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Prepping for College

It's never too early to start thinking about what your teenager needs to do to prepare for college. Some questions you might ponder when selecting a school include:

  • public or private?
  • in state or out of state?
  • dorm housing, apartment living or live at home?
  • who foots the bill?

It's easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when you browse through college applications and talk with recruiters. College representatives want to know about your teen's grades, class rank, extracurricular activities and SAT or ACT score. Most colleges and universities require applicants to take one of these college entrance exams.

One function of the SAT and ACT tests is to level the playing field. Grades can sometimes be subjective and the degree of difficulty in courses can vary. SAT and ACT tests help to measure what your teen has learned over the course of several years of schooling. These tests are a good indicator of whether or not a student is ready for college-level work.

When should my teen take the exam?

Typically, parents begin to look at college preparation during their teen's junior year of high school. This is a good time for your teen to take the SAT or ACT. If the results of the first exam aren't good or your teen believes he or she can do better, there is plenty of time to take the exam again.

Which exam should my teen take?

Basically, the decision is up to you. However, you may want to consult with your child's guidance counselor to learn which test is preferred by the colleges or universities your teen is interested in attending. Most schools in the United States accept both.

How can my teen prepare for the exams?

One of the best options is to take a pre-test:

  • Take practice tests. Test-takers must answer a certain number of questions in a specified amount of time. Taking a practice test in a simulated test environment allows your teen to gain valuable experience in working under time constraints.
  • Know what is expected.  By taking a practice exam, your teen will become familiar with the style of questions he or she can expect on the exam. In addition, your teen will see how various questions are presented and phrased. The sample questions also provide an idea of the material that will be covered.
  • Review subject material. Now isn't the time for your teen to cram all sorts of new information into his or her head. Instead, have him or her review notes from past coursework and brush up on areas that may have been forgotten.

College is a huge endeavor for any teen. The more support and encouragement you can provide throughout his or her teen years, the better connected your teen will be when it comes to deciding on a school and starting classes.