The summer is an important time for college prep, and students should be spending it wisely. Spending your summer solely preparing for the ACT or SAT is not impactful in terms of strengthening your application, but interspersing some test prep in between your regular summer activities can go a long way toward helping you reach your goal score.
For students taking a challenging course load, the school year doesn’t offer many opportunities to squeeze in additional test prep. Grades are the most important factor that colleges consider when evaluating applications – even more than test scores – so students may well want to focus on academics during the school year rather than letting test prep compete for their attention. The summer can provide important test prep opportunities for rising juniors and seniors who need to reach their goal score in order to gain admission to their top-choice colleges. Students should stay busy and engaged over the summer, but there’s always some downtime that could be used for extra test prep.
Preparing for standardized testing is a marathon, not a sprint, and we advise students to get in any study and prep time they can, especially when school is out for summer break. Here’s how students can maximize their break and prepare for the SAT or ACT during the summer months.
If you’re taking the SAT or ACT this summer.
For those taking the SAT or ACT in June, there’s only about a month left to prepare. Hopefully if you’ve registered for the June test you feel adequately prepared, but some additional test prep leading up until the test can keep the content and strategy fresh in your mind.
- Brush up on content. There are usually at least one or two areas of content that students need to improve on in order to reach their goal score. Whether it’s reading, math, or another content area, focus your test prep on that section so you’re able to master that area come test-day. Utilize practice materials, work on practice problems, and more to prepare.
- Take one more practice test. Simulating test-day conditions is one of the best ways to prep. Take at least one more timed practice test before sitting for the real thing. That way you’re prepared and know any last-minute adjustments you may need to make.
- Practice with one or two test questions per day. While it’s important to focus on areas of weakness, don’t neglect the other content on the test. Brush up before test-day by working on a couple of practice questions every day from various sections of the test.
If you’re taking the SAT or ACT this fall.
For rising juniors and seniors who are planning to take the ACT or SAT in the upcoming school year, the summer can provide plenty of opportunities to ramp up your test prep and really position yourself to reach your score goal if you use your time wisely before the school year starts.
- Create a test prep timeline. Those planning to take the ACT or SAT this fall have a little more time to prep over the summer, so sit down and develop a strategy. Create a timeline for practice exams and study time leading up until the test-day. Cramming for these tests is not an effective study strategy, and summer can afford you a lot of time to spread out your test-prep.
- Take at least four timed practice tests this summer. We can’t stress the importance of practice tests enough. Not only does it help you become more familiar with the test itself, it can help you with timing, pacing, strategy, and more. When you’re not engaged in your other summer activities, schedule some time to take a few timed practice tests before the school year starts back up (this should be built into your test-prep timeline and strategy!)
- Use downtime to work through study guide materials. It’s important to make time for fun and relaxation during the summer, but don’t slack off too much! Use free time to work through practice questions, review relevant materials, and adjust your test prep timeline as needed. Don’t wait until the school year starts back up to take your test prep seriously.
- Seek help if needed. More free time during the summer can mean more time for professional tutoring and test prep if needed. Working with a professional can help you maximize your study time this summer, and really prepare you for the exams this fall. Even if you’re away this summer, technology has made tutoring available to students no matter their location. Students can tutor in a secure virtual classroom anywhere! If you’re interested in learning more about our test prep services, check out the tutoring section and request more information here.
If you’re not sure which test to take.
Many students are just now starting to explore their college entrance exam options. We recommend that students determine which test is the best fit for them, and focus on preparing for that exam, rather than both.
- Take a diagnostic version of each exam. The best way to gauge which test is the best fit for you is to actually take it! Students should never sit for an exam they’re not prepared for, as many colleges will look at all scores from each time you take the SAT or ACT, so just signing up for a test date and taking the real thing to determine which test is better for you is not the way to go. Instead, take practice diagnostics this summer and see how you do. Examine your score and how it compares to your goal score, what you would need to do to improve, and just how you felt about each exam overall.
- Seek advice from test-prep professionals. If after practicing with each test you’re still not sure which is right for you, seek some professional advice. We provide diagnostic exams for both the SAT and ACT, which are then graded by test prep professionals who offer insight into strengths, weaknesses, and which test students should take. Test prep professionals, tutors, and even counselors and teachers can help give you some insight into which test is more suited to your abilities.
There are many ways that students can use their summer wisely, and test prep is just one piece of the puzzle. If you need help maximizing your test prep efforts this summer, contact us today for more information on our tutoring and test prep services!