Tips From An Irvine Test Prep Tutor: SAT and AP Exam Survival Guide

Although it’s generally not recommended that students take the SAT and AP exams in the same month, some students will be tempted to take on this amount of study – book your private Orange County test prep tutor early. Unfortunately, the majority of students will find that they lose points on one exam or another.


Regardless, students who have already committed to taking both the SAT and AP exams this May should look at ways they can optimize their study time to give themselves the best chance of success this spring.

1. Pay extra attention to the essay

The majority of AP students will be writing an essay of one kind or another; SAT students will also be writing an essay. Although the essays are not structured in the same format, extra practice on either can help students improve on both. College prep students are advised to speak with their tutor about the primary differences between writing an AP exam essay in their particular subject and writing an SAT essay. Students should write a check list to keep the two essay types separate and remember to review that list a day or two before the exam (READ: “AP Classes for Seniors: Avoiding Common Mistakes”).

2. Process of elimination

Both tests require the effective use of process of elimination. Students who are studying for both tests can essentially kill two birds with one stone by learning this popular test prep concept. Students should spend extra time on this with their tutor during spring sessions and should ask their private Orange County academic tutor to watch them implement their process of elimination technique. This allows tutors to learn how their students eliminate answers, which answer choices they get rid of, how quickly or slowly they make a decision, and which types of questions they are repeatedly getting wrong. Correct usage of process of elimination is essential to both exams (READ: Ask a Nerd! “Grades and AP Class”).

3. Down time

Students who take both exams in May might become overly pressured and tempted to cram. Cramming is never a good idea and generally causes students to perform poorly on both exams. This can become unnecessarily frustrating for both student and parent. Although it’s tempting to spend every waking hour studying, it’s important that students have a certain amount of downtime during their test prep. A minimum of 90 minutes each day is a good place to start. Real downtime is a period in which students are not focused on their studies at all. Remember to do something that does not involve sitting at a desk or working at a computer.  An effective downtime activity should be something where the student can get some fresh air or exercise, or just rest. It should be noted that the use of social media does not count as downtime during test prep study (READ: “A Timeline Study Guide for the SAT”).

4. Help from a tutor

Students taking both the SAT and AP exams in May are highly advised to seek the expertise of a private Irvine test prep tutor. Some students are tempted to be a superstar and take on all of this work on their own. However, the guidance of a tutor can help students stay on track, manage their stress, and prioritize their studies so that they can perform well on both tests. It’s also important for students to remember that they can take the SAT a second, third, or fourth time but that the AP exams are given only once.

Bottom Line

Although it’s generally recommended that students don’t attempt to take these two very important tests in the same month, if they choose to do so they should have a long-term study plan in place, should be able to manage their time wisely, and should not be afraid to ask for help.

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