Plan Now for ACT-SAT Testing in 11th Grade

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Many parents ask: When is the best time to take the ACT or SAT?  We recommend that students plan to take a test (or both tests) two or three times during junior year. There are many practical reasons for this recommendation – and for building a testing schedule that meets your student’s individual needs.

Why do the testing in junior year?

Because there will be so much other stuff to do in senior year. It takes time for seniors to visit colleges, submit applications and gather recommendations ON TOP OF the normal workload for school, sports, etc. Test prep also takes time, about 4-5 hours a week. It’s better to get testing done as a junior (or the following summer) so that senior year will be less overwhelming.

Why take a test two or three times?

Because it’s so rare to hit a home run the first time at bat. There is a learning curve for students to achieve their best test results. There are seven ACT test dates each year and seven SAT dates. Plan to take a test on two consecutive test dates so there is minimal learning loss in between. If you skip a test date, there could be more than a three-month gap between tests.

When should juniors start testing?

Generally, the earlier the better (including the summer before 11th grade) … but it all depends. The first practical consideration is how strong are the student’s math skills? If she’s taking pre-calculus now, then there is little reason to wait. If he’s taking Algebra 2 now, then he shouldn’t rush into ACT-SAT testing because algebra is the biggest category on both tests. It’s better to learn algebra first in the classroom and let the tutor refine those skills during the test prep process. Our tutors can certainly introduce new topics and fill any gaps in subject skills, but it could add to the time and expense of test prep.

Pick a time during junior year when your student’s plate isn’t already overloaded.

The best example is football players, whose summer and fall schedules are absolutely packed. While we’ve had some football players successfully handle the extra workload that comes with test prep, we recommend that they wait until November. Plan for five dedicated hours of test prep per week—two hours for tutoring sessions and three for taking practice tests at home. If your student has an accommodation for extended-time testing, he will need 4.5 hours for practice exercises (total of 6.5 hours per week). Note that practice testing at home may be broken into pieces, with one test section per sitting.

Here’s a proven plan to make test prep work efficiently and effectively for your student:

  1. Call Ivan at Dogwood to schedule a free diagnostic test to get a baseline look at skills and also see which test to try first.
  2. When results are ready, meet at the center to review the results and discuss strategic options for moving forward. Bring along all your questions about testing.
  3. Pick the test date for the first ACT or SAT.
  4. Start test prep 6+ weeks before the test date.
  5. Take a proctored practice test at Dogwood 2-3 weeks before the test date.
  6. Your student should meet weekly with the math tutor and/or reading-writing tutor. Parents will receive notes that tutors write after each session, which include feedback on progress being made.
  7. About two weeks after your student takes the test, download the score report and share it with Ivan.
  8. Update the testing plan as needed.

Please read what other parents (and students) say about Dogwood’s one-on-one ACT-SAT test prep. Testing is not a ‘one size fits all’ process. At Dogwood, we help you customize a plan to help your child achieve his or her best results. Call 678-735-7555 or email for more information.