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Test Prep

Fiske’s Build-Your-Own Test-Prep Program Sample Timeline

Information adapted from Fiske Nailing the New SAT.

Strong students are the least likely to benefit from prep courses and the most likely to increase their scores by designing their own prep programs.

The following timeline is merely a sample guideline; you should feel free to make up your own timeline. If you have a break from school around the time of your test date, you can follow a more concentrated schedule. Or, if this pace seems too intense, you can spread out your test prep over 9 to 12 weeks.


Eight Weeks

Total Time: Approximately 45 hours

Full-length practice tests

Time frame: 1–2 weeks

Do two of these on your first weekend, one more on the following weekend if necessary. Get the feel of the test. Diagnose strengths and weaknesses.


Practice each problem type

Time frame:

3–4 weeks, 4–6 sessions per week

Begin 45-minute sessions after your first weekend of practice tests. Develop a strategy for each kind of problem. Experiment with various approaches. Do subject-matter review if necessary. Target areas in need of improvement.


Sections under timed conditions

Time frame:

3–4 weeks, 4–6 sessions per week

Fine-tune your pace on each type of section. Do two sections per session (45–50 minutes total). Accelerate your speed and examine the impact on your accuracy. Experiment with skipping and guessing. Get a feel for the clock.


Whole test under timed conditions

Time frame: 2–3 weekends

Do two to four full-length, timed tests in the last two weekends before the test. Work on staying focused in the last two sections of each test. If overly fatigued or stressed, experiment with resting during the last several minutes of each section rather than checking your work. Learn to pace yourself.