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A Parent's Guide to ACT Test Day

Hi guys, as you know, your kids have been working hard the past few weeks to get ready for their ACT exam in June and July. The ACT can make for both a stressful and long Saturday for students. Studies consistently show that managing stress is the one of the key factor in students achieving their goal score on test day.

We’ve shared our tips with our students for how to manage stress on test day; however, we also have several suggestions for how parents can help support students as they get ready for the big test.

  1. Don’t ask how they’re feeling about the test.

  2. At this point in the game, our students should feel prepared for what the test will look like on Saturday. We don’t want them to obsess over any sections they’re struggling with or to second-guess their strategies. Keep any test conversation as positive as possible. It’s always great for students to remember that they still have plenty of chances to take the exam. Nothing is riding on just this one exam.

  3. No studying or practice tests on Friday night.

  4. Instead, students should review our Ten Tips For Test Day. Again, the key is for them to not overthink the material.

  5. Friday night = Relaxing, fun activities

  6. Obviously, we don’t want our students staying up all night or doing anything do crazy the night before their test; however, we also don’t want them going to bed too early & obsessing or worrying about test day. If possible, try to have them do something fun with friends or family. Movie nights, watching the Timberwolves game, or going out to eat are great ways to avoid stressing out about the test. They should go to bed at their normal school night time.

  7. Pack a bag

  8. Make sure students pack a bag the night before the test that includes their graphing calculator (check the batteries), several sharpened #2 pencils, their ticket to get into the test, their IDs, a water bottle, and a snack bar.

  9. Make them breakfast

  10. When you’re taking a 3+ hour exam, you need energy. Make sure your students have a good breakfast before they leave for the test. Skip the java and serve them OJ instead. Caffeine just creates nervous energy; whereas, the acidity in OJ actually help students wake up.

  11. Get them moving

  12. Morning is a rough time for everyone -- especially teens. In order to nail their exam, we need our students to both be alert and to get rid of their nervous energy. It will be cold on Saturday morning but it is important that our students get moving. If the body is awake, the mind will follow. A few suggestions: A short walk with the dog, 10-15 minute of stretching or a yoga routine, shooting hoops for a few minutes outside, or even walking up and down the stairs. Again, anything to get them moving.

  13. Dress well, test well

  14. Studies show that students perform the best on tests when they feel confident in how they look. Conversely, test scores routinely go down when students wear baseball caps, hoodies, or sweat pants. They don’t have to wear anything fancy. No suits required! But they should show up to the test feeling confident in how they look. Test centers also vary in terms of temperature. Many of them are either way too hot or way too cold. So it’s a great idea for students to dress in layers.

  15. Be on time but not too early

  16. As someone who is constantly too early for everything, I know this one firsthand: When students arrive too early for the test, they tend to sit in the parking lot stressing out about it. Make sure they get to the test center just a little bit before the doors open.

  17. Plan something fun (and tasty) for after the exam

  18. I know that a lot of our kids have their Sadie Hawkins dance this Saturday. That’s great: It gives them something to help motivate them to push through the exam. My favorite suggestion is promising students their favorite lunch for after they finish the exam.

  19. The only score that matters is their own score

  20. Students love to gossip about what so-and-so scored on the exam. Older siblings love to brag about how their score was so much better. At the end of the day, the only score that matters to each student is their own score. Try to keep them focused on their results and to not worry about how their friends or siblings did.

Let us know if you have any questions or concerns about the test this Saturday. For students with standard time, the scores should start to come back in about 2 weeks. Please send us the scores as soon as you get them and we can discuss the next steps.

Wish your students good luck on test day & I hope you will consider our services if any of your children or their friends need help with standardized testing, school subject tutoring, or the development of study and college readiness skills in the future.

All the best!

Alex Theoharides

Director, Academic Tutoring & Testing


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