Frequently Asked Questions
How many hours of tutoring does a student need?
The short answer is, it depends on each individual.
The time needed for a particular student will depend on where his/her current test scores are, where he or she would like them to be, and how many hours he/she is able to put in outside of our sessions.
At Action Test Prep, we work on three areas:
The approach to the test
This involves learning how the test is written, how its test writers think, and how to maximize one's scores within those parameters. Standardized tests differ greatly from classic school exams and require specific strategies for success.
Help in subject areas
If we need to fill gaps in academic content such as writing and grammar, reading comprehension, or math, this will require more time and sessions.
Performance under testing conditions
Even after a student has mastered both content and an understanding of the test, he or she needs to practice performing under stressful exam conditions, as well.
Ultimately, these factors combine to make an extremely variable range of hours needed. Some students have required as little as 15 hours of tutoring, while others have put in over 150 hours to achieve their desired scores. On average, most students do best with at least 30 hours of instruction, spread out over a 3-6 month period. At Action Test Prep, we require a minimum booking of 10 sessions (1.5 hours per session) to start with.
When should a student start tutoring?
At Action Test Prep, we do not advise tutoring before sophomore year. There is rarely enough interest or motivation on the part of the student, and he/she risks burning out by starting so early, as well. Having said that, it is never too soon for a student to start reading periodicals or taking an interest in current events, which are easy ways to prepare for both tests.
Do consider beginning during the spring of sophomore year and taking advantage of the summer between 10th and 11th grade - a time free of other academic obligations. Most juniors take on a heavy course load during 11th grade, so it can be difficult to schedule regular tutoring sessions without creating undue stress.
Generally, regular meetings over a 3-6 month period provide the most consistent results with the least amount of stress.
Which test should my child take – the SAT or ACT?
Again, this depends. Interestingly enough, since the SAT was revamped in March of 2016, both tests have started to resemble each other more and more. That being said, there are still some clear differences. The SAT demands strong reading comprehension skills (as it starts with a 65 minute reading comprehension section) but does not feature an independent science section. The ACT has a unique science section (and also limits the reading comprehension test to 35 minutes), which often makes it the prime choice for students who prefer math and science. It does, however, have much more stringent time limits, making it less desirable to those who struggle with time.
Luckily, in the beginning, the test prep for both the SAT and ACT is quite similar. We recommend that students try both tests at least once to determine either a clear preference for or advantage on a particular test. This allows them to discover and then focus on the test to which they're best suited.
When should a student take the tests?
Again, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The general rule of thumb is that a student should take these tests when he/she can fit them into his/her busy schedule with the least amount of anxiety. This means working around athletic or extra-curricular commitments, exam periods, and other competing activities. His or her goal should be to take each test at least once by the end of junior year, and preferably one of the tests twice. If necessary, he or she will still have additional opportunities at the beginning of senior year, but this period is often stressful and hectic as work on college applications begins.
How does one register for the tests? Does each school provide the testing (like they do with the PSAT and Aspire tests)?
While somes schools do provide a school-wide test day for their students for the SAT or ACT, most do not. High schools that do not build test days into their academic calendars may still be official testing sites (locations designated to administer the exams to all registered students, regardless of whether or not they attend that specific high school), but it is up to the student to register to take these tests.
To register for the SAT, which is administered by the CollegeBoard, a student must create his or her own online account here. This account will allow a student to register for upcoming testing dates, check his or her SAT results once available, and also see AP scores, if the he/she chooses to take AP exams (those are administered by the CollegeBoard, as well).
To register for the ACT, administered by the ACT organization, students should create their accounts (which are different from their CollegeBoard accounts) here. Students may use their online accounts to register for upcoming ACT test dates and to check their scores once they become available.