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[Parent Involvement] 5 Tips to Help Your Child Prepare for College Entrance Exams

[Parent Involvement] 5 Tips to Help Your Child Prepare for College Entrance Exams

Most children and their parents are familiar with the ACT® and SAT® college entrance exams. While preparing for these exams can be anxiety inducing and confusing, you can do a few things as a parent to lessen the stress on your child (and yourself). Educating yourself on the purpose of these exams and the ways they work is a lot simpler than you think. Here are five tips to help your child prepare for these exams:

1. Familiarize yourself with each test

While you may have already heard of the ACT and SAT, you may not know what each exam entails or which one is better for your child. Sit down with your child, and have a conversation about what kinds of colleges he or she wants to apply to and how each exam fits into that plan. Typically, private colleges and schools on the East Coast or West Coast tend to use the SAT, while public schools and those in the Midwest prefer the ACT. Some schools will accept scores from either test, so it’s important to know where your child wants to apply. This information is easily found on any college’s or university’s admissions webpage.

2. Take inventory of strengths and weaknesses

Next, have your child map out his or her academic strengths and weaknesses. Be realistic about what areas your child needs more help in, and dedicate more time in preparing for those subjects. Don’t be afraid to set up a conference with your child and his or her subject teachers if you need a better understanding. Your child’s educators can suggest ways to study or areas of focus. Knowing where your child struggles and preparing to assist in those subjects will prevent panic on test day.

3. Practice, practice, practice

Practice exams are your child’s friend. There are countless tests available online and in print for your child to review. Be sure to browse your local bookstore for subjectspecific booklets or browse online for numerous practice questions and online flashcards. Look into having your child take the PSAT®, which is a practice exam that can also open up the opportunity for scholarships through the National Merit® Scholarship Program. Practice will help your child have a better understanding of what the test will look like when he or she takes it. If your child needs it, help him or her break down each question and understand what it is asking. While your child will take the test on his or her own, it never hurts to have an explanation or extra help when practicing. 

4. Register and prepare for the day of the test

Determine which testing day works best for your child, and plan accordingly. Help them register for the exam, and gather up materials they will need a day or two before the exam. Make sure that they know where the testing location is, what room they will be in, what items they will need to bring, and what time they will need to arrive at. The last thing you want is your child running around the house on the day of the exam looking for a calculator or ID. In addition, make sure that your child gets plenty of rest and eats a filling breakfast the morning of. 

5. Maintain positivity

College preparation can be stressful and overwhelming for your child. As a parent, you play an important role in his or her self-confidence and belief in his or her own ability. Remind your child to try his or her best, and reassure your child that you will support him or her whatever the score. While it may seem like a high-pressure situation, remind him or her that his or her score isn’t everything in the admissions process, and that, if needed, the tests can always be retaken with no penalty.'s picture
Brita Hammer

Brita started with Edmentum in March 2018 and currently serves as a Marketing Associate. She is passionate about providing teachers resources to help their students achieve in and out of the classroom. Brita earned a B.S. in Marketing from North Dakota State University.