It's the summer before your senior year, and there’s so much to look forward to, like prom, varsity sports, and spirit week! Then, there are the items on your college checklist … like standardized tests and college applications.
For many students, fall standardized testing season can be overwhelming: you’re trying to ease into the new school year and tackle other senior-year obligations at the same time. The best way to prevent pre-test cramming and the stress that goes along with it is to start early! This summer, you can get a head start on senior year and set yourself up for success on fall exams by taking these 5 steps.
1. Read, read, read!
Reading comprehension is a key skill needed for success on all sections of both the SAT and ACT. Reading on a regular basis will, of course, help you with the Reading sections. But here are some other ways you might not have thought of that reading can benefit you on the SAT and ACT.
- The Math sections of both exams are loaded with word problems that test comprehension first and foremost. It's common to struggle more with these problems than any others.
- The English section of the ACT and the Writing section of the SAT contain passage after passage that you need to edit, not only grammatically, but rhetorically. For example, you will be asked to consider the purposes of sentences and paragraphs. You must identify transition words that link sentences together, and you must think about whether sentences can be logically added or removed from the passage.
- The Science section of the ACT requires very little outside knowledge. Instead, it requires you to carefully read and comprehend the information you’re given.
Remember, reading doesn’t have to mean committing to 1,000 pages of a history text book or the great American novel. Read magazines. Read fantasy. Read the newspaper. Whatever you do, though, read for understanding.
2. Make a study plan.
Now’s the time to figure out how you can spread out your prep so that you don’t find yourself overwhelmed when the school year rolls around. Get a blank calendar and mark off your test date. Figure out how many days you have left, how many hours of per week you can reasonably dedicate to prep (while still leaving plenty of time for summer fun!), and what days and times work best for you during the summer. Schedule these times on your calendar, and try to stick to them as best you can.
3. Take a practice test (or two or three).
Standardized exams are marathons. They require not only mastery of a number of academic subjects but also stamina. This is one important reason why taking practice tests is integral to success on test day. Practice tests give you insight into your strengths and weaknesses. They also give you practice sitting and testing for at least three to three and a half hours—a major feat! Try to fit in two or three timed practice tests this summer, and aim to mimic testing conditions as much as possible.
4. Two questions per day keeps the cramming away.
Sitting down for a study session might seem like a chore, but investing five minutes a day in answering a couple of questions can add up to a nice amount of prep under your belt. Just make sure you’re reviewing the explanations to questions you miss and learning from your mistakes.
5. Do your research.
Have you looked into the score requirements of the schools you’re interested in? Do you know which colleges superscore the SAT? Setting goals allows you to stay on track, and knowing the facts about the schools you’re applying to is crucial for goal-setting.
A little early prep will take a lot of pressure off when testing season approaches!
Need more individualized advice?
The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.
ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.