Summer is quickly approaching! As you begin planning out those summer calendars, it might be a good idea to consider how SAT/ACT prep might fit into the schedule. During the school year, students are often overbooked with myriad extracurriculars and homework for their courses. The summer presents an opportunity to really focus on the ACT or SAT without having it be a source of added stress in an already hectic schedule. Whether you’re planning to work with a tutor, enroll in a prep class, or prepare on your own, here are a few things we’d definitely recommend:
Reading comprehension is by far the most tested skill on the ACT and the SAT. In addition to the reading sections on both tests, reading comprehension is rolled into the math section, the science section, and, of course, the English and writing sections. The more reading that students can expose themselves too, the better prepared they will be when it comes time for the exams. Ideally students will be reading ACT level texts (articles from National Geographic, The Atlantic, and other peer-reviewed sources are good bets), but spending quality time reading and digesting texts matters more than what exactly is being read!
2. Set up a schedule and stick to it (as much as you can)
Since students’ summer schedules are typically more open than their school year calendars, it is important to explicitly and thoughtfully plan out when test prep will happen. If not, you can risk falling into an “I’ll just get started tomorrow” scenario. The prep should be planned so that students avoid burning out and also avoid cramming. A few regularly scheduled hours a week should do the trick.
3. Take full-length practice tests
We consider this one of the most important parts of any test prep program. Taking full-length practice tests allows students to practice the “non-academic” skills like time management and stamina needed for peak test performance. It also gives students a feel for the test (How early should they wake up? What should they eat for breakfast? What should they bring for a snack?). In addition, full-length practice tests give students an idea of how their score is progressing. Reviewing missed questions is one of the most important and beneficial prep activities. We recommend students take full-length, timed practice tests every 2-3 weeks over the summer.
These resources can provide a great help when students need more structure or when they need help understanding an unfamiliar topic, especially students who choose to prepare on their own rather than work with a tutor.
Whether you are finishing up your sophomore year and planning to get a head start on test prep, or finishing your junior year and pushing to get in one more ACT before college apps are due, now is a good time to make a plan to reach your goals this summer!