Settle the Score of SAT Prep with these Tips

college prep

This article is sponsored by Tutor Doctor Frisco-McKinney.

As a recent college graduate, memories of standardized tests, college apps, and registration deadlines are still very fresh in my mind. Scheduling test prep sessions, practice tests and SAT/ACT testing dates was NOT my favorite part of high school.

Parents and students usually feel a little overwhelmed when it comes to standardized testing and college applications. And now, lucky you — thanks to COVID, this year it will be even MORE chaotic and confusing than normal! Hooray!

If you think it’s hard to schedule a dinner date or family event with COVID-19 restrictions, just WAIT until it’s time to schedule your child’s official SAT or ACT test.

Sorry, this wasn’t a very encouraging introduction. But don’t worry, because it’s about to get better.

Tutor Doctor Frisco-McKinney is going to help you navigate the ins-and-outs of COVID-friendly Test Prep! #THANKGOODNESS.

How about a little handholding?

Instead of going completely crazy (or arguing with your teen nonstop) about prep, planning, and scheduling, let the team at Tutor Doctor help you.

I mean, seriously — you’ve already got your student’s incessant texting and social media to monitor, their curfew to enforce, and a MILLION other super important parenting things to do…

And everything is a smidge harder this year. #UNDERSTATEMENT

studying books student

studying books student

Case in point, did your kiddo try to take their SAT or ACT this spring or summer? They were likely met with last minute changes in testing dates, times, and locations, leaving them scrambling to keep up and likely beyond frustrated with the lack of clear direction. Some students even missed the application deadline for their dream school because their SAT or ACT got pushed back three or four times.

Even though the first wave of COVID panic is winding down, colder weather could lead to new spikes in cases across DFW. If your child’s test gets pushed out or cancelled locally due to COVID, Sandy Tutwiler, owner of Tutor Doctor Frisco-McKinney, has a wonderful life-saving tip:

She says that instead of pulling your hair out and frantically searching for a new date, look into scheduling a test in Oklahoma. Yes, seriously, the Sooner State. Hey, it’ll be a fun mini-road trip with your-soon-to-leave-the-nest kiddo. #TWOBIRDSONESTONE

No matter your testing locale, Sandy’s team encourages you to track and record updates about college board registration and testing deadlines. When your child “should” test depends on the deadlines where they’re applying, along with available testing dates in the area.

Ideally, you’ll want to allow as much time as possible in case they need to re-test for a higher score. Deadlines, due dates, and even requirements are constantly changing, but it don’t freak out because…

 Tutor Doctor does the hard work for you! They help test prep clients keep up with updates through personalized plans based on where they’re applying and what tests they need for scholarships and applications.

I probably should have led with that, right? That’s pretty much all you needed to hear. You can now exhale…

Don’t forget the #2 pencils.

#2 pencils, yes. They’re going to need those. But let’s back up.

pencils study school

pencils study schoolWhether your kiddo is back in the classroom or learning from home this semester, you should probably enroll them in a test prep course before they schedule their SAT and ACT. Because here’s what you DON’T want them to do on test day:

“Hmmm…. A, B, C, or D. Well, I haven’t used B in awhile, so I’ll go with that.”

Tutor Doctor offers a variety of virtual and in-person test prep classes to help your student feel confident on testing day.

Sandy recommends starting test prep about six months before the test date. This approach helps reduce stress and gives your student time to work on all subjects covered in the exams. Tutor Doctor also offers more specialized, shorter test prep solutions designed for students who only need help with one section of the exam.

All of Tutor Doctor’s test prep courses come with a comprehensive study guide and access to an online portal where you can track your child’s progress. Prep activities include practice drills and exercises to help increase muscle memory for each portion of the exam. Test prep helps your child strengthen their existing knowledge of test subjects, while also teaching them how to pace themselves and prioritize exam questions for the best results.

Students can attend one-on-one tutoring, but Tutor Doctor also offers personalized group tutoring where students can take the prep program with two or three close friends. Groups can learn virtually or in-person, then parents can split the cost!



Find your own group to ensure everyone gets along, then choose a central meeting spot. These small group sessions are about the same price as large online classes where your student can easily fall behind. You’ll save money and your child will still receive individualized attention from Sandy’s exceptional team.

Tutor Doctor Frisco-McKinney also partnered with other Tutor Doctors around the country to offer FREE virtually-proctored practice tests. #THATISAWESOME

Practice tests benefit both tutor and student by helping tutors:

  • Assess each student’s current abilities
  • Identify ‘focus areas’ where students can improve
  • Monitor progress throughout the test prep course as students prepare for “the real thing”
  • Practice tests also give kids a real taste of what their SAT or ACT will look like, reducing test-day jitters and helping them adequately prepare for each exam.

What can kids do to prepare for tests outside of tutoring?

Sandy offered up some of her top test-taking strategies and tips to help your kiddo prepare for their test outside of class. This is a great checklist to run through with your child as they start thinking about college test prep:

  • Purchase test prep books to help your child better understand and prepare for each section of the tests.
  • Prioritize a functional knowledge of Algebra 2 since both tests cover math through Algebra 2.
  • Practice your reading comprehension skills – reading efficiently for the main points.
  • Take practice tests or portions of practice tests to help with timing strategies.
  • Go over what you miss in practice tests so you can focus on your weak spots. As you’re looking over the pieces you didn’t have time for, try to strategize. Every answer counts the same, so try to avoid sitting on one Q that stumps you.
  • Find out what your 3 top colleges are looking for in terms of scores for admissions, scholarships, and in-state tuition, then set your goals accordingly.
  • Sign up for a test (at least 3-6 months out) and be sure to have scores sent only to you. In case your first test isn’t up to par, it’s easier to send your second score later instead of sending both.
  • Get a good night’s rest the day before the exam. If you’re feeling anxious in the days or hours leading up to the exam, try to do some deep breathing and relax your mind.
  • Eat a good breakfast and wear comfy clothes that aren’t distracting (loose ties, ruffles, things to fidget with).

So, do colleges actually care about test scores?

If you’ve started exploring test prep, and especially if you’re in the middle of it, you’ve probably heard terms like “test optional” or “test flexible.” What does that even mean?? Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as cancelling test plans and applying to college without any scores.

So let’s talk about new testing buzzwords and break down what each one really means when it comes to college admissions:

  • Test Optional means that the SAT/ACT scores are more of a bonus or “nice to have” and the academic record is primary measure for admission.
  • Test Blind means that students don’t need to submit test scores at all for admission. A lot of California schools are doing this, but still using tests for scholarship applications. If you’re looking for scholarships, Sandy recommends including tests scores in your application, even when applying to a “test blind” university.
  • Test Flexible means that a school will accept SAT, ACT, AP Exam, or IB Tests in an attempt to play to strength of the students. They’re still looking for standardized test scores, but the scores they’ll take are in a wider range than they were pre-covid.

The COVID changes are here for fall 2021, but things could change for fall 2022. That’s why it’s important for students, especially those looking at out-of-state schools, to score high on standardized tests. Some universities are exploring staying test flexible since many high schools switched to pass/fail last spring and AP courses became more valuable.

It’s harder and harder to rely on GPA and Class Rank, making standardized testing even more critical. Out of state tuition is expensive, making scholarships even more valuable. Some schools offer in-state tuition to out of state students if their testing scores reach a certain range. GPA and class rank will get you into school, but testing helps with scholarships (Test Flexible model).

Bottom line — tests are a HUGE benefit, especially now.

tutordoctor testpage cropped

tutordoctor testpage croppedIf you’re diving into the world of college admissions, preparing your students for their first SAT/ACT, or looking to help your student improve their scores, Sandy Tutwiler of Tutor Doctor Frisco-McKinney is here to help in Frisco, McKinney, Prosper, Little Elm, and Aubrey! Schedule a free consultation today to get started. #HELPISONTHEWAY