How to Prep for a Summer Exam

Can you believe it's already June? AP exams have finished, finals are winding down, and summer vacation is either here or peeking over the horizon. For students, summer is a time of fun and well-earned relaxation. However, if you’re planning to take your SAT/ACT in June, July, or August, and you have summer vacation plans, you may be wondering how to juggle both, not to mention working on your application documents and extracurriculars. Here are some helpful insights for how to work hard and play hard as you get ready for your summer exam.

  1. Know your schedule. 

Sometimes travel plans change, but the more detailed information you have about your summer vacations, the easier it will be to plan your preparation around them. So, know the basics–when do you leave? How long will you be gone? What will your day to day look like? Will you have down time for studying/practice? Once you know these facts, you can plan around them.

  1. Develop a routine.

Like sleeping, writing, and exercising, studying is done best on a regular schedule. Outside of vacations, other activities, such as internships, research opportunities, part time jobs, etc., will take up a considerable amount of your time. If the routine has to change due to a new activity in your summer, that’s fine, but plan out what the change looks like and then stick to your plan.

  1. Be intentional.

Nothing is scarier than the desperation of vague intentions. Planning to spend 30 minutes to ‘study for the ACT’ is like spending 30 minutes trying to write a story about the meaning of life. Not tackling the specifics means your improvement will stagnate. Worse, trying to prepare for the test all at once can feel overwhelming. So, give each study/review session specific goals. Vague is “I’m going to study grammar.” Specific is “I’m going to review the differences between semicolons and colons and then complete practice problems involving them.” Then, as you finish up the current study session, write what you plan to improve during your next one and when you’ll do it. Reflect on what the study session was like; if, for instance, you didn’t do your best because you slept poorly the night before, it may simply mean you need to go to bed earlier before your next session. Create the conditions that optimize your studying.

  1. Enjoy your time off!

Seems simple, but many students forget this step. Just as you plan your study sessions, plan fun activities to destress from all of your summer responsibilities. Exercise, play sports, read books, watch movies, listen to podcasts, chat with friends–something low stakes that gets your mind off test prep so that when you return to it, you feel focused, refreshed, and energized.

Looking for more guidance in mapping your road to the SAT/ACT? Learn more about our test prep services here!

Ari McGuirk

Division Supervisor of Test Prep

University of New Mexico, MFA

Pennsylvania State University, BA

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