Author: Tonianne Bellomo
ACT and SAT prep can be daunting. You have the books, the homework, the SAT practice tests, the ACT practice tests. Students often get overwhelmed and face quite a few obstacles when trying to get the work done.
In a time when the ideal college candidates give Leonardo Da Vinci a run for his money in terms of being Renaissance men and women (the quarterback is also Junior Class President, Vice President of the Glee Club, and volunteers at the YMCA on the weekends), it’s very hard for students to manage their time and fall into good study habits. Good study skills are key to succeeding not only on the ACT and SAT, but also in school and, later on, college.
That’s why I usually help my students create a daily study schedule that works with their schedules. This doesn’t have to be set in stone, and, in fact, I prefer to use dry erase boards myself when plotting my day out. Being able to move the hours around gives a sense of freedom to this very structured approach, but it also helps the student adhere to the schedule more because they feel they have some control.
Have your student sit down each Sunday evening and plot out that week. Teachers usually give major assignments in advance, and now sometimes even give a syllabus for the week ahead. By using that breakdown, teens can look at their week in advance, prioritize what’s most important (a big physics exam takes precedence over a paper due in two weeks but always make sure to leave at least twenty minutes to studying SAT or ACT notes), and start planning when things are going to get done.
The big thing to keep in mind is to break every task into short intervals. For example, give the student a twenty-thirty minute break after school before starting homework, then each subject gets forty-five minutes at a time. These short bursts of work allow the student to hyper-focus on a subject while preventing him or her from getting too overwhelmed by the work. The student can always come back to the work later.
For ACT and SAT prep, the student should definitely allot thirty to forty minutes a day to studying and working on homework for the tutor. Try and plan for a full length, timed SAT or ACT practice test every few weeks. This will help the student build his or her stamina for the test.
Knowing exactly when you have to sit down and do something is half the battle to getting something done. So for that student who has soccer practice at four and dance at seven but who also has a few tests to study for, plotting out days and adhering to a study schedule offers a bit of constancy in chaotic high school world.