Each new school year brings college admissions exam season for high school students. Starting with the PSAT in October of each year, standardized tests including the SAT, ACT, and the SAT Subject Tests are flying at you fast and furious.
To succeed overall, it is important for you to plan, prepare, and practice in order to perform. This is the key for a successful college admission exams experience, and will ensure that you reach your target scores. These “4Ps” can make you more confident and less anxious as you begin to tackle these exams.
Let’s review each of the 4P’s to better understand their importance:
Your first step to a successful college admissions exam experience is to develop a plan. As you develop your plan, outline when you will register and take each test as well as what you will do to prepare for each test. Make sure you allot sufficient time in order to prepare, usually regular study for 2-3 months before your test date is sufficient. However, the earlier you start, the more time you have to ensure you reach your “target score” – and only have to take each exam once!
2. Prepare and Practice
After you have developed your plan, the next step is to prepare. Research your top 3-5 colleges, and determine your “target score” for each exam you plan to take. Your target score should be equal to or higher than the scores reported by the schools on your list.
You do not want to take these tests without ample preparation; just like any sport or musical instrument you play, practice is the key to making your testing experience successful and thereby reaching your target score. Begin your practice early, and study daily, if only for 30-90 minutes each day, to become familiar with the test format, question types, content, and timing. Preparation will help you to be less anxious, more confident, and focused going into the real exam. Your results on these tests influence your future path so it pays to invest in the proper preparation to ensure that you reach your target score – and that you score high enough to earn scholarships too (which really makes the investment worthwhile)! To position yourself to reach your target score, consider the following:
- Working with an expert tutor.
- Taking a prep course.
- Utilizing preparation books.
- Reviewing online resources.
The right kind of preparation for you can certainly help you to achieve your target score and maximize your chance of getting accepted into the colleges of your choice. I can’t count the number of students whom have received test prep from a MathSP coach, and as a result of achieving a high test score, earned scholarships that helped pay for college. You see, making the investment on the front end can really help to save money on the back end!
photo courtesy of http://gabrielledouglas.com/
Now that you’ve planned, prepared, and practiced, it’s time to perform. After years of practice, Douglas made her hard work count. Gold-winning US gymnast and Olympic All-Around champion Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas is a great example of how planning, preparation, and practice lead to a strong performance. As a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team at the 2012 Summer Olympics, she won gold medals in both the individual and team all-around competitions. You too can apply Gabby’s Olympic mindset when exam day arrives! It’s important to condition your body and mind. Don’t neglect putting the pieces in place that will lead to your strongest performance possible. Be sure that you do the following:
- Develop Mental Toughness – Prepare mentally every day. Just like Gabrielle Douglas strengthened her body for the Olympic Games, you can strengthen your mental muscle. Complete a mental workout by doing practice problems every day to dramatically improve your focus and ability to consistently execute.
- Make Short Term Sacrifices for Long Term Gains – Gabby moved away from her family to train with her coach and become a world class gymnast. As much as you can, be committed to studying in an environment that is similar to where you will take the test to simulate a real testing experience.
- Get a Good Coach – Gabby clearly has plenty of raw talent, but the mentorship of her coach Liang Chow also played a major role in her success. You want your College Admission Exams coach to have proven expertise and credibility. The MathSP Team is here to be YOUR Liang Chow. We will help you maximize your raw talent, boost your skill set and understanding, and build your confidence.