Do you have a high school student thinking about taking the SAT or ACT next fall? Are you familiar with how the tests have changed and what it means for your teen? We’ll let you in on a little secret…teens who start planning and practicing now in the summer for this important test won’t be as overwhelmed by having to add SAT or ACT practice to a busy school schedule, and:
- In the summer, your teen can work at a relaxed pace, and have time to focus and practice.
- You can now take advantage of the new August SAT test date before the demands of school start!
Create a Workable Plan
Not all test preparation methods work for all students. Luckily, there are lots of ways to study for the SAT or ACT, such as, in a study group, teacher-led classes, 1-to-1 tutoring sessions, or by oneself with a book. Thinking about which structure is effective for your teen is the best way to create a successful plan. Here are some tips for identifying the right approach:
- For teenagers who may need help finding a way to incorporate practice into their normal routine, signing up for a class or individual tutoring could help with realistic goal-setting, carving out time in busy calendars, and avoiding overload and burnout. Studying on one’s own with available materials works well for highly motivated, independent students, who are capable of holding themselves accountable.
- Students with learning differences often need a test-preparation teacher who can help them create an individualized study plan that focuses on strengthening their areas of weakness and practicing the strategies that match their learning style.
- For students with ADD or learning differences, having a trained SAT or ACT tutor with experience working with a variety of learning styles, may be the best way to make sure they reach their optimal score. Trained SAT or ACT teachers can also work with parents to make sure students are getting the proper testing accommodations and teach students with accommodations how to take advantage of these with adapted strategy use.
Take Full-Length ACT and/or SAT Practice Tests
Just like any required sports practices, taking an ACT or SAT practice test allows the student to improve skills. Finding the time to take a 4-hour practice test during the school year can be difficult. Take advantage of some blocks of free time in the summer in order to ensure your teen does well on the actual test. Here is how taking a practice test will help:
- Build Endurance: Taking practice tests is important for building the endurance it takes to sit and concentrate for a 4-hour test. Taking a full-length test every few weeks is the best way to increase stamina. Developing strategies to deal with test exhaustion and learning to pace oneself is key to doing well.
- Become Familiar with the Test: Already knowing the structure and directions for each section will free up extra minutes to spend answering questions. Having this familiarity with the test can also reduce anxiety when taking the actual test.
- Focus on Needed Areas: Taking practice tests will help the test-taker and the SAT or ACT tutor (if you have one) figure out early on what parts of the test are hardest, providing more time to improve on those sections. This is an important strategy for all students – everyone can learn what parts of the test are most challenging and develop individualized strategies to reach specific goals.
When Practicing this Summer, Your Teen Should Remember:
- No One Compares to You: Comparing or competing with others is the worst approach to take, because the tests are all about the person taking it and what strategies work best for that person.
- Stick with What You Know: Use what already works well personally, or find a tutor familiar with different learning styles to help figure out the best study strategies.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to SAT or ACT test-taking success. Like sports, a little training can go a long way, and summer is the perfect time to begin. The sooner your teen makes a plan and starts implementing it and practicing, the greater that success can be.
Rhode Island Tutorial & Educational Services (RITES) has SAT/ACT experts ready to help your teen approach the test with concrete strategies and confidence. For more information, click here.
RITES keeps up with the latest information and innovations with these high-stakes standardized tests. Find out what you need to know about the new SAT format with our New 2-hour SAT Overview Workshop.