Using Winter Break to Prep for College Entrance Exams

December 23, 2016
Serrina Nasrollahi

Turn preparing for college entrance exams into a game over winter break.

Preparing for college entrance exams over break can become a fun bonding activity.

Yes, winter break is usually the time for cold weather, feel-good holiday vibes, and lots of gift giving. College entrance exams are usually the last thing on students’ minds during this seasonal break. But, that doesn’t mean that you should spend weeks cuddled up in your bedroom in your festive holiday pajamas while doing TV show marathons and drinking hot chocolate. A little studying won’t hurt!

Winter break is the perfect time to crack open the books and start to catch up with all of your advanced test prep. Whether you plan on taking the ACT or SAT in 2017, studying this winter can help put you ahead of the test prep game. In fact, you may even enjoy your downtime more knowing you were productive along the way. Here are two tips on how you can use winter break to help you prepare for college entrance exams:

Learn the structure of college entrance exams

Receiving exposure to the ways of the SAT and ACT is the best way to dive into the process of studying for these tests. Sometimes, simply reading the material can help you become more familiar with the types of questions and various sorts of content that will put your brain to work on Test Day. Yes, this may take a bit of time, but what better time to start than when you actually have it.

There are plenty of test prep books and supplements that can help you study. Getting a big book full of lesson plans and practice tests is a good way to start prep. Before diving too deep into the material, it is important to understand the structure of these college entrance exams and what exactly you will be tested on. By taking a few practice tests and familiarizing yourself with their structure, you will be more comfortable approaching individual subjects.   

Who said studying during your break had to be boring?

I think most students can agree that studying is not the most fun in thing in the world. That doesn’t mean, however, that it always has to be boring. There are always fun ways to study! Winter break is the perfect time to make games out of studying and to find different ways to make your studying experience more enjoyable.

Make it a goal to get a certain percentage grade on a brief SAT pop quiz in order to watch the next episode of your favorite TV show. Write a list of 100 questions on a piece of paper and ask one of your siblings to quiz you as you clean your room. For every question you get right, throw a piece of clothing in the laundry basket or wipe down the top of your nightstand. Don’t be afraid to get creative and come up with your own ideas!

A few years ago, a good friend of mine wanted to try out a way of studying that was directly rewarding. He made flashcards for one of his engineering tests, reviewed them, and made a goal for himself. For every 10 cards he got right in a row, he also ate a gummy bear. He did this to help his memorization skills and found it to be much easier, and more enjoyable, to memorize some of the information for his test. Now, he does this before every test.

While staying at home during the holiday season, there are plenty of efficient and and fun ways to study. You just have to throw your thinking caps on and spend some time thinking about what you need to study and how you can have fun while doing it. After all, the holidays are meant to be fun and full of cheer. With that being said, don’t be afraid to try something new while you’re at home. You’ll be surprised by how much it can help!

Set yourself up for success on college entrance exams by signing up for one of Kaplan’s SAT/ACT prep courses. Keep checking back for amazing deals throughout the holidays!


Serrina Nasrollahi Serrina is a 20 year old pre-med student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, majoring in biology and minoring in both business administration and psychology. She enjoys reading books ranging from mystery to politics, collecting the newest issues of Marvel comics, and spending time with her friends and family during her free time.



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