Dispatches from the Test Prep Team: When to Start

So, you have reached the end of your Gao1 year. Congratulations on finishing your first year of high school! Now you have a very important choice to make: spend your summer listlessly enjoying the beautiful days, or spend some of your time investing in yourself and becoming a stronger college applicant by starting your test prep early.

Or you can find a balance and do both. Thinking back to my high school summers, that was when I did a lot of growth. I was able to read what I wanted, go to museums, play basketball, and develop academic interests which eventually led me to my college major choice. The value of having fun is not lost on me, but school admission is becoming more competitive each year. The earlier you begin to prepare the easier you will make your life.

In your rising Gao2 summer is when you want to start your test prep. Time is your greatest asset; please use it wisely.  It is difficult to take a test prep class during the school year. Starting in the summer before your Gao3 year is too late. Plus, if you start your test early, you can address any issues, and it frees up your following summer to do interesting summer programs and projects.

The next question is “where do I start?” You must take the TOEFL and decide between the SAT or ACT. If you are having a hard time deciding, then take a mock test of each and go with the better score. Then stick with one test. Colleges will take either the SAT or ACT. Splitting your efforts between the two will do more harm than good. Lastly, start with tutoring or a class. Classes are a good first step, because they will teach you all the fundamental skills, while tutoring is better for refining those skills. Be wary of classes that try to substitute quantity of teaching for quality of teaching.

And that is it! How to begin your test prep planning. Everyone is different, so it is very important to reach out to Student Educational Services at ESC if you have any questions.