Preparing for the SAT and ACT takes time. It can take several months to be really prepared to ace these tests. Unfortunately, time in a luxury when you’re in high school. Your schedule is already packed with school work, homework, assignments, and searching for scholarships and colleges. Then of course, there’s life. It’s important to stay connected with family and friends no matter how packed your schedule. Is it even possible to get in any test prep practice with a busy schedule?
This is where your time-management and organizational skills come into play. With careful planning and fierce persistence, you can get in enough test prep to ace your tests despite your busy schedule.
Tips for Balancing Test Prep with Life
Committed to balancing test prep with life but don’t know where to start? These tips will help.
Make an Overarching Plan
Think of it as a brain-dump. Take a piece of paper and list out everything you need to get done. This includes school assignments, homework, extracurricular activities, family time, and other commitments. Don’t forget to include studying for the test. Put it in there otherwise you’re likely to forget when creating your weekly schedule.
Create a Weekly Schedule
Breaking down the large plan over several weeks will make it more manageable and less overwhelming. Start by out blocking time slots that are already filled with school, homework and other activities. Now you can see how many hours you have free over the week. Schedule in your test prep during these free hours. How many hours a day you need to put towards test prep will depend on a couple of things. If your SAT/ACT is a few months away, you need to spend only a few hours every week in test prep. The shorter the time left before the test, the more hours you will need to put in studying every week.
Don’t Forget to Schedule in Some Down Time
Creating a packed calendar is neither practical nor healthy. You’re more likely to get burned out if you do this. It’s important to take regular breaks and relax. Spend time with family. Make yourself a healthy snack. Catch up with friends over video chat if you can’t visit personally. Taking time out from studying will actually help you retain information better. Try to avoid social media during this time though. With social media, a 10-minute break can turn into an hour without you realizing it. Besides it’s more stressful than relaxing, which defeats the purpose of the break.
Adjust Your Schedule if You Need to
You should try as much as possible to stick to schedule but know that it is not completely inflexible. Life happens. A family member may need some extra help one week. A teacher may set a surprise test another week. Or you may just find that your schedule is not working for you. Whatever the reason, there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back and adjusting your schedule. In fact, it’s better to do this rather than get stressed over a messed up schedule.
How to Have an Effective Study Session
You’ve made your weekly schedule and set aside time to prepare for your upcoming test. The important thing now to make the best of that time that you’ve set aside. These tips will help you maximize each study session.
Create a Distraction-Free Study Zone
The television, cell-phone, video chat and your pet may all be vying for your attention at the same time. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to study with so much happening around you. To maximize your study time, switch off all electronics and communication channels and go incommunicado. The fewer the distractions, the better you’ll be able to focus on your test prep. Clutter can also be distracting so take a minute to clear your study table before you start.
Getting organized is the secret to getting the most done in the least time. This is especially important when you’re already short on time. How do you get organized? Plan what you’re going to study ahead of time so you don’t spend half your prep time wondering where to start. Keep everything you need ready – note pad to write down special notes, scratch pad to solve math problems, and stationary.
Make Notes of What You Do Not Understand
Don’t skip a question or a problem because you don’t understand it. Make a note of it and ask your teacher or SAT/ACT tutor if you have one. You lose marks for every question you don’t answer on the actual test.
Where To Find Test Prep Tools
Preparing for the ACT/SAT doesn’t have to be boring or frustrating. There are several online test prep tools that offer interesting ways to study for these tests.
Act Academy – Act Academy is an interesting site that offers tons of interesting study tips, interactive lessons, and other useful resources for free. You can even test your preparedness by answering the official ACT exam.
SAT Vocab by MindSnacks – This cool app offers students an interesting way to improve their SAT vocabulary through games. Match SAT prep words to synonyms or antonyms, complete sentences, or identify words through their definition – all through fun games. Improving your vocabulary has never been so much fun!
Khan Academy – Khan Academy offers a wealth of tools and resources that you can use to prepare for your upcoming test. This site is highly recommended to high schools students looking to ace the ACT/SAT.
Check out how your ACT/SAT scores affect your acceptance odds to any college in the country with College Raptor’s free match tool!