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

By Julia Fitzgerald

Subject Areas
Why Your Child Should Take an SAT-ACT Practice Test

My daughter is in 10th grade and more concerned about her speech tournaments and show choir than college prep.  Good thing she has me here to “ruin her life.”  I’m signing her up for ACT prep and I’m having her take the test this May.  She calls me paranoid – but I have been to this rodeo once before and I know that preparation pays off.


Eleventh grade is a tough academic year, and adding the pressure of SAT/ACT testing can be a lot for kids.  My first born (AKA the practice child) went through the junior year wringer and if I could re-write one thing for him, I would have spread the preparation out over more time.  By signing my daughter up for ACT “practice runs” and prep in 10th grade, she will already be used to these important college entrance exams.  My only regret?  That I didn’t start her last year.


Presidents’ Day is my first strike.  We have had enough snow days in Chicago that I’m not stealing “her only day off.”  She’s taking advantage of Sylvan’s free SAT/ACT Practice Test Day and getting started.  Based on the outcome, we may get some additional help in weak areas.


Additionally, I’ve been reading up on other ways to make sure that my daughter is completely prepared when she sits to take the test for real, and have found the following expert tips helpful:


  • Setting Goals: It’s important students have a general idea of the range of scores needed to get into their school of choice so they can study more effectively to make sure they’re reaching their objectives.
  • Create a Study Plan: Cramming the night before could actually hurt a student’s score.  Once you schedule an exam – even if it’s just a practice test – take the time to draft up a study schedule together to make sure you’re targeting specific topics and/or skills each week.  This will allow adequate time to practice leading up to the test.
  • Understand the Test Format: Taking practice exams gives students an opportunity to learn the instructions for each section, including how much time they have to answer the questions, how the section will be graded and whether it is in their best interest to guess the answers to any questions they are unsure of.  Knowing the rules of the test will also help save time during the actual exam because they’re already familiar with the test’s procedures and can just worry about tackling the test’s content.
  • Test-Day Preparation: Make sure your child has everything he or she needs for the actual test ready to go the night before, including several #2 pencils, a watch, a high-energy snack so they stay properly fueled throughout the test and a valid form of photo ID.
  • Test-Taking Attire: Many experts also tell students to dress in layers so they can either add or shed them throughout the test so that they are comfortable the entire time.


At the end of the day, I’m going to make sure that my daughter sits for the test three to four times before it’s for real.  Right now, I’m telling my daughter that this is all part of my Mom Chief Education Officer job.   She rolls her eyes.   Some day she’ll thank me.  Maybe.