When is the best time to start preparing for the SAT/PSAT?

The best time will vary depending on the student, the student's schedule, the student's testing profile and tendencies, and many other factors. The earliest we recommend beginning to prepare is the summer before junior year. All students should take the SAT by May or June of their junior year, so the latest we recommend starting preparation is February of junior year. We also provide courses for seniors taking the November SAT. Please give us a call so we can discuss your unique situation and find the best time for your student.


I must take the October SAT if I'm a senior, right?

No. If you’re applying for regular decision (for which applications are usually due in early January), you can take the October, November, or December SATs. If you’re applying for early decision, there’s a good chance your school accepts the November SAT, even if the test is after the deadline, because the results are typically sent to schools before they’re ready to make their decisions. (Different schools have different policies, though, so be sure to call the schools your student is considering to get a definitive answer.) This is fortunate for students, because it is exceedingly difficult (if not impossible) to prepare fully for the SAT in the five weeks between the end of summer vacation and the October SAT. Accordingly, our fall programs prepare seniors for the November SAT. We believe it is much more valuable for a student to be completely prepared for the November test than to rush through an abbreviated course and perform poorly on the October test.


Should my student sign up for the optional essay on the SAT/ACT?

The optional essay is a separate component of the exam, and as such has no bearing on your student’s score on the 1600-point scale for the SAT or the 36-point scale for the ACT. That said, certain colleges require the essay, so we recommend taking it to ensure students are not locked out of applying to those schools. (Of course, if your student knows exactly which schools he or she is applying to and is certain the essay is not required, the essay can certainly be skipped.) Our course does provide instruction on how to write the essay.