Studying for standardized tests can be extremely trying on teenagers. Not only is it tricky to factor in the time to study on top of activities and schoolwork, but teens face the pressures of trying to ace the exam to strengthen their academic profile! So, where do you begin when planning your study schedule? How do you decide which test is best for you? Or is it no test at all? And most importantly, how can you approach this process with a positive attitude, so as to avoid any added pressure?

First, it is important to map out a study plan. Whether you use a planner or your virtual calendar, you must set aside consistent study days/times (keyword being consistent). This will not only keep you organized among all of the additional academic and social commitments you likely have, but it will also prevent future stress which leads to cramming. Spreading out your study hours will not only allow for stronger retention, but will keep your mental state in check.

Another way to make the daunting period of test prep more enjoyable and less stressful is to grab a study buddy! Find a friend who is taking the test too and hit the library together. That said, it’s important to pick this person carefully, as you want to study rather than chat away for your three-hour study block. Nonetheless, when picked wisely, a study buddy can be an excellent resource for breaking down confusing test questions, and even doing some back-and-forth vocab quizzing!

Perhaps most important in maintaining a healthy mindset is remembering that the SAT/ACT does not define your academic potential. In fact, many argue that these exams are a poor representation of a student’s capabilities. Standardized testing is not a one-size-fits-all model. Some students work through reading and mathematics testing at a slower pace, and others may even struggle with testing anxiety. Do these obstacles make such students any less adept? Certainly not! However, their scores may represent otherwise on a college application. Even if testing is not where you shine, try and make it a goal to give it your best shot, at least once! If it’s not working, then ditch the anxiety and check out the list of test-optional schools at But make sure your grades, essays, and extracurricular activities are on point! Those will become more significant in your admissions process.

At the end of the day, all you can do is put forth your best effort to prepare and test. By taking the appropriate steps leading up to exam day and being the industrious student you are, you will likely come out with a score to celebrate!