Is Summer a Good Time for Test Prep?

Recently I’ve gotten many requests for summer test prep. On one hand, students have more time to study, but it isn’t always a good plan. 

More Time

I can’t argue with the benefit of studying when students don’t have the distractions of their regular course load and school-year activities. For some students, summer is the only time they feel they can focus their efforts to study for the ACT or SAT. 

However, more time doesn’t always mean better studying. 

We’ve all heard the old adage— if you want something done, ask a busy person. Summer can provide too much time and not enough structure. I’ve had more trouble with students failing to complete test prep homework during the summer than during the school year. They are out of their routines and presented with more opportunities to go out of town for a few days, visit with family and friends, and pursue hobbies. Sometime test prep takes a backseat. 

If you are like me, you expect the summer to be filled with unscheduled time— perfect for test prep. But if I sit down to block out family vacation, summer camps, extracurricular obligations, college visits, and the pre-school year activities, suddenly we have less time for test prep. 

Schedule Issues

I stopped offering group classes during June and July because I had too many absences. The last minute trip to the beach or lake, unexpected opportunities to catch up with friends and family, or the forgotten session added up to the typical student missing 15-30% of my class. 

Now I teach private group classes during the summer. Because each group coordinates schedules ahead of time, I have fewer absences. I’m also open to rescheduling my private tutoring students or groups, something I can’t really do with a large class. 

Retaining Progress

One of the big challenges with summer test prep is retaining the progress made until the actual exam. Thankfully we have the July ACT (July 13) and the August SAT (Aug 24). However not all families begin the test prep process with test in mind. 

Each summer my biggest challenge is working with students who plan to take the October tests. If we study in June or July, each student should ideally keep working to maintain the knowledge and skills we’ve developed. But in some cases that means three months of practice and most students simply don’t keep up with the work. 

Preparing to take the SAT or ACT is a lot like preparing for other performance-based activities. You wouldn’t practice for a dance or piano recital or a playoff game— getting everything just right— then wait three extra months to perform. But that’s what happens when students study for these exams over the summer only to take the actual test in the fall. 


Is summer a good time to study for the ACT or SAT? It can be. 

Here are my suggestions if you want to undertake summer test prep:

  • Always start any test prep by deciding which exam and which exam date you will target. 
  • If there will be a gap of more than a couple weeks between the end of your test prep and your exam date, make sure you have a realistic plan in place to maintain the gains you worked so hard to make. 
  • Set realistic expectations. It is hard enough to do ACT / SAT homework, but trying to do homework in a hotel room or rental house when everyone else is having fun is even harder. Try to plan around all trips and houseguests. Coordinate with camp and work schedules. Be clear on how much homework is expected per week. 

Summer can be a good time to prepare for standardized tests if you plan ahead. 

I will resume my traditional group classes at the end of summer:

  • SAT: Sundays, 4-6 pm, Aug 11 – Sept 29
  • ACT: Sundays, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Sept 8 – Oct 20

If you want to prepare over the summer, I have a couple options:

  1. Individual private tutoring — we work on your individual needs and meet on a schedule designed for you.
  2. Private groups — you make the group and I teach on an agreed upon schedule. 

One to one tutoring is the most expensive option because you are not splitting the cost of my time with a group. If you put together a group of 7 or 8, your cost is only a little more than what you would pay for a big group class. For more details:

If you are interested in scheduling private lessons over the summer, send me an email.

ACT prep, SAT prep, summer, test prep

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