Take the ACT or SAT Exam Early for Financial Gain


Hey!  It’s ACT and SAT season again!  Most high school seniors have already taken their exams, because they wanted to get scores back earlier to make their entrance decisions.  But what about younger students?  Did you know that there’s no minimum age requirements to take the exams?  And did you know that there are a ton of benefits for taking them early, and often?

Our sons started taking these exams as early as sixth grade.  They didn’t score particularly well at first – but within a few years, they knew the exam process, and started scoring higher, as well.  Now, as kids in 8th and 10th grade, they’re not nervous about the exams, and are gunning for higher scores than last year.

It’s not too late to register to take the ACT or SAT exam this year – there are test dates still available in June.  When your kids take theses exams, think about incenting them with a “carrot” for achieving a target score.  This might get them to be more excited to prepare and study in advance of the exam.  The goal score shouldn’t be an unrealistic stretch, but something that’s realistic.  

If you think that it’s wrong to pay a kid to achieve a high score on an achievement test, think of it this way:  the higher they score, the more likely they are to get scholarships and financial aid.  A little incentive now could save you a bundle in the future.   Keep in mind that incentives don’t have to be cash.  In our family incentives have included summer camp fees, parts for fixing up cars and added minutes to a cell phone plan.

Money spent on helping kids get high scores on standardized tests used for college really is no different from parents spending money on high-end coaches and training for kids they hope will receive academic scholarships.  It’s all in the perspective.

Are your kids taking ACT or SAT exams this year?  Have you set out goal or incentives for them?  We’d love to hear about it!


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  • Pam

    What a great thought/article, I love this!

    • Thanks Pam! It is surprising how quickly the scores increase from year to year. We give bonuses for a 10% increase and then leave it up to the kids to decide if they want to do extra studying or not. Even when they don’t put in extra effort just taking the test more than once helps significantly.

  • It’s really key to get kids thinking about this really important exam sooner rather than later – and if they can take it a couple of times before it “really counts” they’ll be so much less nervous.

    Do you remember how nervous you were when you took these exams?