I may have 15 years until my kids go away to college, but  I know some of you only  have a few years before then.  I was able to speak with Colin Gruenwald from Kaplan Test Prep about getting your kids ready for college. Colin is an SAT/ACT faculty manager and veteran instructor, and he had a wealth of information to share.

College prep work and testing can begin as early as sophomore year, which is when most students take the PSAT and NMSQT (National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test) tests. The test is 2 hours and 10 minutes long and divided into 5 sections testing your skills in Math, Critical Reading, and Writing. Each section on the PSAT has a scaled score from 20-80 points. The PSAT is a great foundation for what to expect during the ACT and SAT in junior year.

Colin told me that the ACT and SAT covers material that students have covered by the end of sophomore year.  However, it is important to remember that these tests are not intelligence tests, and students should be prepared to take them. The worst mistake a student can make is to walk into the test without having taken a practice(or several) test.  Another common mistake that students make is when they do not revisit the mistakes they have made on a practice test. Kaplan will go over the practice test with students and help them realize why they are getting certain questions wrong.  This will help your student succeed on the ACT and SAT.

Kaplan offers a variety of prep classes for students. There are field classes (which you can search for on Kaplan’s website) and online programs. All of the courses are interactive and engaging for the students.  Another goal for these classes is to help students realize what their goals for college are.  Kaplan does not just help students prep for their test, it also helps them prepare for the entire college experience. They can help you from the beginning of your freshman year of high school all the way until graduation day.

Colin also offered some important advice for parents, apply for the FAFSA in January.  It is handled on a first come first serve basis, so it is extremely important to start filling out this paperwork. You do not have to wait until your student has picked a school, or has taken the ACT/SAT  to begin looking for financial aid.  Colin also suggests that parents take an active role in helping their children look for a school, by helping organize the search. Keeping an open dialogue with your child will help them achieve their goals.

Thank to Colin for taking the time out to help with this! Be sure to visit Kaplan’s website for even more information on getting your student ready!