teaching tips blog


Sep 13, 2012

Is Your Teen Ready for the SAT/ACT?

Becky Cooke

   This is the season we get many calls for information about registering and prepping for the SAT/ACT college admission tests. Both the College Board and the ACT organizations provide a calendar of test dates and online registration.

   Parents are always interested to know when their teens should begin taking these tests. There is not a hard and fast rule. Often you can gauge when your teens are ready to tackle them. Since the math section covers material from basic math, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and some Trig, your teen will need to realize that these scores may be lower if he/she has fewer math courses completed when starting to take the tests. In light of that, it may be wise to consider completing at least Algebra 1 and Geometry before taking the tests.

   It’s prudent to have your teen plan to take the test more than once. Scores usually rise the second time due to familiarity with the test, causing the student to be less stressed. The last time to take the test will be the fall of the senior year if students are making application to colleges. However, if your teen is taking a gap year after high school graduation or maybe spending some time at the community college, he/she can continue taking SAT/ACT tests until applying to four-year colleges.

   Please do not send your teens into the test without prior preparation. As many people you talk to, as many strategies you’ll hear! Some students like to spread the prep work over a semester before the test date. Others prefer condensing it into a month or so before the test. Every student is unique so listen to them when you plan.

   Another question we get is how to prepare. There is no magic bullet, but it is true that preparation has proved to be worthwhile. On our high school website, we have a number of test prep resources. Some are free while others have fees attached to them. You will also find resources on both the College Board and ACT sites, in your local bookstores, or online at such places as Amazon.com. One piece of advice: choose one strategy to use per test, learn it, and practice it. If your teen tries to combine strategies, he/she will soon be frustrated and probably not remember what to do when. Diane and I are always happy to talk to our members if you have questions or have trouble narrowing down the choices.

   Please don’t become discouraged if your teen’s scores come back lower than expected. They can take it again. Yes, some students are born test takers while others struggle. Colleges know this. Besides, the Lord is in charge and He has yet to be stopped by test scores!

- Becky