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FAQs asked of Joanna Dean

When should my child start training for the SAT/ACT?  The earlier the better. Seventh grade is ideal for building vocabulary, reading comprehension, and basic arithmetic skills without using a calculator.  Most students are ready for this Boot Camp after Algebra 1, but depending upon the student it may make sense to wait. We have found that the “sweet spot” is in the spring of 10th through the fall of 11th-grade year. This allows plenty of time for practicing the strategies we teach. 

Why did you decide to start teaching SAT/ACT Prep? The Dean family had zero savings for college. We knew the only way for our three boys were going to college would be through academic scholarships. Our oldest son Sam is currently a senior in college and has not paid a single penny in tuition because of scholarships. He will graduate in December 2022 with ZERO student loan debt. Preparing for this test is an investment with a phenomenal R.O.I.

How long have you been doing this? I started researching the SAT when my oldest was in middle school. As a homeschooling family, I knew how much emphasis colleges would place on their SAT/ACT scores rather than solely on their GPA. The more research I did, the more I realized that this test was beatable. These tests use the same types of problems every time. I have been teaching SAT/ACT Test Prep classes for the last 7 years.

What is your background? I graduated from high school in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and went to Georgia Tech to study Aerospace Engineering all while working full-time at a Fortune 20 company. Although my career path took a change as I spent 16 years in the corporate world, it provided me with a strong foundation in public speaking and teaching. When our boys were in elementary school, I began homeschooling our children. It resulted in me not only being a teacher for my own children but for others as well. Over the course of twelve years, I have had the privilege of educating over 2500 students with an emphasis on Writing, Grammar, and upper-level Math (most of the ingredients on the SAT/ACT).

What curriculum do you use? I developed my own curriculum after years of being a student of this test. This is my full-time job; this test is my passion. I am consistently looking for the slightest changes in the test and revamping my curriculum on a regular basis to provide students with the most up-to-date strategies. I have spent thousands of dollars on research so you don’t have to.

What are the results from those that have taken the course? I am thrilled to tell you that these methods WORK! IT REALLY, REALLY WORKS! The results range based on the level of dedication of each student. You get out what you put in. We see an average of around 150 point increase on the SAT, with the highest gain of 430 points. On the ACT the average point increase is 4 points with the highest gain of 10 points.


This SAT or ACT Boot Camp is the beginning of the journey. Students will improve just by attending the Boot Camp, but for serious gains, the students must temporarily make studying a priority in their lives. The test is BEATABLE, but only if you take the time to study it. I work with them to help set goals, create a realistic study plan, and provide additional support by providing additional tests and scoring for no additional fees.


When should students begin preparing for the SAT or ACT?

Here is my recommended time table:

7th-8th Grade

Build strong grammar skills, read above grade level (focus on classic literature, medical/science journals, famous historical essays/documents), build vocabulary through Wordly Wise workbooks, build a solid Pre-Algebra/Algebra 1 foundation

9th-10th Grade

Begin taking real SAT/ACT practice tests, build a strong foundation in Algebra 2/Geometry (basic proofs only), sit for at least one SAT and ACT by end of 10th grade year, determine test preference, build speed reading skills. Sign up for a Dean Academy Boot Camp.

Summer between 10 & 11 - THE SWEET SPOT OF SAT/ACT TEST PREP, most students have the knowledge required to do well (except for Pre-Cal questions toward the end of the math test on the ACT). Go to a Dean Academy Boot Camp.

11th - Work on pre-cal foundation, refresh your grammar knowledge, expand reading skills, take or retake a Dean Academy Boot Camp or begin private tutoring with Dean Academy. Take lots and lots of practice tests and at least 2 real tests.

12th - Take one final real test in the fall and apply to college or trade school. Enjoy your senior year!

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