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The ACT is a significant milestone for many aspiring college students, as the scores your child achieves can greatly influence their college admissions prospects. While preparing for the exam may seem daunting, creating a timeline can help your child navigate test prep, the exam, and the college admissions process with ease. Breaking goals into smaller, achievable milestones, like incremental score improvements on practice tests, can make ACT prep more approachable.

ACT prep courses are an excellent way to ensure your child is ready to excel on test day. Although there are various ways to prepare for the ACT, enrolling your child in an ACT test prep program can provide the extra edge they need to succeed.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for the ACT®?

While many schools include ACT prep courses in their curriculum, your child will be studying alongside an entire class of students. These sessions can serve as a solid foundation for exam prep, but instructors often have limited time to dedicate to each student. Supplementing these classes with individualized support through an ACT prep program offers your child the opportunity for one-on-one assistance.

ACT prep with a tutor may offer more flexibility regarding when and where your child can study. However, this approach often lacks options for real-time clarification and structure. They might not receive answers to their questions immediately or understand where they went wrong in problem-solving. Plus, it’s challenging to mimic test-day conditions when they’re learning at their own pace.

Customized ACT prep courses, led by subject matter experts, provide structured study sessions, helping your child pinpoint areas for improvement. They can develop the skills, knowledge, and strategies needed to excel. This tailored approach can boost your child’s confidence, ensuring they feel well-prepared on test day.

Benefits of Enrolling in an ACT Prep Program

Studies show that students who join ACT prep programs score higher than those who study solo. These structured sessions provide a focused study space and set times for ACT prep, helping your child zero in on what truly matters.

These programs will get your child comfortable with the test format, the types of questions asked, and the testing conditions they’ll face on exam day. Plus, they’ll pick up invaluable test-taking strategies to tackle tricky questions with confidence.

ACT prep programs allow your child to learn at their own pace while keeping them on track to reach their score goals. Consider having your child take a practice test before the first session to establish a baseline score and identify their strengths and areas for improvement. This will help their tutor tailor the sessions for maximum impact.

These programs can also instill solid study habits that will serve your child well in higher education and beyond.

How Long Does It Take to Prepare for the ACT?

ACT test prep programs come in all shapes and sizes. Luckily, there are plenty of options to help your child get ready for this important test.

Timeline with an Intensive ACT Prep Program

Intensive test prep programs like our ACT Bootcamp tackle a lot of material in a short time, making them perfect for families looking for an efficient study solution. These programs require a greater time commitment but allow your child to complete formal prep in just five to eight weeks.

For motivated students, intensive ACT prep during school breaks can be an excellent opportunity. With fewer distractions, focusing on ACT preparation becomes much easier. Juggling class, homework, midterms, extracurriculars, and ACT prep can be overwhelming, so why not take advantage of the break?

A condensed prep program is a fantastic way to boost your child’s scores over the summer, positioning them for success early in their junior or senior year.

Timeline for General ACT Prep Programs

Non-intensive programs offer your child the luxury of ample preparation time for the ACT. Imagine enrolling them in a prep course spread over one or two semesters—perfect for those who prefer to digest the material at a leisurely pace.

This approach is beloved by students balancing their school year commitments with ACT prep, but who still want to excel. Sessions, lasting up to two hours, can be scheduled several times a week as the exam date approaches. This steady, manageable progression allows your child to consistently improve their practice test scores while keeping up with their schoolwork.

When Should My Child Start Preparing for the ACT?

Starting ACT prep early is usually a smart move, but the timing can hinge on your child’s test schedule. If they take the exam in the fall of their junior year, they’ll have ample opportunities to retake it for a better score. Think of it as giving them a head start on success.

Freshman Year

Some might believe freshman year is too early to start thinking about the ACT, but that’s far from the truth! In fact, some students opt to take the exam during freshman year to gain experience and get comfortable with the process.

Starting ACT prep courses now can give your child a significant head start when test time arrives. While limited knowledge of the material might make the program more challenging initially, beginning early gives them ample time to adapt to the test format and content.

Preparing for the ACT as a freshman also allows your child to create a long-term plan for their future. They might already have a dream school in mind, and if they intend to apply through early admission, they’ll need to take the test sooner than some of their peers.

Sophomore Year

If your child decides to start studying for the ACT as a sophomore, they’ll have a solid foundation and a firmer grasp of the necessary skills for the exam. While it’s common for students to take the test in their junior or senior year, your child might feel a bit ahead of their peers in the prep program, but that’s perfectly fine.

Starting ACT tutoring in the sophomore year provides ample time to prepare for the test the following year. Consider an intensive program over the summer after sophomore year, which can boost their confidence for the exam either shortly after the program or early in the fall.

This approach also frees up more time for them to concentrate on college applications later.

Junior Year

By the time your child steps into junior year, they’ll have tackled most of the core coursework featured on the exam. They’ll be well-prepared from a curriculum standpoint, building a strong foundation for the test.

Junior year, though, is often a whirlwind for students. Balancing ACT test prep with schoolwork, extracurriculars, and college application prep can feel like a juggling act. Plus, starting to study in junior year means less time for retakes if their initial score doesn’t hit the mark.

Senior Year

Starting ACT prep during senior year can put your student at a disadvantage compared to many of their peers. The Common App opens on August 1, so a lot of students will be submitting college applications and scholarship requests before senior year even kicks off. Depending on the specifics, your child might miss out on early admission opportunities.

While technically, senior year isn’t too late to start studying, it does leave less time for test retakes if scores need improvement. Remember, the earlier they begin, the more time they’ll have to familiarize themselves with the material, hone their test-taking strategies, get comfortable with the exam format, and ultimately ace the ACT. Let’s give them the best shot at success!

Next Steps

At C2 Education, we’re dedicated to helping students achieve their goals. If your child needs assistance with ACT test prep, general tutoring, or navigating the college admissions process, we’re here to help!

Contact us today to get your child on the path to success!