Maximize Test Prep This Vacation (with Minimal Work)

Attention Juniors: I know you are stressed from the last several months of school. You are ready for a break. And the last thing you want to do is study over Christmas vacation.

But if want to open up opportunities for college admissions and merit-based aid, you may want to spend a little time preparing for the SAT or ACT. Just a little.


So while you get lost of rest and relaxation this vacation, try this simple eight-day plan that only takes about eight hours in total in order to maximize your test prep over Christmas break with minimal work:


Day 1: Find your goal score. Look up 3-4 schools you are interested in and find out their testing policies and, assuming they are test-optional or require a test, what SAT or ACT score you need. Determining this score is the first step in understanding what you need to do. Estimated time: 15-20 minutes.


Day 2: Take a practice test. Download a practice SAT or ACT directly from the respective websites and print it out. In one sitting, to take the entire test cover to cover per the exact instructions and timing. Estimated time: 3 hours.


Day 3: Score the test. Using the instructions from the test websites, score your test. Calculate your scaled score according to the instructions and compare it to your goal score from the Day 1 activity. Figure out the incremental number of correct answers you need to achieve your goal score for your next test sitting. Estimated time: 1 hour.


Day 4: Identify your weaknesses. Review the practice test and document each question you missed and why you missed it. Review your results and see if there are any themes. Try and uncover your weaknesses, like vocabulary-in-context questions in reading or word problems in math. Estimated time: 1 hour.


Days 5-7: Attack weaknesses. Research how to get better at your weaknesses. Find a vocabulary list to study. Look up math content on Khan Academy. Practice reading passages. Get better at those things that are weakest. Estimated time: 30 minutes/day or 1.5 hours in total.


Day 8: Register for the real test. Check your calendar and find the test day most convenient, as in the least stressful time, for your to take the test. Estimated time: 30 minutes.


If you follow this eight-day plan, you will be armed with the data from a practice test, a goal score and an idea of things you can work on. Ultimately, this plan will maximize your test preparation over Christmas break with minimal work.


It's not a complicated plan and if you do all of the steps, your total time investment would be roughly eight hours. Not bad, right? I know you can carve out just eight hours in a two-week vacation. It will be worth it.


And if you want, sign up for CROSSWALK's Winter Test Prep series starting in February. If you execute this vacation plan AND take CROSSWALK's six-week course, you will be on your way to maximizing your test score to increase your chances for college admission and merit-based aid.

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