Students all over the country get the opportunity to stress out over a single test during their eleventh and twelfth grade years. Most of the time, they don’t even start preparing for the test until a couple of weeks prior to the test date. As a tutor, I see this time and time again. They call me for last minute preparations, when they should have been preparing since ninth grade. Basically, they are expecting me to work a miracle that they were to lazy to attempt years ago.
Truth is, preparation for the SAT or ACT tests should begin many years before you actually take the test. Students in high school should have the goal of attaining college preparation in their studies. With this in mind, students should examine their high school work to be sure that they are meeting the requirements.
There are a few basic questions you can ask to determine if you are preparing your high school student properly for these tests.
- Have you been prescribing a challenging spelling/vocabulary program for your student since 9th grade? You can use awesome tools like Spelling and Vocabulary City to make this easy. Students should be stretching themselves with each new spelling list. I like to use Major Tests spelling lists as well. Remember, spelling and vocabulary preparation is a sizeable part of the ACT and SAT tests.
- Have your students been writing clear concise essays? The introduction of the essay should occur at least by ninth grade – I prefer earlier. Summing up essay writing into just a few simple steps: Plan for 5 paragraphs-one introduction – 2 or 3 body points/paragraphs – and one conclusion that restates your 3 body points. An essay should be written from a given theme or question statement. The essay should also be able to be written within 25 minutes, using example from literature, history, and personal life.
- Are you challenging yourself with math courses? Don’t skimp on math preparation. The SAT and ACT tests mainly use questions from geometry and Algebra II. If your student thought they would take the easy road and just do basic math or accounting they will not score as high as they could have if they challenged themselves in this area. Yes, math can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. There are lots of great math tutorials that will help get these difficult points across.
- Is your student consistently reading and reading critically? By the time a student reaches high school they should be avid readers. Yet, not just readers but readers that analyze what they are reading and think about underlying themes and motives as well as plot projections. Encourage them to THINK while they read.