3 years ago
Admissions Advice

How much time it took you to study for the SAT or ACT?

I finish HS in September, planning to apply for early action on November 1, 2021. I have enough time to study and take the test at the time I finish HS?


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
3 years ago[edited]

It depends on a few factors which are -

1) What your baseline score is. The only way you can assess that is to take a practice ACT and practice SAT. If you get a 21 ACT and a 1050 SAT, then you are testing at the average for all test takers. If you get a 24 ACT and 1200 SAT you are at 75% percentile. And if you get a 29 ACT and 1350, you are at the 90% percentile. Once you establish your baseline you can tell whether you are far away from your goal score or getting very close.

2) What your college list looks like from Safety, Targets to Reaches. If your target schools are say 29-32 ACT for the middle 50% percentile and 1350 to 1450, and your baseline is 24 ACT/1200 SAT, then you know you have some serious work to do just to get in the ballpark of your targets. After studying say 5-6 weeks taking a practice test every Saturday, you can tell whether you are making progress or not. If you are not testing at the target school level, you might want to re-adjust your school list and pull everything back a notch.

3.) What your headspace is for grinding through this process. For some HS applicants test scores are a pain in the butt and they are only going to put in say 5 hours a week and then shoot their shot because they don't think it's that critical. I know plenty of really smart kids who just decided that they were not going to go "all in" with SAT/ACT prep. And guess what, they got scores much less than what they expected to get, and didn't come close to getting into their target or reach schools. If they were lucky, they got into 1 target. Other HS applicants understand that the current admissions cycle is hyper-competitive so they need to have test scores in the middle of the middle. So if their reach school is 31-35 ACT or 1400-1560 SAT, they are aiming for a 33 ACT and 1480 SAT. Why? Because they know that legacies, recruited athletes, VIPs, development candidates, and sons/daughters of employees get in with lower test scores and most of them cluster around the 25% percentile. The rest of us have to have 50% to 100% scores to stand a chance.

I will share my SAT/ACT time commitment with you. I studied for 3 months or 250 hours (about 3 hours a day) for the SAT, took the test and got a score of 50 pts lower than my average practice tests. I then took it a 2nd time without studying very much during the school year thinking I retained it and got a score of 60 pts lower than my first test. Dismayed, I switched tests and started studying for the ACT. I spent 200 hours on the ACT and took the test and got a 98% percentile score. Then I took it again and got a 96% percentile score. Then I crammed a Supertutortv online course for 100 hours and got a 99%+ percentile score.

I'm going to Columbia University with a 3.66% acceptance rate. If I didn't have a test score to submit, I'm 99% sure I would have been flat out rejected. For me, there was no room for failure, so I did whatever I had to get the scores I needed to compete in this historical low acceptance environment.

I think there are many many Class of 2025 applicants that have regrets about not starting their ACT/SAT prep earlier say in 9th or 10th grade, and just as many have regrets for thinking that not submitting a test score was okay this cycle. But it wasn't the case.

Good luck.

3 years ago

If you have an IEP 6 hours +. If you are doing regular then about 4 hrs

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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