5 Ways to (Unintentionally) Sabotage Summer Test Prep

High school students often spend part of their summer focusing on standardized test prep because they don’t have to focus on other academic course material or worry about their after school sports schedule or other activities that occur throughout the academic year. Unfortunately, many students, entirely unintentionally, sabotage their summer test prep through these common mistakes.


1. Going it alone

Many students try to tackle their SAT or ACT prep entirely on their own. Although this is admirable, students often spend way more time than is necessary attempting to get started or to self-organize when they could’ve accepted outside help. Students can work with a study group, a private Orange County SAT and ACT tutor, or use free educational websites to help them get started in the right direction. On the other hand, students who don’t utilize outside services often spend precious free time attempting to hone in on the specific skills they need to improve (READ: “A Timeline Study Guide for the SAT”).

2. Using the wrong source material

Students often don’t know which test prep book or edition to use or if they need to use a book at all. This can leave students wandering through a bookstore or browsing through multiple Internet sites unsure of what to purchase and whether or not the source material will truly help them improve. Students are encouraged to get a recommendation from a private tutor or classroom teacher as to which test prep book will best suit their particular educational needs. Additionally, there are tons of test prep websites out there, many legitimate but some not. Once again, a professional in the educational community can point students in the right direction.

3. Failure to create a timeline

Students who don’t create a timeline don’t have anything to hold themselves too. Let’s be honest, nearly everybody would rather spend their summer enjoying entertainment activities or enjoying the outdoors. Without a study timeline, students will usually procrastinate until it’s too late to get a good head start on test prep. Once the fall semester comes around, high school students will be inundated with homework and other assignments for multiple challenging academic courses. Add in sports, community service, a part-time job, and time with friends and test prep goes to the bottom of the list. Unfortunately, students who are taking the SAT or ACT in September or October will be overwhelmed with multiple academic subjects if they don’t start their test prep this summer. This often results in lower test scores and highly frustrated students (READ: “ACT Tips From a Private Irvine Test Prep Tutor”).

4. Failure to take consistent practice tests

Only a few students will take a full-length practice test before and after they start their test prep. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for students to legitimately track their progress. For the most part, students will take 1 English and 1 math section and then fill in the score report as if they had taken all of the sections or, they answer questions 1 through 10, calculate an average and then fill out questions 11 through 20 accordingly. Although this is a tempting way to save time, it’s a terrible way to get an accurate overall SAT or ACT score. Students who do take a full-length practice test will often do so in the absolute quiet of their bedroom using earplugs or soothing music to help them concentrate. In reality, their actual SAT or ACT will be taken in a large room with many students, lots of distractions, and an overall anxiety inducing environment.

The best way for students to truly track their progress is to simulate the test-taking environment as closely as possible. Additionally, students should be taking a practice test at least once a month over the summer. One at the beginning of their studies, one part way through, and one at the end of their summer prep. Students who have not achieved a 100 point increase on the current SAT or a 2 point increase on the ACT are encouraged to hire a private tutor.           

5. Working the book cover to cover

Many students are tempted to work the test prep book from cover to cover, thus learning about many things they were good at already. If obtuse angles is a topic a student knows by heart, then they don’t need to spend countless hours reviewing it. Also, students who know all about parallel sentence structure don’t need to focus on this particular skill. Trying to study the entire test prep book or online material will leave a student too tired to focus on the things they need to learn about. Students are better off either learning from the results of their original practice test or hiring an educational consultant to help them get started (READ: “Summer Study Tips From an Irvine AP Tutor”).

Planning on taking the ACT and SAT in the fall? Start preparing now with the help of a private Irvine test prep tutor. Call us today for more information.

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