As competition increases at the country's best colleges and universities, parents and students alike are searching for new ways to get noticed during the admissions process. A high SAT score comes from plenty of study, but that doesn't mean your 10-year-old should enroll immediately in a weekend prep course. Find out when most students begin studying, what most experts recommend as the youngest age for concentrated study, and how to integrate SAT prep into lifelong learning from any age.
Sophomores and Juniors
Most students begin serious SAT study, such as supplemental classes and courses, as sophomores or juniors. Students who want to maximize their PSAT scores for early admissions will want to begin during their second year of high school, while junior year study is ideal for preparing for the full SAT. This only gives most students between three and six months of study though, and many parents may consider that far too short a time. Of course, young students who attempt a PSAT and score high definitely need only limited months of study before taking the SAT since they're already on the right track with their education.
For the earliest jump on SAT preparation, it's currently considered acceptable to begin taking prep courses as a freshman at 13 or 14. This is particularly helpful for students with learning disabilities or test-taking anxiety so they can slowly and gradually pick up both the skills and material needed for a good score. If you choose to start your child's study this early, make it a limited part of their study for the freshman year. The challenges of adapting to a new high school environment are already a lot for a young teen to handle, so you don't want to overwhelm them.
Middle School Students
Middle school is definitely too early for SAT prep classes, although it's never too early to practice vocabulary-building exercises and find extra math tutoring for your child. Your child needs a certain amount of maturity to benefit from a concentrated study on advanced topics. Even AP classes in middle school don't compare to the focused environment of SAT prep courses, so your child may fall behind or become a disruption to the rest of the students. It's best to wait until a student is at least 13 or 14 before enrolling them in some kind of extracurricular class, aside from study courses designed to help them catch up on certain subjects.