preliminary SAT (PSAT) and see what score you achieve without a test prep course. You can also complete two or three full-length practice tests and check your current abilities. If you score high, you may skip the course altogether and study on your own. But if you’re not satisfied with your performance, it’s good to take a course before the real exam. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on an SAT course.
There are a couple of inexpensive or even free options on the market:
Taking a prep course before your second or third SAT attempt
You may also decide to take a course after you’ve failed on your first or second attempt because now you know you need to go all in. Just make sure that the course won’t collide with the college application process. Take it long before the end of your senior year.
What to do before signing up for an SAT prep course?
Keep the right timeframe in mind. SAT is administered 7 times a year (September, October, December, February, April, June, and July), and you have ample time for three attempts during your high school years. So you have a lot of time! The right moment to take a prep course is when you don’t have many other responsibilities and you can devote more time to your studies. This can mean summer, the beginning of winter, as well as the beginning of a school semester when things are still “warming up”, and there aren’t many tests and other things consuming your attention.
Twelve months is too far away from the test date
There’s no point taking an SAT prep course twelve months before you plan to pass the test. This will only dilute your efforts and you won’t remember as much. But when you know the deadline is coming, you’ll naturally feel more motivated to study and you’ll absorb new skills more easily.
There’s never a perfect time to take a prep course because it all depends on your situation. Is it your first attempt to pass the test? The second one? What’s your baseline score? If you’re still a long way from attaining your dream score, sign up for a course a bit earlier so you have extra time. Think about all these factors, and you’ll come up with the right solution.
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