What are the specific steps to take (and avoid) for your student to achieve his or her best results on college entrance exams?

What are the specific steps to take (and avoid) for your student to achieve his or her best results on college entrance exams?

1. Start right after sophomore year or as early in junior year as possible.

2. Figure out whether to start with the ACT or SAT.

3. Don’t take a real test without proper preparation.

4. Plan to take the test on two consecutive test dates.

5. Start test prep about eight to twelve weeks before the first test date.

6. Practice, practice, practice – and avoid shortcuts

1) In general, start test prep process as early as possible in junior year. Families are

much happier when senior year doesn’t include ACT or SAT testing. If your junior is

currently taking Algebra 2, wait at least until winter break because there is so much

algebra on SAT and ACT. Look at the workload throughout the entire school year. If he

plays football, wait until the season ends. If she has time-consuming activities in the

spring, schedule test prep early in the year. You don’t want to add test prep to a

schedule that is already fully committed.

2) Colleges and scholarship providers accept ACT and SAT scores on an equal basis.

The Achieve Academics approach uses practice tests to help determine your students’

strengths and weaknesses. In MN, we generally start out with ACT tests. You can also

have your student take an SAT test to determine if your student is better on one test

versus the other. You can also use results on a recent PSAT (the SAT practice test) as

a predictor of SAT performance. In late 10th grade or early 11th grade, students should

take a full-length ACT practice test with Achieve Academics to experience the faster

timing and feel of the test. The ACT Science section is unlike any test taken in school,

but don’t let that scare you away. ACT is the more popular test these days. The

proctored practice test takes four hours, usually on a Saturday or Sunday morning. See

whether ACT or SAT/PSAT feels like a better fit – and which test yields a higher score.

When we meet with you and your student for your follow-up consultation, we’ll evaluate

those detailed test results along with their academic strengths and other practical

considerations to select which test to prepare for first. Avoid bouncing back and forth

between the ACT and SAT. Pick one test, take it twice and then decide your next

course of action if your student has not met their score goal.

3) It’s a bad idea to take a real ACT or SAT test without proper preparation. Repeat —

don’t take a test cold. At Achieve Academics, we know that private tutoring or small

group classes are the best way to do test prep; that’s what we do. There are other ways

to do credible test prep, however, including free online services like ACT Academy or

SAT Prep on Khan Academy. One-on-one tutoring is best; small classes can be very

helpful as well; online prep can be appropriate if students are either very diligent or

supervised by an adult.

4) Students should plan to take the real ACT on two consecutive test dates in junior

year. Avoid skipping a test date because that can leave a 3-month gap between tests–

long enough for students to lose their edge on the skills learned. If you’re thinking of

switching from ACT to SAT or vice versa, take a practice test with Achieve Academics

before switching.

5) During ACT test prep, Achieve Academics tutors work with students to strengthen

their math, reading and writing skills. They also teach test-taking strategies tailored to

match each student’s strengths. After each session, the tutors send progress notes to

parents to show what was covered and homework for the next session.

6) Make time to practice, practice, practice. Just like improving skills in athletics or the

arts, students get better at testing by taking practice tests. In addition to the session

time with tutors, students are assigned parts of a full practice test (3 hours with standard

time) to take at home between their weekly sessions. Our tutors do a great job of

coaching students and holding them accountable, but it’s up to students to take

ownership of the test prep process. It’s hard work and there are no shortcuts.

Call Achieve Academics at 763-559-8378 or email jpaidosh@achieveacademics.com to

discuss strategic options for moving forward with testing. We look forward to working

with you to help your student prepare to continue their academic goals!

Written by Achieve Academics, Plymouth, MN in conjunction with Dogwood Tutoring

and Test Prep, Sandy Springs, GA.

NYU Study Examines Top High School Students’ Stress and Coping Mechanisms

Article published by NYU, Press Contact: Christopher James.


The study shows that there is growing awareness many subgroups of youth experience high levels of chronic stress, to the extent it impedes their abilities to succeed academically, compromises their mental health functioning, and fosters risk behavior. Furthermore, this chronic stress appears to persist into the college years, and researchers warns it may contribute to academic disengagement and mental health problems among emerging adults.

  • Over time selective high schools have oriented themselves to address a context of increasingly competitive college admissions
  • School work, college applications, extracurricular activities, and parental expectations all contribute to teenagers’ stress
  • Youth, schools, and experts identified substance use as a common strategy for coping with stress

“School, homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, repeat—that’s what it can be for some of these students,” says Noelle Leonard, PhD, a senior research scientist at the New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN).

This article was republished from NYU,  read more.