a year ago
Admissions Advice

When should you start studying for the SAT and ACT

I'm in 8th grade almost a freshman and I took my PSAT in October of 2022. So I was wondering when I should start studying for the SAT and ACT as I plan to take them in my junior year of high school. In addition how many hours per week should one study for these?


Abigail N. Z.

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@PenInTheAnswera year ago

I started studying earlier on and it helped some but the classes you take in high school can also affect when you take the SAT. I recommend taking Pre-Calculus before you take the SAT and schoolhouse.world also have great (and free) SAT prep courses that helped me when I took the SAT.

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a year ago

There is no correct answer to this because these more and more elite colleges are agnostic to standardized test scores. It's one of those things where it's better to start earlier to determine even if you are going to have the potential to get a 98 or 99 percentile score in the end if you are aiming for T25 schools.

Step 1. Determine whether you are a better candidate for the ACT or SAT. How? Take both practice tests and see which one works better for your test-taking style. The ACT is faster and has more questions and more difficult math problems. The SAT is more inferential and a slower-paced test. And has 2X time as many easier math problems.

Step 2. Focus on the test format that best suits you. So if the ACT generates a higher composite percentile focus on that

Step 3. Some people can get a top score by only studying a few hours a week and taking a practice test on Saturdays. Others have to grind about 1-2 hours per day for 3 months over say summer vacation. I would say that most people put in 100-200 hours to get the results they want.

Step 4. Works diligently until you know whether or not you are in the realm of hitting your potential score goal. If you are trying to get a 1530 SAT or 35 ACT, and you have put 200 hours into studying and only have got to 1380 and 29, then I hate to say it but you may not get to a 99% percentile score. Some people think these sorts of tests are 100% intelligence tests so they will argue that only 1% of test takers are going to get that 99% percentile score. While other people think these are sort of a hybrid intelligence test where 75% is intelligence while 25% is how effective your studying is and how you game the test in the short amount of time you have. So if you are born a genius with a high IQ, getting a high SAT or ACT is not going to be that challenging for you. But if you have average intelligence, I would say that with hard work you can get up to a 90%-95% percentile score but there are diminishing returns after some point. There are plenty of students with perfect 4.0 grades who can't get above a 1200 SAT. I think that has more to do with rampant grade inflation.

Step 5. If you get a top score, then submit it. If you can't then don't submit it. Some schools require an SAT or ACT so make sure you are aware of that as part of your college search and making a college list.

a year ago

You can start studying for your standardized test any time you want but I would recommend starting as soon as possible. Around 1 hour for each test should be good but it really depends on your schedule and how much time you have on your hands. There are many programs out there that really help you study in a more structured pattern and I would really encourage you to take them.

a year ago

Now if possible. You don’t need to take both, I recommend taking the SAT as you have experience from the PSAT. One to two hours a day works, but it really is up to your preference and schedule.

a year ago

As an 11th grader, I'll say you should really start studying around the beginning of 11th grade. A lot of what is on the SAT you will learn during 9th and 10th. I'm going to take my SAT in May and then my ACT in July, and right now because I know I am terrible at math, I like to do about an hour or two every day but I take breaks on Thursdays and Fridays.

You should go on Khan Academy for the SAT prep, if you log into collegeboard, it will use your PSAT scores to create a personalized SAT course for you to take. When it comes to math, I recommend that you really focus on liner equations/inequalities, and graphs, and you should also review 3rd-grade fractions surprisingly.

But remember that you do have time and everything you need for the SAT you'll learn along the way and you shouldn't overwork yourself. 11th grade is further away than you realize, it still feels like just yesterday I was in 8th grade getting this talk from upperclassmen in highschool.

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Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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