STATEPOINT — Whether taking the SAT, the ACT or both, excelling on college entrance exams can significantly strengthen one’s school applications.

While students need to take personal initiative when prepping for these crucial tests, families can lend a helping hand in many ways.

Prioritizing Study Time

Good study habits are important for academic achievement and will come in handy in college. They are also especially important during college exam preparation.

Ensure your student has a quiet area to study for the big day, free of distractions like televisions, squabbling siblings and social media.

A study schedule should be practical. If possible, consider giving your student a free pass from chores on days he or she takes a full practice test — this will require several hours and be mentally taxing.

The Right Tools

Mathematical coursework, test-taking and preparation require the right gear. Set up your student for achievement with scientific and graphing calculators that feature a range of high-level functions. Remember, some questions in the math sections of the SAT can’t be solved without a scientific or graphing calculator.

Choose one that is right for the task. For example, Casio’s CLASSWIZ fx-991EX is the first scientific calculator to feature spreadsheet functionality. It enables users to create spreadsheets with up to five columns and 45 rows. It can also convert graphs into QR codes which can be displayed on a projector screen, allowing students to work seamlessly with their teacher or test prep tutor.

Designed for elementary, middle and high school students, Casio’s range of calculators focus on such subjects as general math, trigonometry, statistics, algebra, geometry and physics, and are available in a wide variety of colors (a potential motivational tool for students who want to do math in style!).

Whatever model you opt for, be sure it is authorized for use during the test and has an intuitive interface that will speed up calculations when time matters.

Deeper Understanding

It’s not always enough to memorize materials. A competitive edge is gained with true comprehension. Fill your home with books and magazines on a wide range of subjects. Picking up new words in a practical context will happen naturally without feeling like work.

On the math front, check out practical tools that encourage deeper understanding of difficult concepts, such as research-based books and education workbooks on topics like critical thinking, algebra, geometry and statistics.

Test Day

The night before the test is not the time to cram. Students should arrive at the test site refreshed, well-rested and well-fed. Fatigue or an empty stomach will prove distracting. Fill up on brain food containing Omega-3s, antioxidants and vitamin E. For those needing a morning boost, consider jogging the brain into action over breakfast with a challenging article or math problem.

College entrance exams can significantly affect an academic career. Take every step you can to ensure a maximum score.