Updated: May 17, 2023
While more schools have become test-optional, taking the SAT and ACT exams is still an important step in the college application process. Taking these tests can be stressful. In fact, 34% of students and parents polled by The Princeton Review said that taking the SAT, ACT, or AP® exams is the toughest part of the college application experience.
A little stress is par for the course, but there are some things parents can do to help their teen study for the SAT and ACT exams.
Deciding how to prepare for the SAT and ACT exams can be overwhelming, so your child might welcome a bit of help. Sit down together and research the best ways to get ready for the test. Those include:
The process for preparing for the exams leading into a four to five hour test day can be exhausting for a teen. Helping your child mentally and physically prepare for test day by doing simple steps such as encouraging a good night sleep, fixing them a healthy breakfast, and gathering pencils and test materials for the day, can help keep your child stay calm. You can also use a test day checklist to help you be prepared and ease the anxiety of forgetting something.
These additional steps—while potentially not as important as the weeks and months of studying leading up to the test—help students to be physically ready, energetic, and alert during such an important time.
While it's true that the SAT and ACT tests will likely be an important factor in your child's overall admissions package, they're just that: One important factor. Keep the pressure of these tests low by helping your child build a strong admission package beyond their exam scores.
That way if your child has a good GPA, great extracurriculars, and has written a stellar essay to boot, having fantastic SAT or ACT exam scores will just be icing on an already appealing cake.
Part of helping your child through SAT and ACT testing is understanding how the process works yourself. That means being prepared for your child to take the test more than once (potentially up to three times even, as is sometimes recommended by Peterson's, a college resource center), and understand that nerves can play a big part in not doing as well the first time around.
Tackling SAT and ACT prep as a team is a great way to help your child feel supported during a stressful time. It's also a great way to ensure you're doing everything you can to help them succeed and achieve their college dreams.
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AP® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this site.
College Board® is a trademark registered by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this site.