Top strategies to prepare your student for college entrance exams
By Adrianne Ivery
As the college admissions process becomes increasingly competitive, high school students and their families are turning their attention to the crucial aspect of college entrance exams. These standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, play a significant role in determining a student’s admission to their desired colleges and universities. To help students navigate this challenging terrain, we’ve compiled a list of essential tips to ensure they’re well-prepared for success.
- Start Early: Begin preparations well in advance, ideally during the sophomore or junior year of high school. This allows students ample time to understand the test format, concepts, and develop effective study habits without feeling rushed.
- Understand the Test: Familiarize yourself with the format, structure, and content of the specific entrance exams required by your chosen colleges. Different schools may have varying requirements, so tailor your preparation accordingly.
- Take Practice Tests: Regularly taking practice tests helps students get accustomed to the exam’s timing and format. Analyzing the results can identify strengths and weaknesses, guiding focused study efforts.
- Develop a Study Plan: A well-structured study plan ensures comprehensive coverage of all exam subjects. Allocate specific time slots for each topic, allowing for consistent and balanced preparation.
- Utilize Prep Resources: Take advantage of study materials such as official guides, online tutorials, and prep courses. Many resources are available for free or at affordable prices, providing valuable insights into test strategies and content.
- Focus on Weak Areas: While reinforcing strengths is important, dedicating extra time to weaker subjects can lead to substantial score improvements. Devote more study time to challenging topics to build confidence.
- Time Management: Mastering time management is essential for completing the test within the allocated timeframe. Practice pacing yourself during practice tests to ensure you’re comfortable with the test’s time constraints.
- Practice Writing Skills: If the exam includes an essay component, practice constructing well-organized and coherent essays. Develop a formula for structuring responses that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
- Simulate Test Conditions: Practice in an environment that replicates test conditions as closely as possible. Minimize distractions and adhere to time limits during practice tests to simulate the real testing experience.
- Stay Healthy: A healthy mind and body contribute to better performance. Encourage regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and sufficient sleep during the preparation period to maintain optimal cognitive function.
- Manage Stress: College entrance exams can induce stress, but it’s important to stay calm and focused. Engage in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to manage anxiety.
- Review and Repeat: As the test date approaches, revisit previously covered material and take additional practice tests. Repetition solidifies knowledge and enhances confidence.
- Stay Positive: A positive mindset can significantly impact performance. Encourage your student to visualize success and maintain an optimistic outlook throughout the preparation process.
Navigating college entrance exams can be a daunting task, but with thorough preparation, strategic studying, and a healthy mindset, students can increase their chances of achieving their desired scores. Remember that these exams are just one part of the overall application, and a well-rounded application that showcases academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and personal growth is essential for a successful college admissions journey.