Many of you have asked me what my son did to prepare for both the ACT and the SAT. And when I asked my now 18-year-old son how he studied, I was surprised by his answer! First let me tell you about his test results, which makes this Mama pretty happy and relieved as I was a bit worried at first. I worried because during his Junior year and the proceeding summer he didn’t seem to be studying for the big college entrance exams much at all. We received a lot of mail advertising study workshops that he didn’t sign up for due to his busy schedule. So yes, I was starting to worry about how he would do on test day. But he did have a plan and that plan of his worked well!
He did very well on the ACT, scoring a 32, which is in the 98% of the national test results and he also did great on the SAT. His score on the SAT was a solid 2000 which is in the 93% range, according to PrepScholar.
In addition to his high test scores, he has a 3.9 weighted GPA and has taken both AP and honors courses all through high school. So I am joyful to share that he has been offered two academic scholarships, one to ASU and one to UofA. He has been accepted to The Barrett Honors College at ASU and is leaning towards that honors college since it is highly rated, works closely with the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, which is what he wants to study, and demands top academic performance from the students. The Barrett Honors College even requires that a thesis be written to graduate! So Barrett definitely has his attention.
However before he makes his final decision, he is waiting to hear back from our alma mater, UT Austin (Hook Em Horns!) and Northwestern. I find it frustrating that Northwestern doesn’t even give us their decision until April! Oh well! Patience is a part of this college planning process, I’m learning. So be ready to be patient, both with your teen, and with the process, as your family moves through the lengthy experience of preparing for college applications. But first those pesky exams must be taken!
During his sophomore year, we told him it was time to start gearing up to take the SAT and ACT. We insisted that he take both. He wasn’t happy with our demand at the time, but now he is thankful that he has both scores to share on his college applications since he did so well, on the ACT, especially.
So what did he do to prepare? His answer surprised us even! Keep reading as the answer is coming! But first I must tell you what he didn’t do. He didn’t take the PSAT…although I highly recommend that your kids do so. The only reason he skipped the very beneficial PSAT is because he had out of town hockey tournaments during the scheduled test dates.
He also didn’t sign up for the day long ACT and/or SAT prep courses that are offered on some Saturdays at the high school. Again, I suggest that your kids do that, too. Like before, his athletic and job schedule, got in the way of those workshop calendar dates.
So by the time the ACT and SAT dates were looming on the calendar, we were a bit worried about his lack of prep and we started to nag him. I mean really nag him, too! At his 17th year physical, his pediatrician shared with us that her teenagers weren’t allowed to leave to hang with pals until several hours of ACT and SAT study time was complete.
She enforced this rule every single day in the months leading up to the big test day.
Kudos to her because her children are now attending Ivy League colleges.
Our son didn’t like that idea. So we told him that he better come up with a plan.
He did. And it worked.
He used two free apps on his smart phone! Both apps prepared him and gave him sample test questions. Then the apps would keep track of his areas of weakness and prepare further sample testing and study in those subjects to better prepare him for the test day.
For the ACT, he signed up for and used ACT Up. This free app worked well on his smart phone and he gives this app a thumbs up. ACT Up features over 1,000 practice ACT test questions that are written by expert tutors and cover academic areas that include English, Math, Reading and Scientific Reasoning. He also really liked that the app sent him what is called daily workouts that worked on his weak areas of academic practice for the big test. He definitely improved greatly in those areas by test day. So the ACT Up app kept track for him in the areas that he needed work on and provided additional instruction and practice test questions to strengthen his knowledge and test readiness in those particular areas. Cool graphs are also provided. He liked that this app tracked his progress and then displayed his results and readiness in those colorful and easy to read graphs. All of these visuals, mock tests, workshops and instruction, were all done easily on his phone and that appealed to him. This encouraged him to open the app every day to work on preparing for the ACT. He only took it once, too!
For the SAT, he used the app called SAT Question of the Day. This app is also free and is our son’s favorite prep tool to date. He likes this one because the SAT Question of the Day app promotes daily practice instead of last minute cramming to properly prepare for the SAT. With the new revised SAT it is a bit different now from when my son used the app but that link will give you all the updates and the available apps that are now offered with the changes.
And for me, to find a study tool that my teenager was enjoying because it challenged him daily was a great thing!
Did you know the the SAT has been changed? Click here to get all of the updates and study apps available so that your teen is prepared!
There are other study guide apps out there that you may want to check out. These are the two that are highly recommended by our teen son.
And do what he didn’t do….have your teen take the PSAT and attend a workshop or two for extra prep. Our son told us that both exams were tough and that he was thankful that he used the two teen user friendly apps to help him prepare.
And I liked what his pediatrician told us. Make sure your kid is studying and preparing. Because like all of the other teenage milestones, this too will get here so fast that you won’t believe it!
Happy college exam test taking to your teen and happy teen parenting years to you.