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…Even if you just begin practicing on your own. Every one wants a quick fix on these tests, I know. And there are tools and tips that can help a student raise their score quickly…but only so much. The hard truth is it takes time to learn how to “think like the SAT.” I always tell students and parents that, in order to master the ACT or SAT, you must understand how the test thinks and how it wants you to think. Sometimes people worry about test prep burn out. But, far more often, I have seen students and parents wish they had started earlier. Think of it this way: hundreds of different concepts and question-types can show up on any given SAT or ACT…and learning how to identify and then solve these various question-types takes the time it takes. On the SAT and ACT, familiarity leads to mastery. And, longterm practice can yield truly incredible point jumps…I have seen it happen many times.
I always remind parents and students that – like it or not – when it comes
to college apps, this four hour test counts as much as all four years of
high school. It is so easy to put SAT and ACT preparation off in favor of
finishing that homework assignment or participating in an extracurricular,
but, the truth is, you need to practice consistently to succeed on these
exams! Even a few minutes a day can make all the difference in raising that
score. And carving out the time to study may be easier than you think! Put
some formula cards near your toothbrush. Set a timer for 8.5 minutes and
tackle just one ACT reading passage. Review grammar and punctuation rules
for 15 minutes. Study 15 to 30 minutes a day 5 days a week and watch that
Know the score reporting policies for your top choice universities. Only
then can you effectively strategize how often you should take the SAT or
ACT. The UCs, for example, want only to see your single best test sitting.
Other colleges allow you to mix and match your scores for what is often
referred to as a “super score.”
Everyone would be thrilled with a perfect 36 on the ACT or 1600 on the SAT,
of course. But if you are starting with a 23 on the ACT, understand that
raising your score to a 27 takes heroic focus and practice. And you deserve
to give yourself a pat on the back as you climb your way up the ladder. Set
a goal that’s 2 points higher than your baseline score. Achieve it, then
set a new goal!
So often parents will tell me: “My daughter is good at English so she only
needs to work on math.” Not necessarily so. First of all, being “good” at a
subject in school does not always correspond to a “good” SAT or ACT score.
Second, it’s important to remember that schools are really taking into
account your overall (or “composite”) score. If your child is “good in
English”, consider the possibility that she may be able to attain an
outstanding English score, pulling her composite score up, up, up! She may
also be able to do this with less effort than will take her to raise her
math score to “above average.” And, if she’s planning on majoring in a
humanities-based field…which score do you think will be more important to
the college admissions counselors reviewing her application?
Practice tests are your secret weapon. And what’s better, they are free for
all Quantum students! We know that no amount of at-home practice matters if
it is not also accompanied with taking practice tests in a real testing
environment. It is here we learn to navigate time, overcome nerves, and
produce quality in a higher stress environment (not the comfort of our
I’ve been in this business long enough to watch the pressure to get a higher score knock even the most confident student off his or her game. I’ve seen calm and collected students develop true anxiety around the SAT and ACT…which can in turn effect their test performance. Yes, scores matters in college admissions.
But, let’s remember that there are countless respected universities that consider all kinds of variables when choosing whom to admit into their next freshman class.There are many fantastic test-optional schools out there as well, so try to relax about all of the unknowns. And, if you sense that SAT/ACT performance pressure it getting your kiddo down, my advice is to stick with 3 simple words, “Do your best.”
Now that you are equipped with these pro-tips for starting out on your
testing journey, let’s get to work! Feel free to contact us to discuss any additional test related questions you may have or to set up a test prep coaching appointment. We are excited to support you on your road to success!