As the autumn term gets underway, educators across the country are looking to ensure their students’ success in their classes. But, for high school juniors and seniors, teachers may notice another academic area their students are preoccupied with: test prep. With the SAT/ACT a crucial part of college applications, many students will be nearly as focused on test prep as on their classes! As a teacher, even while you’re concerned about your students’ performance in your class, you’ll want to do everything you can to be a resource and a source of support while your students are prepping for the SAT/ACT. However, it may not be initially obvious what your role is in the test prep process. So what can you do? Here are some tips:
Talk to Your Students!
You can’t know what your students are doing or what kind of help they need unless you ask! Take some time to talk to your students about their college plans, their application processes, and whether they have a test prep plan. Many students will be grateful for someone to talk to, and knowing what they’re working on is the first step to being a source of support for your students.
How Does Your Subject Relate to the SAT/ACT?
While it’s tempting to think of test prep as something distinct and separate from classwork, it isn’t so simple as that. Studying math in a classroom prepares you for the math section as much as doing math section prep in an SAT/ACT prep book. The same goes for English, vocabulary more generally, and, particularly in the case of the ACT, the sciences.
If your subject is relevant to test prep (and most are), be sure to let your students know, and point out areas of particular interest and focus. This can be a great motivating tool, both for their test prep work and their work in your class—making the two symbiotic, rather than in competition with each other.
Be Aware of Test Dates
The SAT/ACT runs on a standardized schedule, and test dates are published well in advance. If you’re teaching juniors and seniors, it can be a good idea to stay on top of these test dates, and be aware of test weeks when you’re planning and scheduling things. While you obviously can’t stop your class based on the SAT/ACT, if possible, avoid scheduling major exams or project due dates at the same time as a test date. This will give your students more time and flexibility to prep, with the additional upside that they’ll be less stressed and more able to focus on major projects and exams for your class!
Offer Support Outside Your Class
Your work as a teacher doesn’t have to be exclusive to the classroom. Consider the ways you can offer support to your students outside your time with them in class. This can be something as simple as making your classroom available for lunchtime review sessions, or keeping a few test prep review books on standby to lend to students who are still just getting their bearings. Even the smallest offers of help can mean a lot to students and let them know that you’re there for them—and sometimes, simply having someone to turn to when they need help is the most important resource they can get.