School’s out for summer — and while you’ve earned the right to some rest and relaxation, this is the perfect time to start prepping for your SAT and ACT. With fewer obligations on your plate than during the school year, you can make huge strides in your college application potential with just a small bit of daily effort.
Before you launch right into your preparation, though, you need to make sure that you’re using the right system to suit your goals, learning style, and schedule. This guide aims to teach you, in just a few minutes, how to find the perfect program to boost your scores over the next few weeks.
First Things First: Which Test Should You Take?
With the rollout of the new SAT fast-approaching (and with the PSAT already aligned to the format of the new SAT), it’s important that you spend your time focusing on the right exam. The new SAT is going to be almost identical to the current ACT in terms of content, style, and structure. Once it is launched in 2016, these tests are going to be very similar. With that in mind, there are two courses of action that I recommend:
If you’re committed to taking the SAT, focus on the current one and take it before the change in March 2016. For help with this test, take a look at my free guide on the topic. Better yet, focus your energies on the ACT. You’ll be able to use your ACT skills on the new SAT and you’ll be ready for the ACT whenever you choose to take it. This approach will allow you to kill two metaphorical birds with one stone.
No matter which test you take, make sure that you choose a system that allows you to study for every option without paying extra. If you decide to switch tests or to take both the ACT and the SAT, it’s important not to spend extra money on redundant test-prep materials.
Step Two: Choose a Summer-Friendly Program!
If you’re like most students, your summer schedule is all over the place. While you might have more free time overall, you don’t have the regularity and predictability that the school year provides. You want a program that can accommodate your travel plans, activities, work, and more.
A few things to consider when you’re considering test prep systems:
Look for consistency.
Short-term, high-intensity “boot camp” programs aren’t the best way to prep. The students who score highest on the SAT and ACT are those who put in small, steady efforts every day. These exams test your long-term memory and skills, both of which benefit most from consistent, light effort on a daily basis. Make sure that you choose a system that you can use each day for several weeks or months. It’s important to have something in place for a quick study session, even if you’ve only got five minutes to spare.
Flexibility is essential.
In terms of timing and location, you’ll want a system that you can use whenever and wherever you’re free. If your schedule changes in the middle of the summer, or if you’re traveling, you don’t want to be locked into a test prep option that you’ll have to abandon later. This is one of the reasons online systems are so popular. Whether you want to work in the morning or at night, or whether you’re in New York or China, you’ll want something that will always be there when you need it. Remember: consistency is key, so flexible availability is a must.
Above all else, look for results.
There’s only one reason you’re prepping: You want higher scores. No matter which prep option you choose, make sure that it has an extensive track record of significant score improvements. Whether you choose a tutor or an online program, you should be looking for results first, and bells and whistles second. Read testimonials, check references, and research posted score improvements. If they’re not what you’re looking for, keep searching until you find something that you know will work for you!
If you study for the right test and pick the right system, you can use the summer to get a huge leg up on the college competition!