College entrance exams are often more intimidating - and more stressful - than any other test students will take while in school. Because these test scores are a major part of the college admissions process, the pressure to perform and score well can be overwhelming for teens. However, there are a number of ways that parents can help alleviate pressure and encourage their children to do their best. Take a look at the following tips that may help your student get prepared the the exams!
1. Plan ahead
Plan ahead as to when students will need to take their college entrance exams. This is especially important for seniors, as the exams will be sent to the colleges to which they have applied, and they must be done before applications are sent in. For applications due in January or February, November and December are the last months for testing. Students applying for early admission in October or November will need to test earlier in the year.
2. Practice, practice, practice
While the questions on every test are unique, college entrance exams follow predictable patterns of question style, length, and time given. Many experts recommend spending as much as 40 hours preparing for the test. Doing practice questions and tests can help eliminate the fear of the unknown and help students have a better idea of what to expect come test day.
3. Prepare for test conditions
The testing conditions for college entrance exams are extremely strict: no noise, no movement, no food or drinks, and no distractions. There are also strict time limits for each section. Prepare for the day of the test by having your student study without listening to music or in a quiet room; likewise, have them time themselves when completing sections of the exam to see if they are completing them at an appropriate speed.
4. Allow time for retakes
Plan ahead and make sure there is enough time to retake the test if necessary. Many students “freeze” under the stress of their first college entrance exam experience, so making sure there is enough time to retake the test can help you work to improve scores if needed.
5. Don’t be overwhelmed by stress
College entrance exams are no longer the only standard by which students are judged; there is no guarantee a 2400 on the SAT will get your child into their dream school. Help them see that college admissions officers are looking for students who are involved and engaged with their schools and communities, so good test scores are not a substitute for grades, extracurricular activities, work experience, strong essays, or glowing letters of recommendation.