These are general scheduling suggestions. Truly good scheduling is done with the individual’s schedule in mind, but here are some general principles for studying for and taking the ACT.
Most kids have less academic work in the summer; for this reason, summer tends to be the best time for ACT preparation. Since the ACT is largely a test of skills, rather than memorization, even a two month hiatus between July ACT Prep classes and a September test date should show no diminution.
To prevent against diminution, indeed to enhance abilities between the end of summer classes and the fall ACT, we suggest a study regime of 2 – 4 hours during each week when classes are not in session. Ivy Bound holds Practice Tests and Review sessions from August to December, letting summer students prime themselves for the Sept, Oct, or December ACTs. Each student is invited to take advantage of these Review sessions in any Ivy Bound location or online.
We have one strong piece of advice: START EARLY. Colleges do not penalize an applicant for taking the ACT multiple times. The ACT is not a test that rewards skills acquired only in senior year. The only academic background needed to take advantage of the Ivy Bound course is a semester each of Algebra I and Geometry*. Since most students have this by 10th grade, there is nothing wrong with starting ACT prep in 10th grade and even taking the ACT in April or June of 10th grade. We like to see kids sitting on solid ACT scores by winter of Junior year. That frees them to concentrate on their academics in junior spring and senior year. It also frees them to take the courses they really want to, participate in the extra-curricular activities they might be tempted to forgo if ACT is still an issue. It just may allow the kids to have FUN, which we’re in favor of too.
All other things being equal, prep for the ACT when you have the most time. If summer is not opportune, avoid ACT prep in the same semester as playing a varsity sport.
ACT prep can coincide with SAT Prep and even with SAT Subject Test Prep. Generally, we prefer to wind down ACT/SAT Prep once school gets heavy in the fall, and to do SAT Subject Test prep 1 – 3 months before the December Test date or the May test date. On SAT Subject Tests that require lots of memorization, May is usually better, because the student has to review for finals anyhow. Thus we like seeing students scheduling SAT Subject Tests for May and June and/or for November and December. A student not trouncing the test in one of the first two tries, still has at least one other occasion to take the same test again. SATs and SAT Subject Tests share the same dates with each other, but never conflict with ACT dates.
*Studying trigonometry prior to starting Ivy Bound is nice, but our tutors give students the needed ACT trigonometry in two sessions together. So again, a semester each of Algebra and Geometry is a good math launching pad.