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Why the Summer Before Junior Year is NOT too Early to Start SAT Prep

By Mark Greenstein, Founder and Lead Instructor, Ivy Bound Test Prep, April 2012
Publication permission granted so long as the name and URL are included.

Most parents who have done this with an older child know this; this article is for those who are new to the modern college admissions process (and perhaps a few who didn’t learn from an early mistake). Even for those students who have no need for PSAT prep, the summer is probably the best time to do a chunk of SAT tutoring.

Fall semester of Junior year is typically the most crowded semester she or he has encountered. It's often the most important semester too, as Junior year grades, particularly in electives, weigh more than underclass grades in admissions officers' eyes.

So we STRONGLY urge students to relieve the Junior year pressure by carving out time the summer beforehand.

Two to six weeks of tutoring in the summer before Junior year means the student has minimal with SAT prep during the fall semester. Students build skills that will stay with them. SAT skills, once learned, do not atrophy. By analogy, once a pitcher learns how to throw a curve-ball, it's a skill he will not lose.

So even if waiting until January to take that first real SAT, the summer work is almost certainly helping gin up a gig SAT score.

For some students, those who need to build a much larger vocabulary, summer SAT prep has even more value. Summer gives students the time to read and absorb. Whether reading for pleasure, for an assignment, or for the sake of building words, almost no student is as equipped for word mastery once the school year begins. Plus those who need a better vocabulary for the sake of doing better in their ENGLISH classes can start the year already-empowered.

The books we offer our students give a combination of SAT vocabulary and familiarity with classic novels. Please consider the "Breakthrough books" for the summer before the junior year.

Bottom Line: In all the years Ivy Bound has helped families schedule for the modern college admissions calendar, we have on many occasions heard from parents "we started the process to late". We have NEVER heard a parent say "we started too early".