The SAT and ACT are the 2 main tests colleges look at when admitting new students. So how do we prepare our students and when should we start? First, let’s talk about little about what is being tested. These tests are not necessarily testing a student’s specific content knowledge of math or science. Rather, they are reasoning tests. Can the student read information – whether it’s in a word problem or science passage – and answer questions using reading strategies. What is surprising to many students is that the majority of math can be figured out arithmetically; you don’t have to know geometry and trigonometry to answer the questions. Formulas are provided, so the student has to reason through the problems. The questions on the science passages on the SAT are not about the student’s scientific knowledge. The answers are based on how the student reads the passages; all the information necessary for a correct answer is in the passage. What may seem like an exception is the vocabulary used for the sentence completions in the verbal sections of the SAT and ACT. These words are daunting to many students and there is no quick or easy way to learn 1000 words a few weeks before the test. So this is where I recommend ongoing preparation, beginning at least a year in advance. There are many ways to prepare. 1.You can download free flash cards and vocabulary lists off the internet. 2.The SAT website, collegeboards.com, and the ACT website, act.org, have many resources available. 3.There are a series of novels written that use the SAT vocabulary words. Type SAT vocabulary novels in your search line at Amazon or other book stores and several will pop up. 4.You can purchase SAT and ACT prep books which have multiple practice tests and vocabulary lists 5.Always have your student take the PSAT when it’s offered in October their schools The best way to prepare for any test is to consistently do what is expected in the classroom. A traditional curriculum that covers language arts, literature, science and math will prepare a student for these tests. But they should also invest some time prior to the test reviewing test strategies and learning vocabulary. Future articles will answer the questions when should we test, what are the differences between the two tests, how often should we take it, what are the achievement tests and who should take them. If you have other questions as well, please send them to www.goodhabitsgreatgrades.com.