Many students go into summer vacation intending to spend at least a little time preparing for the SAT or ACT exams they will take in the fall. However, it is easy for these intentions to fall by the wayside, and as parents and teachers both know, kids lose valuable academic ground over the summer months if they aren’t focused on retaining and building on the knowledge and skills gained during the school year.
Fortunately, there are several easy strategies that can help students keep their minds sharp for these college entrance exams. Providing them with a game plan that includes these three easy activities will encourage students to stay sharp over the summer and to hit the ground running in the fall.
Summer Mission #1: Read a Book
The best way for a student to boost his or her vocabulary over the summer is to read a book. There are even specialized SAT vocabulary books that weave vocabulary from novels or plays into the practices, or you can pick a high-interest book that won’t feel like “homework” and recommend that your students read it. Suggest that they pick out 5 to 10 unfamiliar words per chapter, find their definitions online or in a dictionary, and commit them to memory. Using one word a day in conversation is a painless way for students to make a new word their own.
Summer Mission #2: Review Basic Math Concepts
Though the SAT and ACT do cover some complex math concepts, reviewing the basics will keep your students prepared to tackle the more difficult concepts once they come back for the school year. There are four main areas of math that each student should review: numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, and statistics. Suggest that students spend a couple hours each week reviewing the concepts. Provide them with a few simple activities and remind them that this is a “prep course” that is designed to get them ready for admission to the college of their choice rather than an attempt to burden them with schoolwork during the summer.
Summer Mission #3: Review Test Protocol
The testing protocols for the SAT and ACT are very specific, and in that sense, both exams are “coachable.” It is extremely important for students to be well-versed in the format and requirements for each section of the test they will be taking. Provide your students with an outline of how each section is formatted and what they can expect. If they know what question structure to expect, they will have more confidence during the actual exam. They will be able to use time more efficiently by spending less of it reading and understanding the instructions and more of it working on the questions.
Though there are many ways to prepare your students for standardized tests, suggesting these three basic activities will keep them sharp over the long summer break. You can add your own summer missions to better fit the needs of your students. The most important thing is to give them some tools that will help them succeed.
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