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High school students who play sports for one or more seasons throughout the school year face additional hurdles when prepping for a college entrance exam.
Yet, student athletes are often very organized, productive, and disciplined when it comes to time management, and therefore respond well to a structured timeline and plan. The key is a personalized approach.
Some students will thrive with a compact, intensive test prep program during an off season, while others succeed better if test preparation is extended over a longer stretch of time, overlapping with the sports season.
Here’s the play by play on how students who are on in-school or club sports teams can knock test prep out of the park.
Plan in Advance
During sophomore year, think about which sports you intend to play during junior and senior years and what months will be your busiest in terms of practice and games. Try to do the heavy lifting of test prep in the season beforehand.
The goal is to reduce pressure and stress associated with test prep and test-taking given the student’s outside obligations.
Take proctored practice exams on Saturdays and Sundays on days that you don’t have a game, and be sure to keep your grades up while focusing on your sport and test prep.
- If you play basketball in winter, start test prep in September, continue tutoring and practice tests throughout the fall and focus on taking the real test by December.
- If you play volleyball in the fall, you may want to hold off on starting test prep until the end of October, start tutoring towards the end of the season, and plan for the April test.
Keep in mind that the summer is a good time to start writing college essay drafts to reduce the purpose during fall of senior year.
Know You’re in Familiar Territory
While they may appear to have nothing to do with each other, test prep is actually very much like sports.
The job of an athlete is to improve and maintain three key areas of performance:
- Fitness | Skills | Mindset
To perform well on an exam, students must address:
- Academic Fundamentals | Strategies | Mental Preparation
In fact, many test prep strategies relate to breathing, focus, and the mind-body connection, all of which are essential for athletes to perform at their best in a game.
Take Your Cues from the Field
Show Up to Practice — Like drills on the field, practice tests and test prep homework can help hone skills that you will use on game day. If you are doing a test prep class or working with a tutor, try to not to skip sessions and always be prepared with materials.
Practice How You Play — Do homework at home in a quiet setting, concentrating as fully as possible, using your pacing watch, calculator, pencils, etc., emulating the real experience of test day as much as possible.
Get help from an (academic) coach. Test prep educators provide support and guidance in the form of motivation, strategy, technique, execution, and learning how to stay calm under pressure.