Helping Your Child Succeed on the SAT/ACT In 7 Steps


Preparing for a standardized exam, like the ACT or SAT, is a daunting task for both student and parent.

From figuring out the content on the exam to understanding the format/structure of the test, the process is rather stressful and can lead to numerous arguments between all parties involved. As a parent, it is important to give your child support when studying for the exam while also holding them accountable during the test preparation process. Teaching them the correct way to prepare for a standardized exam but also providing them with the support they need to be successful and feel confident during the test.


When dealing with an exam of this nature, the best way to tackle the situation and avoid any test taking drama is to devise a solid study plan of attack and be prepared! Below are a few tips to help your child be successful on any standardized assessment and some pointers on how to keep you (and your child) as sane as possible during the whole process.


Understand the test

The purpose of the SAT and ACT is to measure a student’s readiness for college and also provide colleges with a common data point to compare applicants. The score from the SAT/ACT is used as one piece of the application process along with the college essay, high school GPA, and letters of recommendation. If you would like to know more information on the specific break down of the SAT and ACT, check out the following blogs.


Take the correct course load in high school

The best way to prepare for the SAT and ACT is to have your child take the right course load in high school. Classes such as Algebra I and II, Geometry, Language Arts/English, and Biology/Chemistry (ACT only). These courses will help your child better prepare for the content found on the SAT/ACT which in turn will also prepare them for their freshman year at college. Take a look at this blog that specifically lists out the course load needed to prepare for the SAT/ACT.


Use Practice Tests

Practice Tests are a great way to study for the SAT/ACT because they give your child (and you) a better understanding of strengths and weaknesses when it comes to content and time requirements. They also help your child:

  1. Get a feel for the formatting and structure of the test
  2. Better understand the content on the exam
  3. Pinpoint weaknesses when dealing with content and time restraints
  4. Devise a study plan that works for them


Have a study plan

The SAT and ACT examinations are roughly 3 hours in length and test everything from basic grammar skills to algebraic equations. Due to the comprehensive nature of the tests, it is essential to study over a long period of time (usually 1 year to 6 months in advance). Cramming is not really an option for an exam of this caliber! Take a look at a 6 month and 1-year study plan to get a better understanding of how to help your child be successful on the SAT/ACT.


Get help from a Tutor

If you find that studying for the SAT/ACT is getting overwhelming for your child and possibly even you as the parent….get help and hire a tutor. A tutoring service can provide a test prep program that is tailored to your child’s specific learning style and individual needs. Often times, tutors become masters of the exam they teach and have a wealth of tricks and tips to “crack” the test. With this individualized study plan, your child will become more comfortable for the exam and gain a better grasp of the content for success (and a better test score).


Help them with test anxiety

Test anxiety is a real thing and often plagues students when studying for a life-altering exam like the SAT/ACT. Help your child by teaching them ways to reduce stress and anxiety:

  • Practice breathing techniques and calming exercises
  • Try to have your child exercise to reduce stress
  • Take small steps– celebrate successes and embrace failures one step at a time
  • Talk about the exam and let your child vent….even if that means there are tears and yelling
  • Laugh and be supportive– it is hard to feel anxious when you are laughing and surrounded by loving family/friends


Be their #1 Fan

I have saved the most crucial idea for last…..Be your child’s #1 fan. Help your child be successful on the SAT/ACT by supporting them and being there to lend help when needed. Pretend that the SAT/ACT is a sporting event where you are an active member in the stands; be there when they need help, give them a gentle nudge in the right direction when they get distracted, pick them up when they struggle, and most importantly, cheer loudly when they succeed.



How can MINDSPIRE help with any exam?


At MINDSPIRE, we provide tutoring and test prep that is tailored to specific learning styles and individual needs. If you are interested in getting a tutor for any standardized exam, give us a call at 844-537-PREP (7737).


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