A Message to Parents about SAT / ACT Prep

Mother watching daughter studyingAren’t you glad you graduated when colleges didn’t require a “resume”, or scrutinize what you did with every month of your summer vacation? We who attended high school in the 1990s and earlier didn’t face the same time pressures as the kids who will graduate this decade.

At Ivy Bound we want to alleviate the pressure as much as possible. Given that test preparation is important and that it takes time, our method is to ask for a few good months of effort. Treat this work as you would an Honors class, but for JUST ONE SEMESTER. The improved scores that are likely to result relieve the pressure of having to take the SAT or ACT again, defensively. And as you know, improved scores dramatically alter most students’ college admissions prospects and scholarship offers.

We know how busy teens can be. So we try to “create” study time. We encourage students to self-drill vocabulary while flossing and hair drying. We ask students to eschew all but one hour of weekly “FaceBook”ing or Instagramming while they’re taking the course. Parents can help get the obstinate TV watcher on board by TiVo-ing the kid’s top shows for viewing AFTER the SAT/ACT is over.

We certainly don’t want to replace you in the most important job you have, so with humility, but with many years experience on the coaching end, we’ll continue to offer some tips on how to best support your college-bound teenager.

How to be a Great SAT/ACT Parent

Make sure your interest in your child’s success coincides with his or her interest. Make sure your interest in your child’s success coincides with his or her interest. Some unmotivated students may need to hear that “Better colleges have better parties” or “College girls like to hang with boys who are smart”. If your child needs to hear this from SOMEONE ELSE, have him/her join us on a Tuesday Help Line call. We start at 9:15pm eastern (8:15pm for ACT) with a motivational word or two.

Be willing to assist with the drills we give as homework. Some are actually fun. At a minimum please make sure your child is cognizant of the words we send each day, and the “Game Plan” in the back of the Ivy Bound binder, which our students add to following each practice test they do.
Encourage your child’s friend to attend the Extra Help sessions with your child. Though we offer these free of charge, we find them to be under-attended, potentially because of a perceived stigma.

View the student’s own report of practice test scores and Home Study Progress. These are the front pages in our binders. Ideally, student shows parent prior to turning in the assignment, but in the case of a reluctant student, a little spying might be warranted.

Don’t exclusively rely on the school’s guidance counselor. The majority of public schools have decent guidance counselors who help fairly effectively. Since some do not, we urge you to see what your kids’ friends who might be in parochial or college prep schools are doing. If you feel your son or daughter needs better guidance in the college admissions area, consider an independent consultant. (We can refer a few).

Put the mindset into your student that s/he will take the SAT THREE TIMES following tutoring. This will span four months. But we try to get all the tutoring in prior to the FIRST SAT. That gives students a chance of being DONE after the first. “One-and-done” is a great accomplishment. If ACT is your choice, then it will be THREE ACTs following tutoring.

Read our E-mails! Short of a scheduled consultation, Ivy Bound emails are the best way we can inform you about the SAT, the ACT, and the College Admissions process. We put all parent-oriented messages IN CAPITAL LETTERS so you can discern them from the vocabulary lists. Vocabulary prowess is NOT required for ACT success (that’s an SAT requisite), but we put most of you on the receiving list anyways. If you are not getting regular e-mails with vocabulary and want them 6 days a week, you can request it of your Ivy Bound parent coordinator. If a high priority this year is to help propel your child to her/his Top Choice college, then our CAPITALIZED parent E-mails may be the most important literature you read this year.