SAT/ACT Prep: Benefits of Summer Study Sessions

School may be out for the summer, but many rising juniors already have the SATs and ACTs on their mind. Now can be a great time to start preparing to take these exams at the end of summer or in the fall. Students can keep the momentum going from the past school year and reinforce what they have learned as they study for these exams. Opting for summer study sessions can have some benefits:

Increased flexibility.

During the school year, students were often limited in the amount of time they had to prepare. Study sessions and test prep were worked in after school or practice, around jobs, or on the weekend. With many sports over for the season and school out, students have a lot more flexibility. They can spread their studying out and pick a time that works best for them. Perhaps they are most alert and ready to learn in the morning, or maybe afternoon is ideal.

Plus, students can choose from in-person or online preparation programs. If virtual learning worked well for them, they can get one-on-one instruction online and get help no matter where they may be. Preparation can be done at home, the library, a grandparent’s house, or anywhere else that has a strong Internet connection. If they prefer to be more hands-on and tend to do better with in-person instruction, that’s an option as well. Students can choose what works for their learning style and schedule.

Concentrated effort.

Rather than working on multiple subjects every day, students can focus on one area at a time. They aren’t trying to balance studying, homework, and exams with also preparing for the SAT or ACT. Their attention can be devoted to this one task. Plus, they can go at their own pace and spend more time working on topics they may be struggling with and less time on those they already know.

Fewer distractions.

A lot of students have fewer obligations over the summer and less rigid schedules. This means they can plan out their SAT/ACT prep over the weeks leading up to the test rather than cramming in study sessions when they have a night off. They can work around other commitments because they have more free time and flexibility in scheduling their test prep. This can make the process less stressful.

Pace yourself.

Look ahead to when you want to take the SAT or ACT. Each exam is offered seven times per year. By starting your test prep over the summer, you can take the exam in the early fall and still have time to retest again later in the fall, over the winter, or even in the spring if you need to. If you decide to retake the test, you’re not starting from scratch – just reinforcing what you’ve already been working on in order to improve your score.

Crafting Scholars offers testing to help students decide whether they are better suited for the SAT or ACT, then creates a custom curriculum aligned with their strengths and areas of need. Students can feel more confident that they know what to expect and are equipped with strategies and knowledge to help them demonstrate their abilities. It’s not too early to start preparing for the future. Contact Crafting Scholars to learn more about our SAT and ACT prep programs.


How Struggling Can Help Students Succeed

Not every subject comes naturally to every student. There are certain topics some students find more challenging than others. Not getting a perfect score can be upsetting, but it can also be a learning experience. Children can take these struggles and use them to become better students.

It is important to praise effort over results. Focus on how hard your child worked and their dedication to doing their best. Celebrate good grades, but also improvements in their grades. Everyone has an off day, and expecting perfection with everything is not realistic and can put undue stress on your child. Struggling can help them be more successful in the long run.

They discover that there are different ways to solve problems and learn information. Your child may need to try several strategies for note-taking or studying before they find what works best for them. They may use different methods for different subjects. This helps them to see that there is not only one way to do something or to get the right answer.

It can improve their time management. Did they score poorly on a test because they did not spend enough time studying? Did they wait until the last minute and try to cram? Work with your child to problem solve and brainstorm things they can do differently in the future. This includes planning ahead and starting to study earlier, or prioritizing finishing their project over playing video games.

It can boost their confidence. Initially, their self-esteem may take a hit, but as they continue to work hard and their grades improve, they can see the results of their efforts. They realize that they can do well if they take good notes, follow directions, ask questions, spend time studying, and apply the strategies they have learned. Keep a folder of work that shows their successes and reminds them that they can do it.

It can encourage goal setting. Getting a poor grade can motivate your child to set goals for what they want to achieve. Maybe on the next test they want to score at least 5 points better, or spend 20 minutes a day studying. Perhaps they want to read 15 pages of their book each night, or write 3 paragraphs of their essay. Help them to set realistic goals that can facilitate better results.

They learn to ask for help. If there is something they don’t understand, asking for help can clear up confusion and empower them to be more successful moving forward. Parents can be role models by asking for help themselves and showing kids that there is nothing wrong with not knowing how to do something. Their teachers want to help them, and want to see them do well.

If your child is struggling and becoming frustrated, tutoring can be a great way to get them the one-on-one help they need. At Crafting Scholars, each child’s strengths, areas of need, and learning style are evaluated to create a customized curriculum. They receive focused attention on skills, strategies, and concepts that will help them now and in the future. Contact Crafting Scholars to create a plan tailored to your child’s needs and goals.


Tips for Tackling Test Anxiety

Feeling nervous before a test is normal. You don’t know exactly what questions will be asked, or how you will do. Many people calm down once the exam starts and they see the material. But when you are too anxious and have a hard time quieting your mind, it can affect your performance and your ability to show your best work. Even when you know the answers, it can be difficult to focus.

Implementing strategies for managing test anxiety can help you feel calmer and more in control come test day. Figure out what works best for you.

Before the Exam

When you find out that you have an exam coming up, begin creating a study plan. Starting early allows you to review material thoroughly and commit more information to memory. You can spend more time on topics you find difficult rather than studying things you already know. Getting a head start can also prevent you from feeling the need to cram the night before. By the time test day arrives, you can feel prepared.

Set expectations for yourself as well. Remind yourself that it is okay if you do not get a perfect score. Even if you miss a few answers, you can still earn a good grade. Aiming high can be motivating, but in some cases, it can also put unnecessary stress on you if that is all you are focused on.

Get a good night’s sleep starting several days before the test so you are well-rested. Give your brain and body a chance to relax and recharge. Showing up to the exam exhausted can increase the amount of stress you feel and keep you from thinking clearly.

The Day of the Exam

Start off by fueling your body up with a nutritious and filling breakfast. Eat a combination of complex carbs, lean protein, and fiber. Don’t forget to drink some water as well.

Avoid the temptation to cram right before the test. Remind yourself that you are prepared, and you know what you know. Stressing yourself out trying to get in those last few facts likely won’t help. Whenever you feel your nerves kicking in, repeat a positive mantra to yourself such as, “I can do this,” “I will do my best,” or “I am prepared.”

Remember to read each question carefully so you know what you are trying to answer. If a question is too hard, skip it and come back later. Boost your confidence by answering the questions you do know, then going back and working on the ones that are more difficult. That way, you won’t miss out on points for easy questions you knew but didn’t get to because you were stuck on a harder problem.

Keep your anxiety in check by taking a pause for a few deep breaths. Sit up straight, relax your shoulders, and breathe in and out. Focus on your work rather than looking around to see if others are finished or what they are doing.

Boost Your Test-Taking Skills

A lot of students do well in class but have trouble on the exam. Crafting Scholars can work with you to develop effective study skills and test-taking strategies to help you feel less anxious. We create a personalized plan aligned with your needs and learning style. Contact us today to get started!


Helping Kids Bounce Back After a Pandemic-Fueled School Year

Students (and parents) were forced to be incredibly flexible and adaptable this year. Many schools shifted between remote, hybrid, and in-person instruction. A lot of students spent a great deal of time on Zoom or other virtual conferencing platforms and completing work online. There were many disruptions and uncertainties.

But now that summer is here, it’s time to support kids in resetting and gearing up for next school year.

Take a Break from Screens

Make it a point to spend time each day without technology or screens. Give your child’s eyes a break. Have the whole family devote at least 30 minutes a day to reading, but don’t get too caught up on what they’re reading or what level it is. Let them choose books (or even comics) that they find interesting so they will want to pick them up and keep reading.

Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Go for a hike at a nature preserve or state park. See how many different plants or animals you can find. Look them up in a nature guide for more information. Physical activity is good for their body and mind – especially after spending hours sitting at a desk.

Be Hands-On

Ignite your child’s creativity and encourage them to build and create with their hands. Draw pictures, make models, design new toys or games, or do at-home science experiments. Students spent a lot of time watching videos and doing digital assignments, so let them be hands-on over the summer. Let them be bored and figure out a way to (safely) keep themselves entertained instead of scheduling every minute of the day.

Get Away

Have your kids help you plan a trip, even if it’s just for the day. Let them research places they want to go and things they want to do. You can even sneak in some learning by having them figure out the route to get there or a budget. There are tons of museums and historical sites that can be a lot of fun to explore. A change of scenery and a break from being at home can help them recharge.

Focus on the Positives

This year came with its share of challenges. While some students thrived with remote learning, others struggled. Praise them for being adaptable and doing their best. Talk about things that went really well and obstacles they were able to overcome. Reassure them that the past year will not make or break their future, and they learned more than they realize.

Reinforce Learning

Ask your child how they feel about their classes from the past year. Were there topics they feel they didn’t really understand? Are there areas they wish they did better in? Take a look at their grades as well to see how they performed. Also consider the classes they are signed up for next year and see if there are any they are concerned about.

Consider enrolling them in a summer tutoring program to focus on closing any gaps and boosting their skills. Crafting Scholars offers diagnostic tests in a variety of subjects to assess learning, then builds custom curriculums to target the areas where your child needs the most help. Help them feel more confident and prepared for the upcoming school year. Contact us today to learn more and sign up!


Strategies for More Effective Note Taking

In virtually every class you take, you are expected to write down notes about what is being taught. These notes become a handy reference sheet for when you are studying later. But they are only useful if you have the right information and understand how to use it. A lot of students get tripped up trying to copy down every word that is said, but that isn’t necessary when you have more effective note taking strategies you can use.

Focus on Key Points

You don’t have to scribble down every single detail. Pay attention to information that your teacher emphasizes or repeats more than once. Listen for cues that something is important such as, “The three ways …” or “The reason why …” or “As a result …” etc. Other facts including people, places, dates, events, and key terms are often worth putting in your notes as well. Once you know the major points, you can go back and fill in more details later.

Leave Space

If your teacher starts out by summarizing four topics you are going to cover, write down each one in your notes, but leave space between them so you can add information during the discussion. If you use colored pens or highlighters, assign each topic a different color so you can differentiate between them when writing notes.

Use the Margins

Keep the content of your notes in the main body of the paper, but use the margins to draw asterisks or arrows to important facts you want to emphasize. Jot down the main question next to the spot in your notes where you can find the answer. It can also be helpful to write down a quick summary of what your notes are about at the top of the page – and add page numbers to keep everything in order!

Draw Pictures

Sketch a quick picture or diagram to help you keep information organized or understand how processes work. If you are a visual person, it might help to map out concepts. Start with one bubble that has the main point, then build out from that with supporting details or related concepts. You can see visually how the information is connected.

Write by Hand

Studies have shown that taking notes by hand rather than using your computer can improve understanding and retention. It’s okay to use your computer as a resource to find more details or look something up, but write your notes by hand, as this helps with the formation of short-term memories. In addition, it gives you a physical document to hold and study no matter where you are. Writing also helps you to focus and pay more attention to what is being said.

Rewrite Your Notes

After school, sit down and rewrite your notes from the day. It is a great way to review the information while it is still fresh in your mind, plus you can clarify what you wrote during class and add additional details. Choose a note-taking format that fits your learning style, such as the Cornell method, an outline, or a visual. The true learning comes as you recopy your notes in a format that will help you study and facilitate the creation of short-term memories. These memories are reinforced as you review in ways other than simply reading the notes.

As your note-taking skills improve, the goal is to eventually be able to use this executive functioning to organize and format your notes while listening to someone speak or having them write the information on the board. Crafting Scholars supports student in uncovering which strategies and formats work best for them, then fostering these skills.

If you are struggling with staying organized, taking meaningful notes, and studying effectively, the team at Crafting Scholars can help. We offer programs to boost organizational skills and prepare for exams in addition to providing support with subject content. Contact us today to sign up!