Salvage Summer ACT, SAT Prep With a Shortened Timeline
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Some high school students begin their summers with the intent of fully preparing for standardized college admissions tests. They understand that their time to study for the ACT or SAT will be limited once they return to school in the fall and wish to complete as much exam preparation as possible while their schedules permit.
If you hoped to do the same, but have not yet done so as the calendar turns to August, it is important to avoid panicking. Following this shortened summer test prep timeline will help you efficiently prepare in the time you have left before your busy school schedule starts.
Daily: Read some challenging material, such as newspapers and nonfiction books, every day. Reading can strengthen your vocabulary and comprehension, which will help you work through problems more quickly, understand them better the first time around and retain information more easily.
Week one: A worried student’s first thought might be to cram for the ACT or SAT, but this is as counterproductive as it is improbable. If you have already lost a great deal of time, you will more than likely be unable to study each topic as thoroughly as you would like.
Before you start studying, determine your strengths and weaknesses by completing short sections of practice tests to decide where you feel most comfortable or where you score best. Then, plan your prep accordingly, mapping out a study schedule that concentrates on the sections where you struggled the most. Do not waste time on areas that you do not need to review.
Week two: Begin by focusing on your weakest area. Aim to spend at least three days a week devoted to working through practice problems and learning test-taking tips and tricks for your lowest-scoring section. Because you’re working with a shortened timeline, try to spend one to two hours each study day.
Take the time to review your answers to understand why they were correct or incorrect. At the end of the week, take a practice test for the section you’ve been working on to assess your progress.
Week three: Once you get a handle on your weakest area, shift your focus to your second and third weakest areas, spending about half your time on each. Learn the components of the sections, including time allotted on exam day, types of questions and strategies for solving problems.
Work through several practice problems and solutions for at least three days a week. Again, make sure you’ve made improvements before moving on to review other sections.
Week four: Complete as many full-length mock exams, under test conditions, as you can this last week in August. Mock exams are the most important component of any test prep routine, and it is extremely unwise to sacrifice sitting for several practice tests in favor of solely reviewing content.
Once the school year starts, these mock tests will be the hardest prep items to make time for. It is far more difficult to set aside several hours on a school day for a full mock exam than it is an hour for math or vocabulary review.
Once school starts: Though your schedule once school begins will certainly allow for less test prep, do not convince yourself that you must finish studying in August. You will still have some opportunities to review test material and fine-tune your strategies once the summer is over.
Last Updated June 13, 2018