5 Ways You Can Help Your Teen Overcome SAT Pressure
Your child will be taking the dreaded SAT before you know it. And while she may be on edge, one of your responsibilities is ensure that her stress doesn’t get the better of her. Read on to learn how you can help your child maintain balance during this stressful time and keep her anxiety in check.
Encourage Your Child to Start Studying Early
The earlier your student starts studying, the better. That way, your child will become familiar with the test and get plenty of practice. She’ll develop strategies for approaching difficult problems and identify weak areas on which to focus.
Your child should take an initial practice test, and then, together, you can figure out a target score. Help her be ambitious but realistic. For instance, if her initial scores are in the 500 range, it’s going to be difficult to get to the high 700s. A more realistic target might be the high 600s.
Starting early also gives her a chance to retake the test, if she’s not happy with her initial scores. Check out Got a Low SAT Score? Here’s What You Should Do for advice on honing your student’s test-taking strategy and improving her scores.
Decide together when she’ll first take the task, factoring in whether she might want or need to retake it, when it’s available, and how far along she will be in her schoolwork. Recognize that if she takes it early, say sophomore year, she won’t have had as much preparation or learned everything she might need to know for the test, which will probably be reflected in her scores.
Read When Is the Best Time to Take the SAT? for advice on picking an appropriate date. Then, you can build a studying schedule around this date. That way, your student will have a play and feel less pressure as the test date gets closer, since she’ll have plenty of time to start working toward that goal.
Pay Attention to Health and Wellness
Some students try to do it all. Pay attention to whether your teen seems overly stressed or overwhelmed, between studying for the SAT, doing her schoolwork, and balancing extracurriculars and other commitments.
Encourage her to put the test in perspective, and step in if she seems overly stressed. Make sure she’s focusing on her health and wellness in addition to studying. For example, she also needs to be eating right and exercising. Read Parents: 4 Ways to Help Your Teen Manage High School Stress for tips on making your student’s health a priority.
Remind your student that this isn’t just important for her overall well-being, but will help her focus on studying and ultimately do better on the test. Remember: Your student’s brain won’t be functioning at its peak if she’s not physically and mentally well.
It’s especially important to eat a nutritious breakfast on the day of the test—and at all times— to ensure she does her very best.
Review Tips and Strategies
If your teen has strategies at her disposal, she’ll feel and be more prepared. Suggest creative strategies for studying, so your teen is having some fun practicing and not just stressing the whole time. For instance, you might suggest that she study with friends or use apps. For more strategies, check out Parents: Here’s How You Can Motivate Your Child to Study for the SAT.
Also, focus on strategies with which you can help. For instance, you might proctor and grade a practice test or quiz your child on vocabulary.
Consider the ACT
Encourage your teen to take both the SAT and ACT. The tests are similar but have some notable differences. For instance, ACT has a Science section, so if your child excels at data analysis, it might be better for her skillset. Learn more about key differences between the tests in The SAT vs. the ACT: Everything You Need to Know.
The writing sections differ considerably, too. In the SAT, your student will analyze an argument from the passage. In the ACT, she will develop her own argument.
If she takes both tests, it ups her odds of getting a score she wants on at least one of them and may give her more peace of mind.
Engage a Tutor
A tutor provides another measure of support. Since tutors are usually closer to high school age themselves, they may have tools and tricks you haven’t considered, because they took the test more recently.
This gives your child another resource, so she knows she has plenty of guidance. It can also help her improve her abilities and achieve her goals. At CollegeVine, our near-peer tutors achieved top scores on their standardized tests and employ strategies to help your child do the same.
A Final Word
SAT prep is important, but you should also remind your child that this test won’t make or break her entire future. Helping her hone her skills, prepare, and keep her head above water can prevent your student from letting the test get the better of her.
For more tips on helping your child prepare for the SAT, check out Parents: Here’s How You Can Motivate Your Child to Study for the SAT.
Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.
Does your teen want access to expert college guidance — for free? When they create their free CollegeVine account, they will find out their real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve their profile, and get their questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Encourage them to sign up for their CollegeVine account today to get a boost on their college journey.
Want more SAT tips sent to you?
Sign up below and we'll send you expert SAT tips and guides.