How to Make a 6-Month SAT or ACT Study Plan

It’s November, well into the semester for high schoolers. SATs and ACTs are a topic of importance and although the spring and summer test dates seem far away, they’re actually right around the corner. If your child is contemplating taking the SAT or ACT (or both), it’s wise to have a plan.

A "6-month game plan" will be useful and build confidence for those kids who have kept up their studies, maintained a relatively decent GPA, and have taken school mostly seriously.

However, for those kids who’ve slacked off and think they can undo freshman/sophomore/junior year indolence, this 6-month study plan can help, but it will be time to really buckle down.

For the next six months, make sure your teen ...

1... takes the PSAT or Pre-ACT. The Pre-ACT is for sophomores and PSAT is usually for juniors. Although, sometimes the PSAT is also given in sophomore year and then in junior year for PSAT/NMSQT, which means scholarships! These “preliminary” tests help test-takers to become familiar with the exams without a lot of pressure, as the scores aren’t official.

If your child is a senior and hasn’t taken the PSAT or Pre-ACT, you can find samples online or ask your guidance counselor for help. Check with your local Sylvan about practice SAT or ACT tests, as many locations offer them!

Teen Studying for SAT and ACT
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2... is enrolled in the right classes. Courses that stretch abilities, boost vocabulary, demand lots of writing, and push computing and analytical skills are all good choices.

3... has plenty of support. That means from you, from teachers and counselors, from friends (They’re taking the SAT and/or ACT, also, right?), and from study buddies with whom your child prepares for important assignments, projects, and classroom tests. As the saying goes, it takes a village.

4... maintains good study habits. Many kids know what good study habits are, they just need us adults to make sure they’re practicing them. But, many teens need to be taught good habits. Remind your son or daughter that good study habits include: Avoiding distractions, managing time, being organized, keeping to deadlines, paying attention in class, and getting help when they need it.

5... takes an SAT or ACT prep course if necessary. There are lots to choose from, ranging from private tutoring to small group instruction, to large group lectures. If your child decides to do this, allow for at least 8 weeks before test time. Above all, remember many test-prep classes are not about learning the content of subjects that kids have been studying for years. Rather, they’re about learning strategies for test-taking, like knowing how to eliminate distracters in multiple-choice questions, how to read directions strategically and how to pace throughout the sections. Test-prep classes are the equivalent of athletes’ practices and performers’ rehearsals.

Sylvan has a variety of SAT Test Prep and ACT Test Prep programs to choose from. Sylvan Test Prep is unique in that if a student is behind, our tutors are able to spend a bit of extra time catching the student up in math and/or reading concepts before focusing on the SAT or ACT strategies. For more information, contact your local Sylvan for all the details on availability and pricing!

6... doesn’t put off preparing until the final minute. Kids are good at this. That’s why they need parents and teachers to keep them on track and nag if necessary. Cramming is never a good idea for learning. You and your child can sit down together to map out a study schedule. Assign one or two areas to focus on each session and spend the most time on the subjects that he or she feels the most uncertain of. As you get closer to the exam, your child will be grateful for this extra time and can beat anxiety on the big day.

7... puts it all in perspective. Yes, the SAT and ACT are important, but they’re not the only determinant in college/university acceptance. Overall, if your teen can say, “I did my best,” then the whole family should be happy! Remember, colleges/universities are looking at overall GPA, extracurricular activities, teacher/coach/clergy recommendations and well-written, thoughtful essays. If you and your teen have some colleges/universities in mind, take some time to review what each school looks for in admitting their students!

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We'd love to talk with you about how we can help your child reach his or her individual goals!