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Test Preparation in Middle School

What do you do to prepare for the SAT and ACT when your child is in middle school? Read these 7 ways to effectively prepare for the SAT and ACT before high school.

Test Preparations in Middle School @TheHomeScholar

The best test prep in middle school is making sure you do a good job with reading, writing, penmanship, and math. Also, providing practice with fill in the bubble tests can ensure that they will be successful on standardized tests.  While things like critical thinking and logic are generally nice to have, they are not specific for test preparation.

Specific test preparation for the SAT and ACT means getting to know the test, and practicing with real test questions. The test covers a lot of algebra 1 and geometry. For that reason, I don't recommend specific test preparation in the area of math until the child has completed geometry OR is in 10th or 11th grade. If you start practicing with real math test questions prior to that, then you are giving your child a test that you KNOW they can't do well in - setting them up for failure. That can actually cause test anxiety, and actually decrease the test scores for the SAT or ACT.

Test Preparations in Middle School @TheHomeScholar

When your child is in 6th - 9th grade, here is what I suggest for SAT and ACT preparation.

  1. Take yearly assessments. Each year, have the child take a grade-level, timed, annual assessment - something like the CAT, Iowa Basic, ITBS, or other standardized grade level test. Have them take that test with a group of students, so they learn to fill in bubble tests in time situations with people they don't know, in a way they can be successful in the test. Just once per year is plenty.
  2. Encourage reading real books. A literature-rich curriculum can dramatically increase reading and writing skills. Reading brief excerpts of books, or literary analysis, or reading teacher-written school books just isn't the same as reading a high quality literature. The flow of the language, and the word choice, is just so much better in real literature. That's one reason I chose Sonlight Curriculum for my children.
  3. Practice penmanship. The SAT and ACT have a hand-written essay option. While the style of cursive doesn't matter, the ability to write quickly and legibly matters a lot. So practice handwriting daily. It's OK for the child to develop their own unique penmanship style as long as it is legible.
  4. Practice writing. The SAT and ACT have an optional essay, but many colleges require the optional essay, so pretend it's not optional, for now. Teach writing, so that your child has experience writing on an almost daily basis, with a good grasp of the fundamentals for creating a good paragraph, and then a good 5 paragraph essay. You can practice short essays with these books.

    Writing Down the Days: 365 Creative Journaling Ideas for Young People
  5. Study vocabulary. You can do that with the usual workbooks, like Wordly Wise, or you can add vocabulary games.
    Rummy Roots
    More Rummy Root
    Scrabble Deluxe Edition Game
  6. Consider taking Latin. Studying Latin is more than just a foreign language. It can dramatically increase vocabulary, and logic, plus it's a great foreign language credit you can put on the high school transcript, even if your child does it in middle school.
    Latin Road- A Good Curriculum Choice
    Early High School Credits Earned in Middle School
  7. Work on math. The best test prep in math is to make sure you are doing math every year, and that they understand the math they are learning as they go along. The worst way to prepare for math on the tests is to force your child ahead too fast. If they don't understand the basic concepts, they can't score well on the SAT or ACT. Some children are pretty advanced in math. For them, it will be important to do some math review, when they begin test preparation for the actual ACT or SAT. If they are already in pre-calculus or higher when they begin to prepare, they will need to review algebra 1 and geometry to score well. Because of the spiral-review of Saxon math, it does an excellent job of preparing children for the big tests. At the same time, it doesn't matter if Saxon is the best test preparation, if your children don't learn from that curriculum. So choosing a curriculum that fits them is more important than choosing Saxon.

What would you add to this list?

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