Standardized tests, like the SAT and ACT, will most definitely be part of your teen's high school career if they plan to attend a two or four year undergraduate program once they graduate. Although there is much debate as to the value of these tests, how our kids do on them will have a significant toll on the collegiate options they have after high school.
Although scoring well on the SAT and ACT will not guarantee your child will get into the universities of their choice, scoring badly on them can seriously hurt there opportunity of getting into any competitive program. Preparing for the test is the key to how they will do. Working with friends, teacher and reviewing old tests is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to studying for these important exams.
Research/Practice Test Books and Exams
Nowadays you can go into any bookstore and find an entire section devoted to preparing for standardized tests. When purchasing prep books its good to choose at least two books as they are all different and make sure they include practice tests and study tips and tricks like answer elimination and test annotation. Some even contain pre-collated flash cards with important material for your child. There are some books, like Up Your Score, which take a comedic and educational look at the exam. Making it a fun read for them in the process. And don't forget to visit the College Boards website where you'll find released exams from previous years for free.
Ask For Help
Your child does not have to study for these tests by themselves. Have them reach out to classmates in their class about forming a weekly study group where they can talk test-taking skills, work on vocabulary and grade each other's practice tests. Teachers are also a great help when preparing for the SAT and ACT. See if they can suggest any literature or practice tests and discuss having the teacher devote some class time to working on the test prep.
Prep courses and tutors, although on the more expensive side, can go a long way in helping your child prepare for the exam. To save money, try working with the tutor or choosing a course on a specific area of the test that may be causing your child trouble, like the math or essay portion.
Review Old Work
Teens should generally start prepping for the exams at the beginning of junior year. And the best way to get started is to review old homework, class work and tests. Establishing from the get-go where the trouble areas are will help to set the course for the study process. Your child should study all areas of the test but putting more focus on the area that they feel most deficient will help get the preparation ball rolling.
Each teen is different and will approach these important standardized tests differently. Make sure you sit with your sophomore about half way through the year to discuss their college plans and preparations. There's no better way to get a good score on the SAT and ACT than by preparing early and consistently. Reach out for help and hit the ground running and your teen will benefit greatly.