Dogwood’s Approach to ACT-SAT Prep

What is the best way to start the test prep process? Some well-intentioned counselors advise students to take a real ACT and a real SAT and then decide which test to prepare for. The Dogwood approach, on the other hand, uses practice tests to gather information about each student’s needs. We evaluate those detailed results, the student’s academic strengths and other practical considerations to select which test to prepare for first.

  1. Image of pole vault athleteTake real ACT and SAT tests only when you are properly prepared. Until then, take practice tests instead. Use recent PSAT results as a predictor of SAT performance.
  2. In late 10th grade or early 11th grade, take a full-length ACT practice test at Dogwood to experience the timing and feel of the test. See whether ACT or SAT (or PSAT) feels like a better fit. See which test yields a higher score. Then decide which test to prepare for first. Avoid bouncing back and forth between tests.
  3. If you haven’t taken a recent PSAT, take a SAT and/or PSAT practice test. Dogwood also offers an excellent ACT vs SAT Diagnostic Test. We administer proctored practice tests at no charge at the Dogwood center throughout the year, usually on Saturday mornings.
  4. If you scored in the 90th percentile or higher on the PSAT in 10th grade, consider doing some preparation for the PSAT in October of 11th grade. If you score in the top 3% nationally in junior year, you can earn recognition from the National Merit Scholarship program. The PSAT prep is essentially the same as SAT prep, so you’ll also be ready for the earlier SAT dates.
  5. Plan to take the ACT or SAT (or both tests) two or three times in junior year, starting as early as practical in 11th grade. Many students can benefit from starting test prep in the summer before junior year. Test prep can require about five hours per week, so try to schedule it when your workload isn’t already overwhelming.
  6. Make time to practice, practice, practice. Avoid shortcuts.

Call Dogwood at 678-735-7555 or email to discuss strategic options for moving forward with testing, given your student’s specific situation. Test prep is not a ‘one size fits all’ process. We’re here to help you customize a plan to help your child achieve his or her best results.

Read more about the importance of ACT and SAT practice tests