4 Tips for Using Your Vacation Wisely to Prep for Winter and Spring SATs, ACTs, and SSATs


Image: "Reading On The Beach", courtesy of hyena reality/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: “Reading On The Beach”, courtesy of hyena reality/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You’ve worked hard this semester—or at least that’s what you’ve told your parents ;-). You deserve a relaxing vacation, and at CPE we wish you a great time skiing, beaching, playing, hanging, reading, vegging, and whatever else you like to do to unwind and recharge your batteries for the second semester.
If you’re facing January and/or February SATs, ACTs, or SSATs (see dates below) and you’re honest with yourself, you know you can have a kick-butt vacation, do all the things you wanna do, and/or spend LOTS of time doing nothing at all, and still carve out a little time each day for test prep. One hour a day, for example, won’t ruin ANYONE’s vacation, but it WILL move you much closer to your post-vacation SAT, ACT, or SSAT goals. Here are some of CPE’s tips to help keep you focused and moving forward during the upcoming vacation:

  1. Make a plan and write it down. Make a decision to do a half-hour or 45 minutes or an hour of work each day. It’s your life so you get to choose. But once you’ve made a decision, put it in writing—a note from yourself to yourself about your vacation goals. Add your commitment to your day planner or electronic calendar or smartphone reminders. All this will help you execute your plan. As a free holiday gift, CPE will email you our Daily to-do checklist for the SAT, the ACT, or the SSAT, just for the asking; it organizes preparation for each exam into alternate days of testing and studying. Send us an email asking for the particular checklist you want, i.e., the exam for which you’re preparing, and we’ll email it right back to you.  You’re welcome :-).
  2. Alternate days of taking tests and studying the specific bodies of material on each exam. Use only the official versions of each test, i.e., the CollegeBoard’s, the ACT’s, and the SSAT’s official test prep materials. If you’re unsure what these are, visit our Books/Links page.
  3. Start by studying the material covered on each exam. If your history teacher gave you a review packet and a couple of practice tests to study for a big history exam, would you just take the practice test and ignore the review packet? ’Course not! A students would study the review packet FIRST, and then use the practice tests to discover strengths and weaknesses.  Same holds true for these standardized tests: being with the material covered on the exam. For the SSAT, that means vocab, analogy types, and math; for the SAT, that means vocab, math, and grammar; for the ACT, that means math and grammar. Similarly, know the appropriate strategies for each exam, e.g., guessing and time-management strategies, and know the tricks for each question type. If you’re not sure what these are, buy the appropriate CPE Prep Pack for $5.99, or purchase one of the much more expensive books available on the market :-). At CPE we can’t stress enough the importance of studying material in addition to taking practice tests.  Most students usually do only the latter. And to help you get organized and pull together some of this material, I’ve assembled below a whole bunch of  excellent vocab lists, prior blog posts, and “Prep Talks” relating to standardized tests. You’re welcome.
  4. Take practice tests and be sure to take them seriously.  Simulate the actual exam experience as best you can. Remember Vince Lombardi’s words: “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”  Time yourself strictly, don’t break up individual sections, use a pencil and the bubble answer sheets, and do them siting in a chair and in silence. Even try to psych yourself up that it counts.

Remember, we’re here to help. Email Info@CollegePrepExpress.com, call 860-519-1000, or sign up for a FREE 15-min phone or Skype consultation. Once again, if you carve out a half hour to an hour a day every day over vacation, you can still have an AWESOME vacation and feel really good about yourself when it’s over because you’ll be that much farther along in the college admissions game. Trust me, you’ll be really glad you did.

Next Test Dates (see CPE’s Test page for a complete calendar):

  • SSAT: 1/5 and 2/2
  • SAT: 1/26
  • ACT: 2/9

CPE Prep Packs (SAT, ACT, SSAT)

Other CPE Blog Posts

“Prep Talks” with CollegePrepExpress

Other FREE and helpful tools


About CollegePrepExpress

The primary purpose of CollegePrepExpress, LLC is to help students get into their top secondary schools, colleges, and graduate schools and to reduce stress surrounding the entire admissions process.

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