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The Zinc Blog

So… You Haven’t Started Test Prep Yet?

Here’s Where to Begin

There’s no one right way to get ready for the SAT or ACT, and every student’s timeline looks different. If your New Year’s resolution involves getting started, we’ve got three things to keep in mind to make the process effective, sane, and yes—enjoyable!

  1. Diagnose and Study Strategically:
    Poring over endless practice tests is going to get boring fast—and it’s not an effective way to get scores moving. Take a diagnostic and use your results to figure out what you really need to work on. You’re going to have a lot more fun (and your brain will work better) if your prep is tailored to your needs.

    At Zinc, we think of test prep in terms of two main buckets: Content and Method. Content refers to what’s actually on the test. Did you miss questions because they tested concepts you genuinely don’t remember or didn’t quite grasp the first time around? Most of us have some gaps in our knowledge. Look closely at the questions you’re missing and make a list of the topics you need to target. 

    Method has to do with how you’re using your brain as you move through the test. If you missed questions because you didn’t read them correctly, or you had issues with timing, developing your test-taking method with a tutor or in a class can make a big difference. Keep in mind that for the vast majority of students, focusing on both content and method is the best gameplan for standout scores. 
  1. Make a Realistic, Non-Frantic Timeline:
    A lot of students will test in the spring of junior year and again in the fall of senior year. But this timeline isn’t set in stone. If you’re a junior, you’ve got till October or November 2022 to test, depending on where you’re applying and whether you’re going for early decision/early action.

    Don’t feel pressured to take the test in February or March if you’re not ready. You’ll want to give yourself enough time to take it twice, but there’s no need to scramble to cram everything in two weeks. Taking the test in the summer and again in fall is a perfectly valid option.

    Here’s our flyer with SAT/ACT dates for this school year to help you plan. (Next fall’s official dates haven’t been released yet, but this schedule will give you a good idea of what to expect.)
  1. Find Prep That Works for You:
    Consider your schedule, testing timeline, and learning style. For many students, a combination of self-study, one-on-one tutoring, and classes works well. 

    For a deep dive, check out our summer SAT/ACT Boot Camps. These one- or two-week group sessions keep you energized as you sprint through a ton of material in a short amount of time. They’re a great way to stay on track for a fall test date. If you’re looking to hone in on a specific subject area, Zinc offers seasonal classes that target particular test sections like math or grammar. This spring we’re offering Advanced Math Foundations, a four-part series that helps students tackle math more successfully in school and on the tests.

    We also offer one-on-one tutoring. This option is going to be the most tailored to each student’s needs, providing targeted method coaching and a deep dive into any content areas that need a refresh. Zinc tutoring also focuses on raising reading levels, the key to achieving top scores.

    Want to get in some studying on your own? Our tutors recommend The College Panda’s ACT math and SAT math workbooks and The Critical Reader’s SAT Grammar and ACT English books.


At Zinc, test prep is an opportunity to develop self-knowledge, backfill gaps in content, and build confidence. We know that when done right, the process is a platform for meaningful growth that lasts long after test day. Sign up for our mailing list to stay up-to-date about our spring programs, or send us an email to set up a complimentary consultation. We’ll help you set up a timeline and get started on your test prep plan.

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