Are you preparing your students for college entrance exams? Do you know enough about the exams to help your students? I challenge you to start now by making a difference for the future of your students. You do not have to be a high school teacher to start this process. Make up your mind and let’s do this!
Learn more about the SAT/PSAT and ACT. Go to the CollegeBoard website and the ACT website and browse. See what those tests are like. Do you know what topics are covered on those tests? Learn the importance of the PSAT…it’s more than just practice! Do you know the purpose of the ACCUPLACER (or if you are from Texas it’s called the TSI)? The more you know about these tests, the better you will understand how you can help prepare your students.
If you teach 5th grade math, does it matter if you know what is on the math portion of the SAT? I challenge ALL math teachers (elementary, middle school and high school) to take the math portion of the SAT or ACT. If you do not teach math, I challenge you to pick any of the portions of the SAT or ACT and take them…especially if it’s been awhile since you graduated from college! If you are a science teacher, check out the ACT science test. WOW! It’s crazy all the reading involved on that test! Open your eyes to what is on these tests and how they ask questions.
Implement one thing (a topic, a strategy, a visual) that will help your students be successful on college entrance exams. Here are some examples:
1)Pick a topic to focus on and spiral into your lessons every so often.
2)We all have important vocabulary that we cover, but Google SAT vocabulary list and create a word wall with some of these words.
3)Pick a testing strategy like timing your tests.
4)If you teach math, have calculator and non-calculator portions of your tests.
5) Use actual SAT or ACT or ACCUPLACER questions as bell-ringers. If you teach younger grades, simplify them slightly if needed.
6) Show your students how to get on Khan Academy. This site is awesome and has great college entrance practice.
Talk about these tests in class. Start talking about them while the students are young so they know what’s coming and know what to expect. The great thing about this topic is you are starting the conversation about going to college. Some students do not get to have that conversation at home, so the only place they might hear it is from you.
If you teach 9 – 11th graders, encourage your students to go ahead and take the ACCUPLACER or the equivalent in your state. It doesn’t cost much and they can take it as many times as they like. Have them bring the paperwork back to you and you can help them figure out their strengths and weaknesses. In Texas, the students must make a certain grade on the three parts so they do not have to take remedial college math and English classes. My next door neighbor took her 8th grade daughter up to the nearest community college last year and had her take the test. Guess what? She passed all three portions and she hasn’t even taken high school Algebra yet. My school encourages students to take the test when they are ninth graders. Many of them pass the first time, but most do not. This is when I step in and start reviewing them for the next time they take it.
I’ll have to admit, that I did not see the importance of learning as much as I could about these tests until last year. I was given a class full of seniors that had not passed the TSI yet and my job was to help them pass it before the end of the semester. I found very little help online when it came to work that I could give them. I had no choice but to create my own reviews. I had to research the topics and I came up with 7 packets. I offer these in my TpT store. I also bundled all 7 reviews. My son is a senior, so I decided to put his picture on the front of the packet. I have to brag on him, he passed the TSI with flying colors. He is a fast test taker. It only took him an hour and five minutes to take all three portions. It’s an interesting test. If you do not pass the first 2o questions or so, it gives you 4o more to do, so that’s why it takes some students forever to take it.
After most of the students in my class had passed the TSI, I couldn’t let them come to class everyday and do nothing, so I started reviewing for the SAT and ACT. Again, I created my own material. I’m glad I did because now I know so much more about those tests. I plan on making more SAT reviews when I get a chance. I have bundles and individual products. The bundles are seen here:
I basically had to write my own curriculum for a semester. That’s not easy when you are also teaching Algebra II and Pre-Cal. If you are in the same boat and need curriculum for a senior math class, then I’ve bundled all three entrance exam reviews into a MEGA bundle as seen below:
Please take this advice and start familiarizing yourself with these very important tests. See if you can add anything to your routine that might help your students. Be creative in your implementation and don’t reinvent the wheel. I hope I have motivated you to start your “College Ready Research.” Encourage your colleagues to do the same. Send me some of your ideas if you get a chance. Good Luck!