As parents, it can be difficult for us to watch our children prepare for the ACT or SAT. There is a lot riding on doing well: a good score can dramatically influence going to the college of your child’s choice.
However, although these examinations are challenging, it should be remembered that they are designed for everyone, not just for those who are academically gifted. This means that diligent preparation will result in good to great scores.
In fact, all the nerves around these exams are more hype than fact. The ACT or SAT can be defeated by someone who is well-prepared. Yes, it does take focus, diligence, and hard work, but these are learnable behaviors and skills.
6 Tips for Success
Here are six things your child can do to guarantee success:
Pair Up With a Buddy
Usually, the buddy system works well. When students share a common goal and get serious about getting good scores, it may be all the motivation they need to study on a regular basis.
Use a Good Online System
Gone are the days when parents had to hire a tutor to coach their child to do well in a big exam. Now your ‘soon to be’ graduates can learn at their own pace through online education. At BarronsTestPrep.com, for example, your children can learn through video tutorials taught by experts anywhere they pick up a wi-fi signal (including the waiting room before taking their test).
Practice Working Under Time Pressure
Usually, what makes these exams so difficult is the time pressure. Every question has to be answered within a tight time limit. The way to handle this pressure is similar to how an athlete practices for their big event—practicing over and over again until a point comes where pressure is seen as a source of stimulation not a reason for dread. Pacing is a skill that comes from doing numerous practice tests while a kitchen timer ticks away.
Make it a Game
Studying can be exciting or dull depending on how it is done. Using prep books can be dry and difficult to learn from. Often video-based teaching is livelier and holds attention. Another way to make studying more of a game than a chore is to set certain standards and offer predetermined rewards when they are reached.
Master Skills, Then Do Practice Tests
Usually the first challenge is learning skills that your child may not have learned in class. However, after this stage, then the remaining challenge is just learning how to take the test itself. This is where doing lots of practice drills is useful. By the time your son or daughter actually takes the real exam, it will feel like just another test drill and they will not be nervous about it at all.
A Supportive Attitude
In essence, there are three things that you as a parent can do to make it easier for your child to handle the pressures of taking the ACT or SAT. The first thing is to demystify the exam by toning down the hype and expectations. The second thing is equipping your child with the best learning system, one that can be accessed from any computer or tablet and that can be customized for factors like time, skill, and experience. Finally, the third thing is being emotionally available to handle any outbreaks of nerves or frustration.
How did you help your teenager to prepare for taking the ACT or SAT tests?