Start Early

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:

“Yesterday.”

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.  

And this is especially important if you’re concerned about test anxiety. Remember, true confidence comes from self-efficacy. If you’re well prepared, you’ll feel more confident.

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.

About the Author

Chris Loper has been an academic coach for Northwest Educational Services since 2014. He also writes the popular self-improvement blog Becoming Better, so if you liked this article, head on over to becomingbetter.org and check out his other work. Chris also offers behavioral change coachinghelping busy adults with habit formation and productivity. He lives in Seattle, WA.

Share this: