Text us at get started (469) 414 - 0597

How Should I Prepare for the SAT or ACT?

  • 12th November 2018
  • Lauren Bachelder

We’ll give you the good news up front: A standard package of 12-16 one-on-one tutoring hours usually yields 3-5 points of improvement on the ACT and 100-140 points of improvement on the SAT!

Here’s what else you need to know:

  1. Start thinking about your goal test date during the summer after your sophomore year.

    When should you start taking the actual test?
    Technically, you can start taking the ACT/SAT as early as your freshman year. (But we don’t recommend that!). Most students begin testing spring of their junior year in order to leave time to complete advanced math classes. Both SAT and ACT test geometry, algebra II, and trigonometry. However, you may choose to begin testing during fall of your junior year if you are ahead in math or plan on studying these math concepts outside of class.

    When is testing offered?
    7 ACT dates are set for 2018: September, October, December, February, April, June, and July. There are also 7 SAT dates: March, May, June, August, October, November, and December.How many tests can you take?
    Technically, you can take the ACT up to twelve times and the SAT is unlimited. (But that’s crazy.) We recommend taking the exam 1-3 times, because this is the average number of takes necessary to meet a reasonable score goal. (Remember that your time is limited, and other factors of your college application such as extracurricular activities and GPA are important too!)

    When is the latest you can test in order for the scores to make it onto your college applications?
    It depends. You should look up application deadlines for all the colleges that are on your list. As a general rule, for “Early Action” or “Early Decision,” you must take the ACT by October of your senior year at the very latest and the SAT by November. For regular decision, take the ACT by February of your senior year at the very latest and the SAT by January.

  2. Set Your Score Goals.

    What’s your diagnostic score?
    Before you start studying, take a real, practice SAT or ACT under the correct timing and conditions to see where your score currently lies! Find a practice ACT here, and practice SAT here, and afterwards compare your scores with this percentile chart!

    What is the average ACT/SAT score of the students accepted into your goal colleges?
    Check the score listings on the websites of the colleges on your list to see about what scores you need to make the cut! (Don’t forget that an impressive resume or high GPA may compensate for lower-than-average test scores!)

    How much can you raise your score?
    It depends on how much time you devote to studying. Here are general rules of thumb for SAT and ACT score increases:ACT
    0-1 point improvement: 0 hours
    1-2 point improvement: 20 hours
    2-4 point improvement: 40 hours
    4-6 point improvement: 80 hours
    6-9 points improvement: 150+ hours

    0-30 point improvement: 10 hours
    30-70 point improvement: 20 hours
    70-130 point improvement: 40 hours
    130-200 point improvement: 80 hours
    200-330 point improvement: 150+ hours

    Don’t know whether to take the ACT or SAT? We have a blog on that too!

  3. Use your score goals to make a study plan.
    Once you know your goal test date, pick a test, take a diagnostic, and set your score goal, it’s time to start studying!Navigating online resources and prep books on your own can be a nightmare, and group-style prep courses may not give you the individual attention that you need!

    Instead, book a tutor. For a personalized, simple, and successful game plan, book an Apollo Tutor who is an expert in test taking and can meet your individual learning style and needs!

    For more about our SAT/ACT tutoring, visit us at