5 Test Prep New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year from AJ Tutoring! The turn of the calendar page to January always brings with it a renewed resolve to set ambitious goals. This year, why don’t you think about making some test prep resolutions? Here are 5 goals to get you started in 2014:

  1. Create a testing schedule for junior and senior year.  You may have heard the adage “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  While harsh, this statement is mostly accurate for standardized testing and college admissions.  By now, juniors should have a concrete plan for when they’re going to take the SAT, ACT, and any SAT subject tests.  It’s a good idea to complete a full round of testing by the end of junior year, saving the fall of senior year for retakes.  Many students take the SAT in March, the ACT in April, and SAT subject tests in May and June.
  2. Look at your PSAT scores and honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses.  By now, most juniors should have received their 2013 PSAT scores.  PSAT scores are a good predictor of SAT performance, so use that data to your advantage!  Adding a zero to the end of a PSAT score gives you the approximate SAT score.  The PSAT score sheet also includes valuable information on your performance in each section — for instance, if you aced algebra but struggled with geometry.  And if you’re missing a lot of easy questions, watch out for careless mistakes!  Use this information to focus your SAT review on your weaknesses.
  3. Consider taking the ACT.  Colleges accept both the SAT and the ACT for admissions purposes.  Most students perform similarly on each test, but some students do much better on the ACT.  The ACT is more straightforward but faster-paced than the SAT.  If you’re wondering whether the ACT would be a good fit for you, read more about it here.
  4. Decide how you’re going to study for the SAT and ACT.  We hope that you’ll tutor with AJ Tutoring for your standardized tests.  We’re proud of our SAT and ACT curriculum and our passionate, professional tutors!  However, even if you don’t work with us, you should have a plan of attack in place.  Students get into trouble when they assume they can manage this test prep thing on their own, and then put off studying until a couple weeks before the test.  The SAT and ACT are NOT cram tests.  Unlike your tests in school, the SAT and ACT don’t require you to store large volumes of information in your short-term memory, only to be forgotten when the test is over.  The SAT and ACT are critical reasoning tests that reward methodical preparation and a strategic approach.
  5. Make progress towards your test prep goal every day.  Whether you want to increase your SAT score by 50 points or 500 points, you’ll only get there through consistent effort.  Goal-achieving gurus (see Jerry Seinfeld, for example) recognize that it’s not short bursts of sporadic effort that help you achieve your goals — it’s making a little progress every day until it becomes a habit.  You don’t need to take a practice SAT every day.  Even doing a few math problems or reviewing 20 vocabulary words will eventually make a difference.  Consider using apps like Habit Streak or Commit to track your progress with a specific test prep goal.

Good luck with achieving your goals in 2014!

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