Making the Most of the August SAT with ADHD


This year for the first time the College Board will be offering an SAT test date over the summer. The August SAT presents a very appealing option for teens with ADHD who feel too busy or overwhelmed during the school year to tackle SAT test prep. In addition, the August SAT gives seniors the opportunity to take the test twice, once in August and once in October, before having to shift gears and focus on writing college application. For juniors, taking the SAT in August can alleviate some of pressure they will fell during what is typically the most academically rigorous year of high school.

With these benefits, it can seem like a no brainer to take the SAT in August instead of during the school year, especially when you have ADHD. But before you jump online to register, consider some unique challenges that come with taking the test over the summer when ADHD is in the mix:

  • There is such a thing as too much free time! The biggest challenge is that the same free time that makes it more feasible to study for the SAT over the summer also makes it more difficult to stick to a study plan. Children, teens, and adults with ADHD thrive on structure. So, without the structure of school and extracurricular activities, it can be hard to start tasks and get things completed efficiently and effectively when you have ADHD.
  • Studying during the summer? Getting motivated to study is hard enough during the school year when you have ADHD. Over the summer, when free time has typically been spent relaxing and recharging, mustering up the motivation to study is especially hard.

Even with these challenges, most students with ADHD will benefit from taking the SAT over the summer rather than during the school year. The trick is anticipating the challenges and creating a plan that will help you to be successful right from the start. So, what are some steps you can take to make the August SAT work for you?

  1. Create structure. Create and commit to a structured test prep plan. SAT test prep programs provided by tutoring centers provide built-in structure and accountability, and are a great fit when you have ADHD. With any test prep plan, whether it’s one that you create, or one provided by a tutoring center, there will be an at-home study component. Schedule study time blocks in advance, and set mini goals for each study session. Write these goals down and check off your progress along the way.
  2. Strengthen your motivation. Help yourself stay motivated on a day-to-day basis by coming up with activities that you can “earn” by sticking with your study plan. It can be simple things, like committing to going to the pool or hanging out with friends only after you’ve first met study goals for the day. Or it can be something bigger, buying tickets to a concert once you’ve met your study goals for two weeks in a row.
  3. Plan ahead and create consistency. In order to reach your full potential and get your highest possible score on the SAT you will need consistency in your summer schedule. This means avoiding long breaks (more than a few days) from studying, especially in August. Talk to your family about scheduling vacations earlier in the summer rather than closer to your SAT test date. If you have a summer job, talk to your employer about creating a relatively consistent schedule each week and working fewer hours the week prior to the SAT.
  4. Don’t go it alone. Everyone needs support when they are working toward a long term goal like studying for the SAT. This is especially true when you have ADHD. Ask for help from a tutor, sibling, parent, or friend who can help you stay accountable and stick to your plan. Check in with this person every week and review the progress you’re making toward your goals.

The August SAT presents a real opportunity to get a jump start on taking the SAT before the demands of the school year become overwhelming. With a little planning and support you can make the summer SAT work for you!


Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.


Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit

This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.

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