How to Balance Test Prep With Regular School and Activities

Balancing your academics and social life with test prep can be difficult.

Flickr user truds09

Given how much hype the ACT and SAT get, it can sometimes feel like entrance exams are the Biggest Deal when it comes to college prep. Some students put so much effort and focus into prepping for the ACT/SAT that they let regular school fall by the wayside.

The thing is, you need start balancing your academics and social life with test prep. The ACT/SAT is important, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the be-all-end-all of your college application. GPA is important too, as are extracurricular activities, and your overall sanity.

Make a Schedule

So, how do you start balancing academics, your social life, and test prep? The best way is to plot out your time. Creating a schedule is a massively helpful way to manage your time and focus. Write up a calendar that features your upcoming projects and tests, your extracurricular commitments, and find times where you can fit in ACT/SAT study time. Whether on an online calendar, a dry erase board, or a good old-fashioned calendar–visualizing your time can help keep everything in order.

Set SMART Goals

Setting goals is a great way to measure progress and gives you the motivation to aim for something. SMART goals can come in handy when it comes to balancing your efforts as well. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Some ACT/SAT SMART goals could include: getting at least a 29 on the ACT or studying for an hour every other night.

Accountability

Once you have a plan or a goal (or, ideally, both) it’s up to you to stick to it. You’ve got to keep your motivation up to accomplish your tasks. A great idea is to implement some sort of accountability system. You could tell your parents or friends about your goal and ask them to help keep you on track (or “nag” you). Or you could set up a reward for yourself—I can only play this game/eat ice cream/buy that new book I want if I study every night.

Check out how your ACT/SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor!

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