I always say, “As early as possible, schedule permitting.”
“As early as possible…” means that students tend to see a greater an increase in their final scores when they give themselves more time to absorb the skills and strategies required to succeed on the ACT and SAT. Once they soak up what I have to teach them, conscientious students always get better over time—and the more time they have, the better!
My students also tell me the things they learn in my class often help them with their school work, so taking my class early in the junior year or, even better, in the summer before their junior year can have an additional benefit.
When I say “… scheduling permitting,” I mean that students need enough time to concentrate on my class. I don’t want students when they are overwhelmed with other activities.
I have learned, through twelve years and thousands of students, that kids can deal with only one other time-consuming activity while they are taking my class. School or a summer part-time job is the limit. If kids are in school AND working or doing a sport, a show, etc. they inevitably stint on their SAT work. The same thing goes for the summer: a 12-16 hour part-time job is the maximum a student should be working during the class. Of course, if students feel that they can handle the workload, then that’s their decision—and their money—but if their work and attendance suffer, I may ask to leave the class and start over when they have more time.
Sorry to sound so disagreeable, but I want my students to do well and truly believe that all student—poor test-takers, great test-takers… and everyone in-between—can improve their scores if they listen to my advice and apply themselves.