When should I start studying for the SAT?

Short answer: December of your Junior year
Long answer: Read on! And it’s never too late!

At Brooklyn Math Tutors, we get calls all the time from parents and students at ends of this spectrum:


Both of these are extremes. At Brooklyn Math Tutors, we endorse beginning to study on your own “Goldilocks Date.” That is, the moment that is juuuuuuust right!

Here’s how to determine your own Goldilocks Date:

1. Sign up for a real simulated practice test

That’s right! A real one! In a test center!

There are tons of options to sit for a FREE practice test because many companies use practice tests as “hooks” to get you to consider their tutoring services. For example, Princeton Review may offer free practice tests in your area.

If getting to a test center will be difficult for you or if you can’t find any in your area, you can do a practice test through a test prep company online. For example: Kaplan offers free practice tests + score reviews.

Or you can do it yourself! Find a quiet location, grab a stopwatch and a calculator, turn off your smartphone, and set aside about 5 hours. Print a practice test from the web, do the test, and score it. Here’s some free ACT and SAT practice tests that you can print.

2. Get your score.

How far are you from your goal score?

I wantWe recommend that you studyWe recommend that you take the test inWe recommend that you doWe recommend that you
 50 more points  10 hours 1 month 500 practice problems Self study
 100 more points  20 hours 2 months 1000 practice problems Get a tutor for 3-5 sessions
 200 more points  20-50 hours 2-3 months 2000+ practice problemsGet a tutor for 5-8 sessions
 300 more points  50-80 hours 3-6 months 3000+ practice problems Get a tutor for 8-12 sessions and consider a prep course
 350+ more points  100+ hours 5+ months3500+ practice problems Get a tutor for 15+ sessions and go through a prep course

3. Pick a date that you will take the test

To find the upcoming SAT test dates: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/dates-deadlines
To find the upcoming ACT test dates: http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/taking-the-test.html

4. Make a study plan

Do you need to study one topic more than the other?

How much can you realistically study each day?

What materials will you need?

Tip: you can buy most SAT and ACT prep books online for very cheap
Tip: Khan Academy has excellent free SAT study resources available

When can you take an additional practice test to gauge your progress?

5. What support will you need?

Do you need a tutor to explain certain concepts to you?

Do you need a tutor or prep course to help you stay on track with your study plan?

Do you need to designate a certain area of the house as a quiet study-zone?

Do you need your parents to help hold you accountable for studying during defined periods of time?

Do you need to deactivate your Facebook or Instagram or other distractions during this time?

6. Go for it!

The SAT and ACT are very trainable tests and you CAN do it!

Need a tutor? We tutor in person in NYC or by Skype around the world! Give us a call at 718.552.0300 or send us an email today.

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Rachel Cohen

Rachel Cohen

Rachel is an experienced tutor living in Brooklyn, NY who has worked with dozens of students studying for the ACT, SAT, ISEE, and SSAT. She has a BA from Penn and works full-time as a management consultant. She is also a tutor, blogger, and prolific traveler.
Rachel Cohen