The Top 5 Test Prep Essentials

I can't speak for every tutor, but I know that if you work with me I have certain expectations of you in order to ensure that you will see the greatest possible improvement in your score. Luckily, they are really quite simple, and adhering to them makes a huge difference. I've attached a PDF version to summarize my Top 5 Test Prep Essentials that you can download, but I will review each of them below too. 
For starters, I may be stating the obvious, but you absolutely must complete all homework assignments. All my assignments are tailored to your current performance and designed to help you achieve your goal score. Many students aspire to achieve dramatic improvements, and I fully believe such improvements are possible. BUT, in order to achieve such goals, it is imperative that you complete every homework assignment. If there is a notable gap between your current score and your goal score, that is perfectly ok, but it makes the homework that much more important. Furthermore, the higher your goal, the more homework you should expect, and the more seriously you should take it.
Second, it is extremely important to keep your work organized. One of the defining characteristics of students who improve the most is their determination to master what they do not know. Inevitably, you will get questions wrong as you practice. That’s normal, and, in fact, we will spend a lot of our time going over those very problems. Thus it is very important to keep your notes organized, and to keep track of the problems you miss so that you can come back to them later and test yourself again. That is how you can be sure you are making progress.
Third, make sure you practice regularly. It may be tempting to put your assignments off until the last minute, or to rationalize that you don’t have to be thorough because we will cover them together anyway, but that is not the best way to increase your score. Research in neuroscience has shown that memory works best when practice is spread out over a longer period of time. The same amount of practice divided into a little bit each day outperforms practice crammed into one or two days. Read that again. THE SAME AMOUNT OF PRACTICE has a significantly greater impact in the first scenario than in the second. This is a simple strategy that literally requires no extra time on your part. Take advantage of it.
Fourth, try not to skip lessons. While certain scheduling conflicts can unavoidably arise, if they do, do your best to reschedule so you’re not skipping a week. Sometimes rescheduling isn’t possible, but you can nonetheless still ask for additional assignments. I will happily oblige, and you will benefit by continuing to practice regularly.
Finally, take full-length practice tests at regular intervals and under the same conditions you will have on test day – timed, completing every section, and finishing the test in one sitting. That is the best way to ensure your hard work is paying off and to get ready for the real thing.
If you follow these 5 simple rules, by the time test day rolls around you'll be ready to do your very best. While all your friends are stressed and anxious, you will know exactly what to expect, and you will have built up the endurance to make it through without breaking a sweat. Trust me, you will be very happy you followed these simple rules!


I agree with your article. These are indeed effective rules for an ACT/SAT test prep. A personal tutor can only be deemed as the best that he/she can be if they can urge their students to take their test prepping seriously. Studying with a tutor makes a lot of sense, and this method can be augmented with an online test prep routine. Test Prep Toolkit is a credible and updated online GED/SAT/ACT study guide that can truly be useful for passing these tests with flying colors. Thanks for the very informative and engaging content!


Peter A.

Harvard PhD Student | Expert SAT, ACT, & GRE Tutor

900+ hours
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