In past blog posts I have shared reasons for studying for the SAT this summer, and tips for studying effectively over summer break. In this post I want to help you decide whether you should be studying this summer. Planning effectively is the key to having a successful test-prep experience. Below are some questions you should consider when trying to decide whether summer test-prep is right for you:
Are you a rising sophomore or junior?
At TestRocker we recommend that students spend the summers after their sophomore and junior years studying for the SAT/ACT. We make this recommendation so that students have a chance to prep while the majority of their distractions are at a minimum.
For juniors and seniors who are in the midst of their college process the earlier they secure their target score, the better. Many colleges and universities do not accept scores after January of senior year.
What is your target score?
I write often about the importance of having a goal in mind when you study. Not only does this provide a source of motivation, it also can help you develop a test-prep plan. Once you know how far away from your target score, you will know how much preparation you need to do to get to your desired score. If you are very far from your target score, it might make sense to dedicate some of your summer to studying.
How many times have you already taken the SAT or ACT?
We recommend taking the SAT a maximum of three times and the ACT twice. Going into summer if you’re planning to take the SAT or ACT for the last time in the fall or winter, it makes sense to give yourself the added confidence of preparing over the summer.
When are you planning to take the SAT or ACT?
The October SAT and September/October ACT test dates are popular amongst juniors and seniors. Studying over the summer will allow you to feel well prepared for your fall test dates. This will allow you to use September/October for a light review of the material until your test day.
How much free time will you have during the summer vs. the school year?
No matter what you have planned during the summer, odds are you will have more free time than you normally have during the school year. It will be easier to balance your test-prep with your other obligations. Leverage this time wisely. Spend it working towards and achieving your target score.
What are your academic and extra-curricular obligations in the coming school year?
While you decide whether the bulk of your test-prep should take place during the school year or summer, think about your obligations for the coming school year. Consider the following questions:
- Will you have less time to prepare because of certain commitments?
- Are you planning to take any AP classes?
- Will you be playing for any varsity teams that might require you to dedicate time after school?
- Planning to take on more student leadership roles?
If you are planning to do any of these things and take the SAT or ACT, studying during the summer will allow you to manage your time more efficiently during the school year.