As most of the schools across the country have let out for summer break by now, the last thing you want to talk about is the ACT and SAT, right? I understand. I don’t get as many vacations in a year as you do, but when I do, you won’t find me on the beach or by the pool addressing the secrets of a 30:60:90 triangle. It’s okay if you need a couple of weeks to unwind, but unfortunately, I’m not on vacation with you. I have to write about the tests. It’s my job. So as a compromise, I promise not to mention The-Tests-That-Must-Not-Be-Named by name for the remainder of the month, and instead talk about some seemingly unrelated activities you can do this summer to help you prepare without even realizing it.
Read some novels
While you’re kicking back on the beach, read a paperback to help pass the time. Save the classic novels for September and start your summer with a thrilling mystery or tragic love story. The point is to enjoy text and to practice reading for longer periods of time, a skill that will help you on The-Tests-That-Must-Not-Be-Named and in college. You can also use a paper bookmark on which to write vocabulary words you encounter but do not know. Sounds too easy? Check out what you can learn from the Harry Potter and Hunger Games novels. Bestselling fiction is a lot smarter than you think.
Buy a puzzle book
Pick up a variety puzzle book at your local drugstore on your way to the pool this summer. It’s packed with fun vocabulary-building exercises and critical thinking games, which can help you improve on all sections of The-Tests-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. Crosswords are great ways to build your vocabulary, and logic puzzles help you learn to approach Math questions in new ways. Eager to start? We’ve got some puzzles you can try in our Free Help Area.
Keep a journal
You don’t know it yet, but you are about to change. It’s inevitable. Until now, you’ve been surrounded by people from the same town with many of the same experiences and same interests. But you’re about to enter college, where you’ll meet people from all over the world and be exposed to new ideas and new activities. You are going to change, and how wonderful to be able to look back someday at a journal of your last year in high school and remember who you once were (or in my case, how embarrassing. I was obsessed with Andre Agassi and we both had really bad early 90s hair). And then there’s the fact that writing every day will give you an advantage on The-Tests-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. If you spend 25 minutes a night writing about who’s seeing who and the most recent scandal at your summer job, you’ll not only have blackmail for your 20-year class reunion, but you’ll also find the time requirements of the optional essay portions of the The-Tests-That-Must-Not-Be-Named somewhat accommodating.
Use real world math
Math teachers always hear, "When am I ever going to use this in the real world?" And while it's very rare that I encounter the quadratic equation in my life away from test prep, I find that I often rely on basic math skills in my daily life. And you can, too. Bake some cookies, but either halve the recipe or double it so that you have to multiply and divide fractions. Go out to eat and determine what a 10%, 15%, 20%, and 25% tip would be so that you can practice finding percentages. Plot the fastest route for your summer vacation road trip so that you gain more experience with rates, measurement, and geometry. Keep stats at a baseball game on each player and on the game itself and you'll gain experience with percentages, rates, averages, and so much more. Math really is everywhere, but it's easy to miss if you aren't looking for it.
Well, there you have it. The secret to painless summer prep for The-Tests-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. Now if only we can get your Calculus teacher to think along the same lines this fall.
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