A few dozen times each year, a parent emails us asking, “When should my child start preparing for the SAT?” Or occasionally, a freshman worrying about their first experience taking final exams will ask, “When should I start studying?” Or a student might ask us in March when they should start reviewing for their AP tests. Or a rising senior might ask us in July when they should start working on their college essay.
To all these questions, our answer is always the same:
We’re only half-joking. We’re just trying to give you permission to start earlier than you otherwise might.
If most students start studying for the test two nights before, you’ll do better if you start earlier. You can start studying for next May’s AP tests this summer by previewing next year’s content. You can start preparing for your final exams during the first week of school by doing a little more than what is asked of you. You can review throughout the year because you understand that the brain is a “use it or lose it” organ and spaced repetition forms lasting memories. And you don’t have to wait for the test to be announced before you can begin studying because the test is always coming.
Now, I’m not suggesting you go sign up your third-grader for SAT prep. I’m suggesting that, if you’re thinking it might be time to start, it probably is.
Chris Loper has been working as a tutor and academic coach since 2014, racking up over 10,000 hours of experience supporting students.
Along with Greg Smith, Chris is the cocreator of Parenting for Academic Success (and Parental Sanity) – a five-part course offered every summer.
Chris’s most recent endeavor combines his academic and habit-formation expertise to help students thrive in college. Visit SmartCollegeHabits.com to learn more.
In 2021, he published a humorous memoir titled Wood Floats and Other Brilliant Observations, a book that blends crazy stories with practical life lessons, available on Amazon and through most local bookstores.
He lives in Issaquah, WA where he is the owner of South Cove Tutoring.