Summer SAT/ACT: To Study, or Not to Study?

Adam Vasserman ’21

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During the summer, when Ramaz students aren’t getting stuck in elevators or polishing of the school’s renowned chocolate-chip cookies, they are scattered throughout locations as close as Saba’s on the Upper East Side and as far away as New Zealand. For rising Juniors and Seniors, in addition to all the diverse adventures and opportunities Ramaz students explore during the summer, there tends to be one thought hovering above the rest…the SAT or ACT. Since the beginning of high school, it is drilled into students’ heads that the SAT and ACT hold the keys to the college of one’s choice, and finally being in the midst of the dark cloud that is studying for these tests brings on a new level of discomfort. Eventually, during their junior and senior years, students across the country spend countless hours, days, months, and sometimes years preparing for these exams. Regardless of which test one takes, the approach to studying is fairly similar. Both tests are administered as early as late August (before junior year), have countless preparation books available, require a freshening up of grammar skills, and become much easier after extensive dedication and studying.

Summer is a great time to begin, and potentially finish, preparing for either test. Summer studying doesn’t necessarily need to be done 24/7, but reviewing some material or even taking a diagnostic test is a good way to start, depending on how soon one plans to take the test. This summer, I took an economics course at Columbia, worked as a lifeguard, spent time with friends, and enjoyed a family trip to Costa Rica, in addition to fitting in study time. Along with many of my peers, I felt that summer was a convenient time to break ground in preparation for the big test, as it’s a time free of the stress of school and extracurriculars. I had the freedom to pick a time of day that I felt was productive to study instead of being constrained by the daily routine of class and test schedules throughout the year. My summer study experience consisted of going through my two books and taking the occasional practice test.

Many of this year’s juniors were highly in favor of summer studying in order to alleviate pressure from junior year, “I want to get as much done as possible before school starts so I can enjoy junior year,” wrote David Gerber ’21. It’s a chance to “start earlier and get ahead rather than being confused about how to balance things during the year,” said Emily Mulakandov ’21.

Several members of the junior class shared strategies they used over the summer to maximize their studying. To combat the stress of studying for the SAT/ACT, I found it comforting to designate specific study times to minimize procrastination. Having an organized study schedule in place helped me study as much as possible. Also, “it’s important to pace yourself and take breaks when you feel you are doing well so you don’t get too burnt out,” said Lauren Lepor ’21. When studying, it’s also important to target your weakest areas. “I have never had any trouble with math sections on standardized tests, unlike English sections, and my practice tests reflect that,” said one student, “and for that reason, I generally focus on reading and writing when I meet with my tutor.” As for choosing which test to take, it depends on individual preference. One student shared “I’m taking the ACT, and after taking it cold, I didn’t even bother trying the SAT since I had

done pretty well for my first time. I’m also a math and science kid, and the ACT includes both of those aspects.” When it comes to finally taking the ACT and SAT, it’s in one’s best interest to do what feels most comfortable. Personally, I felt studying during the summer put me on the right trajectory to achieve some of my goals and cover a significant amount of material. I am confident that this was a great decision because I now feel much better about the test process entering September than I did at the end of June.