SAT Prep FAQs: What Classes Do I Need to Take Before the SAT or ACT?

You may think that a prerequisite course is a course that you need to take right before an exam such as the ACT or SAT.  However, prerequisite courses for the SAT and ACT begin in junior high school/middle school if your goal is to attend a four year college program.

Some of the most important courses you can focus on are your reading and vocabulary classes. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the average teen spends almost eight unproductive hours a day distracted by text messages, television, web surfing, Facebook, video games, and iPod usage.  In fact the percentage of teens who read absolutely nothing has risen from 8% in the 1970’s to almost 25% today!

The SAT especially requires students to know difficult vocabulary in context to understand and dissect very sophisticated reading passages and to answer implicit questions that require a deep knowledge of synonyms.  Furthermore, the typical critical reading section on the SAT forces students to answer approximately 25 these questions in only 25 minutes.  Therefore proper SAT preparation is critical to get students to manage their time better by turning off these electronic devices (maybe down to 3-4 hours a day) and start picking up books, magazines, ebooks, and other written materials that interest the student.

It would also be an excellent idea to start a vocabulary journal as early as possible.  Although the ACT reading questions are generally easier, there is even more of a tight time constraint when taking the ACT over the SAT.  Regardless of which test you take, a student would be well served by practice reading and knowing a copious amount of contextual vocabulary.

While the reading section of the SAT/ACT take the longest to put into place, basic math skills are necessary to prepare for these word-problem-rich exams.  Most of the math on the SAT requires a student to complete Geometry and Algebra 1, although there are a few questions on the SAT that are covered in Algebra 2. We can usually supplement the student’s knowledge of these few concepts.

The ACT covers a few more of these Algebra 2 concepts and even a bit of Trigonometry. Thus, create a plan that gets a student through Algebra 1 in 8th Grade, Geometry in 9th Grade, and Algebra 2 during sophomore year of high school.

Finally, the grammar rules taught in high school are very difficult for students to wrap their heads around.  SAT Preparation Group has simplified all of the grammar rules for the SAT/ACT down to about 13 easy to understand guidelines. Neverless, the time to practice writing SAT essays should be early and often.

I spent 2 years teaching high school math and physics from 2000-2002, and I know what goes on in the classroom.  Homework copying, cheating on tests, fudging on assignments to make it look like something got done when it really didn’t.   Now not all students are like this but every time I gave a test or a quiz I had to sit and stare at the class to make certain minimal shenanigans were going on.  You can’t cheat your way to doing well on the SAT or ACT.  That is why it is vitally important that your students begin doing their homework assignments as thoroughly as possible so they understand the attention to detail aspects that are so crucial to doing well on the SAT/ACT.

Know where you stand in your studies today by taking our FREE SAT or ACT Diagnostics Test!  Let us know if you have any questions or concerns by contacting us here!


Steve Kirshenbaum, M.S. is an Educational Consultant and Founder of SAT Preparation Group, which specializes in worldwide ACT / SAT coaching. SAT Preparation Group advises in test prep, college planning, and success strategies for teens. SAT Preparation Group can be reached at 877-672-8773 or

SAT Preparation Group advises in test prep, college planning, and success strategies for teens. Call Us Today at 877-672-8773 or click here for a free consultation.

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