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Help your Teen Prep for the ACT & SAT

Amber Brandt  |  February 21, 2022

While test scores aren’t the only thing colleges consider before accepting a new student, doing well on the SAT or ACT can make your child’s application more likely to be accepted, or raise their eligibility for scholarships.

It can be overwhelming to know how to prepare for college-admissions testing, but the single best way you can help your child is to be well informed as early as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare.

1.  Start early. The ACT and SAT are designed to measure years of learning — so cramming won’t lead to success. In fact, most experts recommend a student should begin preparing for college admissions tests in 8th grade. It’s not too late if your child is already in high school, but together you’ll want to buckle down and work through this list.

2.  Seek out a challenge. Encourage your child to take academically challenging classes throughout their high school years, but keep in mind, these tests cover material your child should be learning during their regular fundamental coursework. Help them seek mastery in their studies.

3.  Get to know the format. Because these tests are timed, it’s important to help your child develop strategies to answer efficiently. Making an educated guess on an answer you didn’t know used to be frowned upon, but an incorrect guess no longer results in a penalty on the SAT. Here is a great free test prep option — or check out this blog for more options. Do a search online for study materials and resources. There are many available for purchase, as well as tutors who can help them shore up weaker areas. There are also free resources and templates to review.

4. Be a solid support. Facing graduation on the horizon and preparing for these tests can be very stressful. Your child needs you to maintain perspective and wisely walk through the process with them. Getting into college is important, but even if your child doesn’t get into their first-choice school, it doesn’t spell failure. They will still experience success and an excellent college experience elsewhere. Plus, re-testing is an option if time permits.

Looking for a slightly deeper dive? Check out this fabulous post from the Princeton Review, this blog from Great Schools, or this breakdown on understanding the ACT.