By Smarty Guest Blogger Melissa Pluchos, Academic Advisor, Elani Learning
Families of junior students, can you envision the day when that cherished college acceptance letter arrives in your mailbox? It will be here before you know it, but there is a lot to do in the next year to help make that dream a reality. There are many uncertainties and seemingly endless options that can make the college preparation process feel daunting at times. It can indeed feel like an extra class on both you and your student’s schedule for the next year and a half, but don’t get discouraged! How can you stay positive and motivated? Planning for SAT/ACT test prep can help you control the content of those highly anticipated decision letters.
But how will we find the time to prepare for this test? And how do I get my high schooler on board when we cannot even agree on what colleges to consider? We suggest breaking this long-term process into manageable, shorter steps and now that we are a few months into the academic year, the initial steps should begin now!
On February 28, 2017, North Carolina public schools (and many private schools as well) will administer the official ACT to all of their junior students (for free)! This test administration establishes the first major deadline in the college preparation process. If you don’t already know what range of scores your student should achieve based on his or her preferred colleges, this should be at the top of your “to do” list between now and February.
College visits can be a productive way to energize both you and your student for the process. Whether a quick weekend trip to local schools or a longer tour over a school holiday, visualizing the end goal of studying and living at a beautiful college campus is a great start.
During these visits, you will learn more about the types of standardized tests your preferred colleges may require and, of course, all sorts of acceptance facts and figures. You and your high schooler can then begin to discuss the timing of their standardized test(s), which test(s) to take and over what period of time and what type of preparation they might need. Your student’s experience with the PLAN or PSAT is also a good starting point.
Once you know your student’s goal scores, what then? In this day and age, there are many standardized test preparation strategies available and each has its own advantages and drawbacks according to your student’s academic goals, learning style, test taking comfort, motivations and interests. The most important thing is that your student commits both their time and effort toward whatever strategy you choose. Partnering with a test prep provider for “big picture” planning and weekly feedback can help you and your student maintain their commitment to their long-term goals.
With the overall strategy determined, you and your student should then make monthly plans that include tangible steps like taking a diagnostic test, completing specific homework, and following up with another practice test to check for improvement. On a weekly basis your student should commit to at least two hours of study and practice work. He or she should also receive or search for feedback regarding weaknesses and learn new strategies to tackle the questions in the various content areas.
As your schedule is certainly already full, be sure to be realistic with your objectives, allowing time for school activities, family responsibilities and even a reflection prior to the actual test. The college preparation process is a marathon, not a sprint, so handling the inevitable obstacles can become paramount to overall success.
We at Elani Learning provide personalized assistance to students at all points in their transition from high school to the great world beyond. With local area academic advisors, we combine in-person academic assistance with online tutoring at times and locales convenient to our students. Our co-founder, Russell Miller, was born and raised in Davidson, NC and believes that this is the very best area in which to grow up, even during the busy college preparation years.