So you’ve signed up to take the ACT or SAT. Naturally, the next step is to ask, “How should I prepare for the SAT or ACT?” There is no single answer to this question. Some students charge straight ahead and take matters into their own hands, no SAT tutor, no SAT coach, no ACT tutor, and design their own study programs and learning from internet resources or older siblings and friends. Some students just wing it, no SAT prep or ACT prep at all, leaving their score up to fate.
Clearly, the ACT and SAT are extremely important standardized tests in the college admissions process, which makes contacting your own ACT or SAT test prep counselor now vital to your success. If you want insight into your test scores and could benefit from some outside perspective on test-taking, enrolling in ACT or SAT practice test sessions might be the right move for you.
Is ACT or SAT Counseling Right for You?
Getting an ACT tutor or SAT tutor is very common, and students start ACT or SAT counseling for a variety of reasons. If you agree with most or all of these points, then you should consider getting an ACT tutor or SAT tutor to help out with ACT or SAT prep.
- You need help with core concepts. Both tests measure your abilities in areas of English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. They test knowledge that you should have learned throughout high school, but maybe the subject doesn’t come as easily to you and you’re still shaky on the basics of ACT and SAT test prep, or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve studied the subject and you need a refresher. Either way, it is crucial to get the fundamentals down before taking the test. Consider an ACT or SAT math tutor to improve your number skills and ability to compute under test-taking pressure. An ACT or SAT essay tutor can show you what’s expected in these essays, drill you on the finer points of punctuation, and show you tips and tricks for writing an essay on any subject. Skim reading for the ACT or SAT can be helpful as well for managing time on test. An experienced ACT or SAT test prep tutor knows all this essential information and can teach or review these core concepts with you. They can cover all the bases.
- You don’t know strategy. Although the SAT and ACT are just tests, there are strategies that can give you an edge since the basic format stays the same. A student having time-management problems on the Reading section won’t solve their issue by taking a bunch of practice tests. They need to practice deliberately—applying strategies that save them time and maintain their accuracy. Tutors will have a strategy for this and any situation. The best part is that the strategies they teach you have been proven to work in past students’ success.
- You need structure. Studying is hard—and taking that first step to sit down and start studying is even harder. We all suffer from procrastination, but if your test date is coming up soon, waiting until the last minute won’t cut it. An ACT or SAT counselor will not only give you a structured, personalized plan of what to study each week leading up to your test, but they will also hold you accountable.
- You don’t have time to look for and gather the best resources. There are a huge number of free internet resources that help you study for the SAT and provide tips, tricks, and strategies to do your best. It takes a lot of time, however, to sift through all these resources and decide which ones are worthwhile and which ones are junk. An ACT or SAT counselor will provide quality materials and real practice tests so you know each exercise is relevant and helpful.
- You want someone on your side. Taking the ACT or SAT can be extremely stressful, and many students suffer from anxiety on test day. Your ACT or SAT counselor isn’t only a teacher, but also a friend who can hopefully provide support and encouragement during this nerve-wracking process. They are your personal cheerleader and want to see you succeed! Most counselors have first-hand experience with test anxiety, so they’ll be able to help guide you through it, especially if it’s your first time taking the ACT or SAT.
Where Can I Find an ACT or SAT Counselor?
The next step is to find one! The good news is that standardized testing counseling can be found everywhere. Here are a few places to look:
- Online. Just search “ACT or SAT counseling” or “counseling near me” and there are bound to be multiple test prep services you can check out.
- Ask friends or family. Chances are, you know an older student or have an older cousin that’s taken the ACT or SAT before during their college application process. If they received a good score, they likely had successful study habits that they could pass on to you. Having a friend or family member as an ACT or SAT counselor is also convenient since you are already comfortable with them. If you don’t know anyone who is offering ACT or SAT counseling, asking friends and family if they can recommend counseling places is also helpful.
- Your school guidance counselor or office. Since most high school students applying to college take the ACT or SAT, your school guidance counselor or office can most likely recommend counseling services that past students have used.
There are so many prep options when it comes to ACT or SAT counseling: you might choose group ACT or SAT test prep counseling or private counseling, and even have the option between online or in-person sessions. Depending on your specific learning style, different counselors might be better for you. For instance, online counseling might be the best fit if your schedule is too hectic for regularly scheduled, in-person prep courses. Luckily, if you know what you’re looking for, finding an ACT or SAT counselor to fit those needs shouldn’t be too difficult.
What Should I Look for in an ACT or SAT Counselor?
It can be difficult to sift through the plethora of counseling services, and it can be especially challenging to decide if a place is reputable and not just a scam for money.
- Reviews. This is the most important factor in choosing an ACT or SAT counselor. You want an ACT or SAT counselor who has a stellar track record in getting results and working well with students. The ACT or SAT counselor should have past experience teaching the ACT or SAT, or teaching in general if they’re just starting out. Word-of-mouth interviews are generally more reliable than those found on the internet, but if the online testimonies seem legitimate, its worth giving the ACT or SAT counselor a shot.
- Punctuality and Availability. An ACT or SAT counselor will only be valuable if you can meet with them on a regular basis. An ACT or SAT counselor who cancels at the last minute or constantly reschedules will be wasting precious days to study before your test. Additionally, an ACT or SAT counselor who is never available is simply unhelpful. Make sure that the ACT or SAT counselor’s schedule matches up with your own and that they can make the commitment to helping you prepare for the test.
- Reasonable Pricing. Counseling services can get pricey, with some services charging upwards of $100/hour. It might not be financially feasible for your family to pay these extravagant prices—and more often than not, it’s totally unnecessary. There are excellent counseling services charging reasonable rates, and it’s questionable how much better an ACT or SAT counselor can be when they charge that much money. You shouldn’t have to break the bank to get help on the ACT or SAT.
Once you find a high-rated ACT or SAT counselor who works with your schedule, schedule your first session and begin your ACT or SAT preparation journey! Your ACT or SAT counselor will teach you strategy, review practice tests, and, hopefully, ultimately improve your score.
Private counseling also offers you the flexibility to find someone who is a good fit and can help you reach high scores on the official ACT or SAT exam, so taking the time to find a reliable ACT or SAT counselor who fits your needs is important too.
What Should I Do Before Meeting With an ACT or SAT Counselor?
First, make sure you know if they want you to complete any “homework” before meeting — being unprepared will just waste your time.
If you don’t have any work to complete for your ACT or SAT counselor beforehand, try taking a full length practice test to gauge where you are and find your practice test score. This will give you an idea of where you’re starting and what score you want to reach. Practice questions will also give you a good idea of if you’re struggling in a specific section like English or Mathematics.
ACT or SAT practice tests are super long and can be a big time commitment, but for the ACT or SAT and SAT, practice makes perfect. To see score improvements, you will need to set aside some study time and just practice — it’s the most effective form of test preparation for the ACT or SAT.