Keeping Students Sharp in the Summer

As parents, we all sometimes wonder, how do we keep those essential skills, especially the ones needed for the SAT, ACT and AP exams, fresh in our children’s heads during the summer months. Those days from June till September seem much longer than a full school year, especially if there is no reinforcement of what was covered from the previous September to June.

If your high school student is home for the summer, even if he or she has received summer work or is holding a part time job, it may be a great idea for you, as a parent, to investigate a way to keep those essential test taking skills in the forefront of their minds. 

Nobody wants to be the parent that is a task master, barricading the way to the beach and the pool until rigorous studying is completed; however, it is possible to integrate skills into daily and weekly routines without taking on a heated battle with your headstrong teenager. 

Take a Free Online Class

The first quick and easy thing to do is to have your child register for a free Khan Academy account. Khan Academy has established a partnership with The College Board to offer free, online SAT prep. Better yet, create an account for yourself as well and make it a daily challenge for you and your child.

Review the day’s questions and the vocabulary word and make a game out of it. At first you child may seem unwilling, but if you commit to sitting down and using your Khan Academy account while he or she uses hers, that may be, after a few days, all the motivation your child needs.

Put those daily vocabulary words into play as well; make it worth their while to incorporate them into dinner table conversation. Offer an incentive; a dinner out, a ride to a friend’s house, movie tickets, if they use each daily word up to 10 times during the week.

At first these suggestions may sound childish, but let’s keep in mind that our 14, 15, and even 16-year-olds are still children at heart and these challenges may appeal to their inner child.

Get Some New Reading Material

Create a budget for books. Pick a day and take a trip to Barnes and Noble or your local bookstore and encourage your child to select three books that interest him or her of any topic or genre.

While the selection is going on, head over to the “Recommended Summer Reading Section” and select two books that you think would interest both you and your child.

When you're both done sit down in some of the comfy chairs and have a “negotiation.” You will agree to read two of the books your child has selected and your child will read one of the books you selected. Give yourselves a timeline of a month for this “book club” to cover all three works. If you have time head back for three more books for the next month.

Reading more than anything else is one of the strongest and simplest ways to prepare for the SAT and for any other standardized test.

Before you leave the store, pick up some crossword puzzle books as well. Toss them in the car for long drives, trips to the beach, dinners at restaurants; they are a great way to reinforce vocabulary, retain general knowledge and even develop research skills.

Make Math Fun

Do you have concerns about how to integrate math skills for retention during the summer? You can use Khan Academy for drills and practice problems, but the best way to review some of the basic math concepts that are needed for any standardized test is to put them into practical use.  

Send your child to the grocery store and challenge them to save you $15.00 on groceries by calculating the different percentages you would save from buying store brand vs premium brand. Make sure they show you the worksheet they’ve used to make the calculations. Have them investigate cost saving tips in phone plans, cable plans and other areas that the entire family uses. If your child is heading into senior year, this the perfect opportunity to teach them to balance a checkbook, or to explain how interest is calculated on a credit card bill, a student loan, or in a high yield savings account.  

These math steps do not have to be time consuming or dull; even the child who loathes math will work to tell you how much  money you can save by buying her the “must have” item of the week at 15% off. 

Embrace Technology

Since teens today spend so much time on their devices, spring for the apps that make learning fun. iTunes offers an SAT Math app and an English one as well.  Download those for quick and easy practice.  

This summer, test prep does not have to be torture. Make it a team effort and you will be the driving force behind your child’s success. 


The most efficient way for your child to up their SAT or ACT score is to engage a tutor. Consider ScoreBeyond, a virtual tutoring service that uses technology to craft a personalized program for your student.