We are often asked this question and the answer depends on the situation. For example, some 9th grade admissions exams (taken in the 8th grade) are extremely challenging and many students get started a year or more in advance of the test date to help ensure a better result.
Meanwhile, some (even high performing) students just don’t do particularly well on standardized exams (for a variety of different reasons). Other students may suffer from significant anxiety. The definitive answer for getting started on preparation really comes down to two major considerations: First, how well is the student currently positioned with respect to the content and difficulty of the exam, and second, how much of a role will the exam play in admissions or, in the case of an academic subject, how desirable, urgent, or important is improvement and/or achieving a better grade.
With regard to admissions, if you are applying to a high school or college that is highly competitive, the entrance exam will of course play a greater role in your application. If you are encountering an especially challenging entrance exam for a highly competitive school, get started with tutoring as early as possible. Cramming in the weeks or couple of months leading up to the exam creates its own set of obstacles, such as generating additional anxiety.
For many students, working over the summer can be especially productive because the pressure and distraction of school don’t interfere with focusing on the work at hand. For admissions exams in the fall, waiting to get started when school is back in session can be disconcerting for some students. Whenever possible we strongly urge students to start preparation in the summer, which helps make subsequent sessions when school is in session go more smoothly.
For students who struggle with significant anxiety, getting started early is imperative. Cramming or not being adequately prepared by test day can make or break a student’s performance. The best way to combat anxiety is for the student to be fully comfortable with all elements of the test, and that takes time and commitment.
That said, if you’re getting a late start our instructors can accelerate tutoring and help you work as efficiently as possible to maximize your time and effort and ensure you achieve your greatest potential. Please contact Next Level Learning to speak with an educational consultant for help planning next steps.