For as long as there have been students, there have been cram sessions and practice tests, midnight study groups…the inevitable meltdown…and back to more cram sessions.  College entrance exams are arguably the most intimidating aspect of the higher education pursuit, but they don’t need to be.  With one simple trick you can take all that pressure off:

Start early.

What do we mean by early?  When it comes to college entrance exams and scholarship awards, the earlier the better (we’re looking at you, sophomore year).  Like compounding interest, time is your friend in the test prep world.  The more of it you give yourself, the exponentially higher your results will be.  No matter when you start your test prep, however, there are a few key factors to making it a stress-free experience:

Give yourself a base line.

Take a practice test, preferably one that is a real test from recent years.  Take it timed and with nothing but what you would be allowed to have during the actual test (i.e. no phones!).  This will be your starting point for all your preparation from here on out.  Do you need help with story problems?  Is your vocabulary up to par?  Create a study plan based off your test results, and don’t forget to keep up with more practice tests along the way so you can continue to gauge your progress.

Find a tutor.

College students are a great resource for this as they’ve recently taken these same tests themselves.  Check with admissions counselors in both your high school as well as your local colleges for lists of student tutors.  Teachers are another good option.

Prep online.

Online test preps, in conjunction with a live tutor, gives you the best of both worlds – face to face interaction and hands on learning, as well as lesson reviews done on your own time and at your own pace.

No matter how you choose to prepare for your college entrance exams and scholarship applications, the more time you give yourself for practice tests and study, the calmer and more focused you’ll be on test day.  Get started today and relax, you got this.

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