Creating a Summer Test Prep Routine

By Amanda Boyarshinov

Test Prep

Summer is a time for relaxing, dipping your feet into the pool and slurping popsicles on the lawn. With the extra daytime hours, summer can also be a time to start preparing for important fall tests. You can use this free time to create an effective summer test prep routine with your kids.

A runner would not begin training the day before a race, just as a student shouldn’t begin studying the day before a test. In fact, students should make a plan to prepare for high stakes testing throughout the entire summer. Now is the best time to sit down with your child and develop a summer test prep routine. Ideally, this routine should start when the school year ends.

Gather Your Supplies

Prior to developing a preparation routine, it is recommended that you order any sample tests and available study guides. This will help guide and keep the test preparations focused. Consider utilizing local resources such as libraries, used bookstores, garage sales and Craigslist to find test specific materials on a budget.

Know the Content on the Exam

It is also recommended that you encourage your student to review and understand how the test is scored and what content will be on the test itself. Some exams may have this information available to students online. The school resource center is another place where students can find out more specifics about the materials covered in their particular exam. This will help them assign weight to various sections of the test so that time is strategically spent on areas that will count the most. More time should be spent learning and reviewing the content that will be presented most often on the test and the areas where the student feels the least confident.

A Summer Test Preparation Routine Includes:

1)    Responsibility matrix. This is the part of the test preparation routine where you and your student set his or her goals and write down the specific activities he or she needs to do to accomplish those goals. Make sure that the goals are realistic and that the activities chosen will help to reach that goal.


Objective: Reach 80 percent mastery on the practice test by week four.

Activities to accomplish that goal:

1. Read outlines of covered materials and take additional notes on content.
2. Review previous notes.
3. Make 30 vocabulary flash cards for most important words.
4. Review and use vocabulary words.
5. Perform practice test under practice conditions.
6. Evaluate test results. Review correct answers of each test.
7. Read in more detail the content from the lowest scoring sections.

2)    Calendar of activities. This is where you and your student can decide how long and how often he or she will perform each activity. In this sample, the high school student has decided to study every day for a minimum of 75 minutes. Here is his weekly schedule. After completing each practice exam, the focus of study in the beginning of the week would center on the content missed in the practice exams.

Monday 1 hour reading outlines, note taking, review content
20 minutes making vocabulary note cards
Tuesday 1 hour reading outlines, note taking, review content
20 minutes reviewing vocabulary note cards
Wednesday 1 hour reading outlines, note taking, review content
20 minutes reviewing vocabulary note cards


90 minutes practice test with practice conditions


Friday Grade practice test and evaluate results
1 hour reviewing correct answers

The time spent preparing for tests should be adjusted based on the age of your child. A grade school student may have a goal of reviewing materials three days a week for 30 minutes. A middle school student may choose to read, study vocabulary and practice tests for 45 minutes. This is where parents can help guide students in coming up with a reasonable test preparation time for their age and goals.

3) Resources Available. This is a place where you gather and list all the resources available to your child to help prepare for the test. Teachers as well as student study groups can and should be included in this area. Consider designating a special drawer in a desk or setting study materials in a basket so they are all readily available and in one place for your child to use.

4) Rewards and Incentives. Studying is hard work and it is important to celebrate and take time to have fun when your student has completed the tasks. This section of the test preparation routine is very important to staying focused on the goal and motivated to continue preparing. Some students do better with little rewards and others do better when they reach a particular goal. This part is up to the individual test taker. Possible rewards for completing daily test practice are a sweet treat, additional screen time, or doing an activity he or she enjoys. Additionally, possible rewards for completing a week of summer test preparation studying are taking a trip to the pool, inviting friends over, or even throwing a Friday night pizza party.


Don’t wait until the last minute to start preparing! Use this free time to create an effective summer test prep routine with your kids. Purposely plan for summer test prep by making an effective summer preparation routine with your child. Make a Responsibility Matrix, plan your Calendar of Activities, gather your Resources, and create a list of Incentives for meeting summer test preparation goals.

Want more tips to beat test-taking blues? Check out the following from Sylvan Learning:

SAT Prep: 5 Study Tips to Beat Test-Taking Anxiety

7 Things You Need to Know About the SAT Changes

Why your Child Should Take a SAT/ACT Practice Test (Sooner Than You May Think)