It Is Standardized Testing Season, Are You Ready?

It’s October which means it is standardized testing time! Millions of students across the country will be taking the PSAT, SAT, and ACT exams from now through December. Unfortunately it is also the second month into the new school year which means students are busy with schoolwork, band practice, sports, dance, after school jobs, and numerous other activities. Ideally preparation for these exams should happen the summer before, but here are some tips to help students become prepared for these upcoming exams.

Studying for the Exam

Both the SAT and ACT exams cover similar subject areas. Reading comprehension, writing, and math are standard in both tests. Unlike the SATs, the ACT exam has a science component.  To study for both exams, students should work on expanding their vocabulary. You can purchase pre-made SAT vocabulary flash cards, or make your own on index cards. An increased vocabulary helps students on both the reading and writing components of the exams.

Like all sections of the exams, the writing component is allotted a specific amount of time. If the student struggles with writing under the clock, working on essay questions with a timer may be beneficial. Have the student pay attention to how the tests are scored. For example, the SATs give 1 point for every correct multiple choice question, and subtract a quarter point for incorrect answers. A skipped answer receives no points. Knowing how the exams are scored helps the student develop a strategy for answering each individual question.

Practice Exams

The PSATs are the “preliminary” SAT exams and serve as a practice test for the regular SATs. The PSATs help a student become familiar with the SAT exam and also makes them eligible for certain scholarship programs. The ACTs offer a similar exam called the PLAN. There are also numerous study books available as well as online resources that have practice exams.

One of the best ways to prepare for these exams is for a student to take a couple of practice tests. That way he or she can get a sense of where they might score, find areas to improve upon, and can also gauge their timing on the exams. When looking at colleges a student can see the average SAT and ACT scores accepted for admission. Practice exams can help a student find the areas they need to work on to help boost their scores to get them into the college of their choice.

Getting Extra Help

Sometimes a study book isn’t enough. It could be that the student doesn’t have the motivation to set aside the time for studying, or is struggling in a subject area that they may need extra instruction in. This is when getting outside help would be useful. There are plenty of study groups offered both in and outside of school. Hiring a private tutor to help a student prep for standardized testing is also an option. A tutor can help them identify specific areas they need to work on, and can work with the student to develop personal learning and study skills.


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