Whatever level of education you have, you most likely remember taking at least one serious test when you were in school. Chances are you also remember how stressful it was sitting in an exam hall in silence, waiting to be told to begin, knowing you’ll only have a limited time to work through the questions and wondering if you’ll remember anything you studied, how to do basic math or how to spell your own name. If you’re the parent of a teenager who has dreams of college and higher education, there’s a good chance they’re going through the same cycle of study-stress-study now that you did then. It can be tough to know when, how or even if you should ask them how they’re doing, or if they need help. To give you some guidance, we spoke to a couple of pros here in Springfield.
417 Magazine: Is there general advice you’d give to parents of teens getting ready to take their SAT or ACT test?
Krysten Fischer: The exam is not that thing that is going to determine the rest of their life. It’s determining how they're doing in that moment—it's not going to determine the person that they are going to become. The test is designed to help the colleges figure out if your child is ready in that particular moment, it’s not a be-all-end-all to the rest of your life.
417: What are some long term considerations that both parents and the kids sitting the test should think about?
K.F.: You need to start figuring out where you think you might go because some schools require the essay portion, some schools don't. If you take these exams and you only take the four core components, then all of a sudden, you decide you’re going to go to a school that requires the essay section, you have to take the whole thing over again—you can't just sit for the essay. So it's really important, even before you begin to study, before you contact a tutor, you need to know what score you need to have. And whether or not you need to take the fifth component. Another thing would be, when do [colleges] start giving out scholarships? Schools have a number that they want the students to have with regards to being accepted. And then there's another magic number—the number that they start giving out money.
417: What kind of preparation do you think is important on the day of the test?
K.F.: Get up early the day of the exam, eat some breakfast, take a snack with you. If you’re not taking the exam at your school, make sure you know where you’re going, have all your stuff ready [...] Have your I.D. with you so that you're not panicking when you get there and you realize you don't have everything and either you're going to be late and go back to get it or not get to take the test at all.