Parents who wish to help their teenage children prepare for every step of the pre-college journey may be flustered by the intimidating tests known as the ACT and SAT. Many parents may be unfamiliar with the range of materials tested on these exams, and many things may have changed since parents took the tests themselves. Still, one of the concrete steps parents can take to help their teens get into college is to improve their test scores.


Focus on Test Scores

Generally, schools offer free tests to practice for the purpose of gauging and improving a student’s score. If a child’s school does not offer this service, free practice SAT and ACT tests can still be found online. You may also contact a local library to see if they have options. The resulting score report details the question types students scored well on as well as the ones that presented the student with challenges. Encourage teens to take the practice versions of both tests. While similar, the tests have differences that can either set the student at a disadvantage or prove beneficial. Compare results to know which test to prepare for; your child will not need to prepare for both.


Create a Plan for Test Preparation

Having decided on a test, parents and teens need to settle on a score that will be a target and a strategy they can use to reach it. Self-directed test preparations from books, self-paced online preparatory courses, and personalized one-on-one tutoring are all options. Parents know better than anyone how their children should approach standardized test preparations. Self-motivated teens will find self-paced prep sufficient, for example. Regardless of strategy, have clear expectations for how students can improve their scores, such as daily practice work.


Knowing a Parent’s Role

While some parents wish to do everything for their children, the reality of ACT and SAT testing is that the teen has to do the actual work and take the tests in order for improvement to occur. Parents can help but should do so in the best way for each particular student. Does the student in question do best with gentle reminders to stay on schedule or with a self-made study plan to follow? Asking questions like this should help parents identify how they can best support their children. Also, parents should familiarize themselves with the modern versions of the tests. The SAT has abandoned its guessing penalty, for instance.