A recent article in US News and World Report urges high school juniors to create a "test prep timeline" for the SAT and/or ACT. That's good advice. Choosing and committing to test dates, and then prepping during the weeks or months leading to those dates, is the right course of action. But what does "prepping" entail?
In SAT Bootcamp, we get down to details: be a detective with previous test results and figure out what you really need to work on. Then, review content as needed, practice using the College Board's Official Guide, review the results of your practice sessions, and make sure you know your Bootcamp strategies.
The US News article suggests taking full-length practice tests, but fails to mention where you might find them. There are plenty of websites with free tests that don't mimic actual SATs, just as there are books from some well-known educational publishers that offer "SAT-like" tests--all poor choices for practice. And what about learning from your mistakes? Taking a number of practice tests without analyzing your results is a waste of time, unless the only reason you're taking them is to figure out if you can get to all of the questions in the allotted amount of time.
For students with test anxiety, taking a full length practice test during the week before the actual SAT could be disastrous. You don't need a painful memory at that critical time. A few practice sections--yes! A review of strategies--yes! Taking care of yourself--yes! Taking a 3 3/4 hour practice test without reviewing your answers--no!
US News has once again served up some seriously bad advice.