Now that we’re almost to summer, let’s talk a little about test-prep. Test preparation should start the summer following your sophomore year of high school. During your junior year, you can prepare during the fall, take your first test in December or January, and re-test in the spring as needed.
Starting SAT preparation later than your sophomore summer is not recommended because it leaves you with less time to study. Of course, you can always choose a later test date, but then, if you need to re-test, you may have to re-test during your senior year. And senior year is busy enough.
All this being said, there is no single “correct” timeline for preparation. Create a schedule that works for you, one that suits your own strengths and studying tendencies. The exact timing of this preparation is up to you, but, just for reference, here are two sample SAT prep timelines, one long and one short:
In addition, consider including a reward system in your preparation plan. Maybe, every night, after 90 minutes of studying you allow yourself one 15-minute snack break. Or you work on a practice test every night from 9 to 11, then reward yourself with The Daily Show. Develop a nightly study ritual–ideally one with some intervals and some incentives–and, most importantly, stick to it every night. Once the routine is set, you will be spending less time deciding what to study and more time doing the actual studying.
And no matter what, always remember: a little bit of studying every day is always better than one frantic week of cramming.