On Episode 256 of the Prepped and Polished Podcast, Aaron discusses how much time students should be spending preparing for their ACT and SAT homework. He also makes suggestions about how much information to study at a time, when busy students should study, and much more!

Typically, we structure our sessions based on the amount of time we spend in session. It will equal about the same amount of time out of the session for homework. So, my recommendation for most students would be if we are spending an hour in session going over stuff or two hours going over stuff, more than likely they should spend an hour or two, respectively, on the homework that we are assigning.

Organize the time

Now, it’s best when we’re thinking about structuring the homework is organizing the time in which the student is going to complete the homework between sessions, so that we can avoid something where a student is either completing the homework the day before the session, all the homework, or in worst case scenario, right before the session with a tutor. The reason why we try and avoid this is we want to make sure that the student is able to internalize a lot of this material and cramming it all in right before the session isn’t going to allow them to consider thoughtfully and critically how they are approaching the homework for each session.

Small assignments versus larger assignments

So, we are going to do a combination of homework here at Prepped and Polished of small assignments that can be completed bit by bit in anticipation for the session, versus larger assignments that should be planned out well beforehand, such as time sections, so that a student can figure out how much time the homework is and how much time they have in front of them. Now, typically, certain drills from our binder or from supplemental material, we can structure that over the course of the week to do bit by bit. Ten minutes here, 15 minutes there, maybe a review over here for 5 to 10 minutes, or something like that, so that the student is able to make that a habitual process and practice for that content.

A lot of times I tell students, you know, “If you are learning certain punctuation or grammar rules, take five minutes a day, go over those rules, recap them.” For some of our younger students who are learning vocabulary for certain tests, such as the SSAT or ISEE, if they’re learning vocabulary, it doesn’t make sense to try and memorize 200 words in one sitting. That’s gonna be really challenging on the students. But if we do 10 words a day, twice a day, something like that where over the course of a week, they learn almost maybe around 100 words. But it’s split up over the course of seven days. It will be a lot more beneficial for them. It will create study habits that will let them succeed in their respective area that they’re studying for.

Plan out ahead of time

Furthermore, if we are assigning a larger assignment, such as a 60-minute math test, that should be planned out ahead of time. So, if I’m meeting with a student, let’s say, on Tuesday afternoons, and I assign a 60-minute math section, of course, we’re going to discuss in session, “When would be the best time for you to complete this assignment?” And if the student has a very hectic and chaotic schedule, I might suggest something where, “On Saturday morning, plan out an hour and 10 minutes to take this our section test.” Why an hour and 10 minutes? It gives us some time to spend about 10 minutes, or maybe 5 before and 5 after, to mentally prepare for the section test. Take the section test, and then debrief from the section test.

Don’t rush through it

A lot of times when we are trying to spend time on the homework, students like to rush through and just complete it. That’s not going to help them maintain and retain that information. It just means that they’ve finished the assignment and they’re moving on. When we look at the SAT and ACT, these tests are going to cover a large amount of content. The student needs to be prepared for anything and everything. And if they are practicing daily with the material, it’s going to enable them to excel in it so that way they are not surprised by anything, and also they’ve had the time to practice with it so that nothing seems to be brand new to them.

Final words

Again, a simple answer: how much time should you spend on your SAT and ACT homework? The amount of time your tutor tells you to. But in reality, it comes down to the student. If I assign a student an hour of homework, I expect them to spend an hour, maybe a little bit more, doing that. They need to spend some time reviewing and recapping before they go into it blindly. We don’t want them to go into it blindly. And then consider, “All right. I did these processes, I did these approaches. How did it end up?”

And even after the fact of completing the assignment, they might go over and be like, “These are some of the questions that I had trouble with, I’m going to ask Aaron the next time I meet with him.” That alone is going to help them immensely working through the material, so in that way, when the test comes, they know their content.

What was your biggest takeaway from this podcast about How Much Time to Spend on Your SAT and ACT Homework? Do you have any questions for Aaron and Alexis Avila?

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