1. Not all tests are equal! The first thing that you should know is that there is an alternative to the SAT called the ACT. Back when I went to college (when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth) the ACT was commonly taken only in the Midwest, and accepted primarily by Midwest colleges and universities. But now all colleges accept either the SAT or the ACT. The ACT has four subject areas: English, Math, Reading and Science. The ACT Plus Writing includes a 30 minute Essay, and most colleges will require that if you choose to take the ACT. The ACT is offered five times a year: October, December, February, April and June. But the February test does NOT offer the Essay section. Another big difference between the SAT and ACT is that the SAT has negative marking (.25 points) for questions that the students get wrong.
2. Who moved my SAT? Well, no one yet, but there are many changes to the SAT test coming in Spring of 2016. Read http://nyti.ms/1iTYPOP for more on that. This blog post focuses on preparation for the current SAT.
3. Who is Xiggi? Xiggi was a kid who got a perfect 2400 on the SAT some years back and he wrote a short piece on how he recommends studying for the SAT. I found it very useful for my own SAT coaching, and think that it is the first thing a student should read: http://bit.ly/1qKOZ2O . For a parent perspective on supporting a student through the SAT, I would recommend ‘The Perfect Score Project’ by Debbie Stier.
4. Timing is everything! While the SAT is offered six times a year internationally, you need to decide the best times for you depending on your internal school exam schedule. I say ‘times’ as most students will take the test more than once to improve scores. Almost EVERY college in the US will accept your highest scores in different sections in different sittings. It for this reason that you should plan for two test dates, in case you do not hit your ‘target range’ the first time you take it. SAT is offered internationally in January, May, June, October, November and December. Many of my students have final exams in May and June of 11th Grade, and mid-term exams in November. These rule out May, June and December. Since you should try to complete your SAT tests as early as possible, and certainly before 12th grade begins, October or November of the 11th grade seem like the best dates for a first try. And January for a second try, if needed.