Tips for Motivating Your Child to Start Studying for the ACT/SAT

The SAT and ACT tests are important pieces of the college application puzzle. Even “test optional” schools will consider scores, if submitted, meaning less weight (and pressure) on the other parts of the application (like GPA and essay). There are colleges that do not use these tests as part of their application process, but it is an extremely small group. The bottom line is that to have all options open to your child, they need to take one of these standardized tests. So how do you reduce the fear these tests can instill and generate motivation to take them? Consider these tips:

  • Muster the Motivation

    Helping your child identify and focus on where they want to be after high school can be surprisingly motivating for them. Kids take the SAT and ACT because they’re told they have to (which isn’t motivating at all) – consider a new way to present these tests: they are actually your child’s ticket to their next big adventure! Plain and simple, the better the test score, the more possibilities they have. And who doesn’t like possibilities?

  • Dissipate “Test Dread”

    The bigger something seems, the more ominous it becomes, and these tests can be intimidating. The best way to reduce test anxiety is to dive into preparation. As your child gains an awareness and understanding of the test pieces and parts, these “big tests” become very manageable.

  • Make the Time for Test Prep

    Life is busy and will only get busier – the sooner you can help your child create a study plan for the test, the better. Work test prep into their current homework schedule so that it becomes a part of their daily routine rather than something extra. And there is a payoff for all this work: they’ll have time to enjoy senior year activities free and clear once they complete this challenge.

  • Alleviate the Aggravation Test Prep Can Bring

    The dynamic between parent and child can go from zero to 60 in record time during SAT/ACT time. One of the best things you can do for yourself and your child is to get off their test-prep track by using a reputable prep service or program to get them the help they need. Proper preparation dramatically improves your child’s chances for higher test scores, and the potential of scoring even bigger with merit-based scholarships and other financial aid opportunities.

Making the SAT/ACT more of a positive event will go a long way toward motivating your child to study and prepare – and the reward is worth it.

About the Author

Tracey Clark is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of Elevate the Everyday: A Photographic Guide to Picturing Motherhood and Expressive Photography: A Shutter Sisters Guide to Shooting From the HeartShe is the founder of Shutter Sisters and The Picture Series, a collection of photo-centric creativity classes. Best of all, she’s mother to two amazing daughters (ages 14 & 20) who inspire her daily.