Huntington Learning Center Offers Advice for Effective SAT/ACT Prep

By Huntington Learning Center

It’s that time of year when many college-bound students are taking or re-taking the SAT and ACT. Co-Founder Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center says that the best way for students to prepare for college entrance exams is through plenty of practice. “It is true that keeping up with school work inherently helps students acquire the knowledge that they need to perform on college entrance exams, but there is no substitute for regular, thorough studying of the types of questions they will see on these tests,” says Huntington.

She suggests that parents think about the following as they and their teens develop a summer study schedule that will yield positive results:

Learn the ins and outs of each exam. Teens should get to know the format and details of the exam they decide to take. It’s essential to understand what is expected on the test, the time limit for each section, the number of questions, and other basic information. This can help steer teens toward one exam over the other. Some of the major distinctions that could also impact a test-taker’s decision between the exams:

  • The ACT has a Science Test that tests critical thinking skills (while the SAT does not).
  • The SAT has one more reading passage than the ACT.
  • The SAT has some math questions that must be answered without the use of a calculator (the ACT allows the use of a calculator for all math questions).

Take a diagnostic evaluation. A teen’s very first step to devising an effective SAT/ACT prep plan should be taking an initial test to determine his or her strengths and weaknesses. Study sessions will be far more effective when teens know exactly what to study and where they need to improve. A full-length diagnostic test gives a baseline so that teens can identify areas to focus on (and measure their progress).

Create a schedule. Teens will be more effective in their study approach if they create a schedule with milestones. The schedule should dedicate the appropriate amount of time to each subject and specific section of the exam, targeting weaker areas and considering teens’ strengths. Certainly, a teen’s specific test score goals (possibly driven by his or her target college or university) and the gap between the diagnostic test score and “goal” test score will impact the amount of study time needed.

Cover all the elements. Yes, the SAT and ACT require subject-matter knowledge—this should be the foremost area of focus in a teen’s study plan. However, the best study plan should cover several other areas as well:

  • Practice exams – Teens should take at least two full-length, timed practice tests that simulate the actual test environment.
  • Speed work – There are a lot of questions on the SAT and ACT to answer in a short timeframe. It’s important to work on improving one’s speed without sacrificing accuracy.
  • Stress management – There’s no getting around the fact that the SAT and ACT can cause teens anxiety because of the impact that the exams can have on their future. It’s important that teens learn how to manage any stress and are able to employ relaxation techniques as needed.

Plan ahead for a retake. Many teens take the SAT or ACT a few times to attain their best score. Summer before junior year is a good time to prepare for the SAT or ACT.  In doing so, keep in mind that many colleges have application deadlines as early as January 1.   The SAT is offered seven times per year and includes a summer test in August, and ACT is offered six times per year, with the first test of the school year occurring in September. It’s wise to put the best foot forward by adhering to a study plan and schedule because planning ahead for specific test dates is key.

Huntington invites parents and teens who are unsure where to begin to call Huntington Learning Center at 1-800-CAN-LEARN. “We understand that few parents and teens know the best way to study for the SAT or ACT, or how close together those study sessions should be—and those sorts of details,” Huntington says. “We’re adept at assessing students’ abilities, developing targeted programs to help them achieve their goals, and helping students do well on these tests.”

Learn more about Huntington’s premier, 32-hour and 14-hour SAT and ACT prep programs and the Huntington test prep approach at

About Huntington

Huntington 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 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.  Learn how Huntington can help at For franchise opportunities please visit  

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