Many of you will be finished with your high school standardized testing after tomorrow – congratulations!
As an independent provider of SAT preparation services, I work with many families throughout their preparation processes, working from PSAT all the way to the SAT of senior fall. But I also frequently pick up students who have already done preparation with other providers. I want to help parents and students understand what to expect the second time through the test preparation process.
Many students see their greatest gains at the beginning of the preparation process. At this time, students learn the general test strategy: how the questions work, which questions to answer, when to guess, etc. These strategy based gains will often amount to about 100-150 points, and will come during the first 4-6 hours of tutoring. But after that, score gains often slow down or even plateau, sometime for a few weeks at a time. Now, the gains not not strategy but from content mastery. These latter gains are more difficult to achieve.
So, if you have already done a quality, 10-12 week SAT preparation program and improved by 220 points, it is not the case that you will be able to pick up another 220 points in another 10-12 weeks. In fact, if you pick up a 120 points the second time through, you are probably doing well.
Often, students go for a second round of SAT preparation in the late summer and early fall of senior year. At this time, students should identify specific sections and topics of weakness and aim to pick up 50-70 points on one or maybe two sections of the test. For example, if you have a 650 in math, you should go for a 700-720, but you will have fight for it. The gains won’t be easy to come by because they will be based strictly on content mastery. But if you do go up to 700, you have done a really good job.
I stated earlier that the previous program should be a “quality” program. I say that because there are a lot of good SAT tutoring options – in many prices, too – in this region, and most families find someone who is at least pretty good. But if you have gotten unlucky and worked with someone who is underprepared, then you may very well see big gains the second time through; the first person, unfortunately, didn’t really know the tutoring game.
Otherwise, be prepared to grind out the points, the second (or third) time through. You’ve already gotten all the easy points, and you will have to work hard to get more. It can absolutely be done, though.