How To Prepare For College Placement Exams

How To Prepare For College Placement Exams

The best way to prepare your athlete for college placement exams, is to have them sit official practice tests and exams. It doesn’t matter which country, state, and college your athlete will attend, there are always official practice tests available online. Your athlete can use those exams to identify areas that need improvement. They are the best way to prepare for the real thing.

There are resources available online that offer both online and downloadable practice tests and exams. You should make sure the site you are visiting is an official site with official practice tests. When you are on the correct site, there will be exams that are created by those who put together the live exams every year. The exams available for practice always mimic the real thing and are sometimes actual exams from previous years. The questions are always similar to those that will be found in the placement exams. At the end of this blog, there will be a list of online sites where you can find official practice tests and exams.

Advantages of Practice Exams

There are many advantages to sitting practice exams. Encouraging your athlete to sit the online version is highly recommended. They are fully timed so your athlete can get used to each sections time limits. Results are automatically scored at the end and often comes with recommendations for further areas to improve on. Practice tests will prepare your athlete in every way for the big day. Along with being on the timer, your athlete can get used to using the online calculator and particular keyboard shortcuts. When they are accustomed to using such tools, time will not be an issue, and your athlete will walk into their placement exams with confidence and positivity, knowing they have done everything to prepare themselves for that very moment.

There are Downloadable versions available

If your athlete is much like myself, they may prefer to use pencil and paper. There are downloadable versions available of practice tests and exams. I do suggest if your athlete plans on doing this, that you time them so they are still getting used to being against the clock. Once your athlete completes the test, you can score it by hand yourself, or there are now mobile apps available that you can upload a photo of the answers to and have them marked. There are always downloadable versions available, however, I do recommend practising the online tests also.

Preparation is Key

Along with sitting practice exams, there are steps your athlete can take in preparation for college placement. First, do some research and find out the types of exams your athlete will need to take. Check all school and college resource centres, either online or in person, as they will have tools to help your athlete prepare for the correct exams. Have a conversation with your athlete and begin to determine what subject areas your athlete knows and is confident with. Then you can work out what areas they are not so comfortable with, or unsure of. If you feel that your athlete could benefit from a tutor, get them one. There is no shame in preparing for the best possible outcome. Preparation is key! The sooner you begin, the better.

What Subject Areas Are Included?

The three main subject areas your athlete will need to be focused on, are math, English, and reading. Then there are typically 5 subtest areas including verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, and situational judgement. It is advisable that your athlete practices IQ tests as well as placement tests. They will help to give your athlete an advantage in those subtest areas. There are normally basic math placement tests, and advanced math placement tests that your athlete can sit. If your athlete wants to pursue advanced math placement, they will need to have college-level algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. I suggest setting aside study time each week to focus especially on those key areas that will be on the placement tests.

Your Athlete Can Re-Sit Placements

If for any reason your athlete receives a less than the expected grade, they will have an opportunity to re-sit placement exams to aim for a higher grade. Please encourage them if they are down about their first grade. There is always a second chance on the table. If your athlete prepares well and knows what the assessment will entail, they will be just fine. Make them aware of how easy it is to make avoidable mistakes. Encourage your athlete to check their answers twice with time permitting. If they double-check they have answered all questions properly, when they find a mistake, it can be easily corrected before it’s time to hand it in. It is important to remember not to underestimate anything.

Language Proficiency Tests

If your athlete is considering studying in another country that has a foreign language, they may need to sit a language proficiency test. I would advise that your athlete begins learning that language long before they are due to go to college. If they are asked to sit a language proficiency test and they don’t pass, they will need to do a bridge course before they can begin college. When researching which exams your athlete will need to sit for placement, do take into account that different countries will have different requirements.

Different Countries, Different Requirements

In the US, the two most common placement tests are the SAT and ACT test. It doesn’t stop there though. There are many different types of placement tests and exams. So even though you may know what the common ones are, always check that there are not extras your athlete will need to take in order to gain entry to the college and program they so desire. Australians once did a QCS test at the end of their senior year. That has now been replaced with the ATAR scoring system. This was introduced in 2019. The UCAT website is the tool of tools for any student considering medical for college or university in Australia. They provide free official practice tests and offer support with test preparation. In the US, the one place you should be doing a lot of your research is on the NCAA website.

Wrapping Up

In wrapping up, I ask that you encourage your athlete to put time aside on their schedules each week in order to prepare for those placement exams. They are the most important exams they will ever take, and will potentially set them up for the rest of their life. Sitting online practice exams will help your athlete get used to the timer, online calculator, and keyboard shortcuts. One last suggestion I have is to encourage your athlete to practise speed reading. Just 5-10 minutes of speed reading per day can be an advantage in the exam room. All of these things will prepare your athlete with time, strategy, critical thinking, and they will walk into that placement exam, nail it, and walk out of there like a boss! In being prepared, your athlete is certainly set up for success, and that college dream will very soon become a reality.

Contact Me

If you would like any other tips, tools, and strategies that will ultimately lead your athlete along a very successful college path, come on over and visit my sporting community of parents and elites athletes. We would love to have you and your athlete join in the conversation over there. You can get there by following this link

Alternatively, I offer a free 30-minute consultation call. You can book a call today and together we will devise a strong sporting and academic plan for 2020 and beyond. If you would like to book a call, just follow the link and you will be taken to my calendar where you can book a time that suits you


There are quite a few resources available to help your athlete prepare for placement exams. This is a small list of the ones I have found most helpful:

  • which has official SAT practice tests on Kahn Academy.

There are many more out there but just be aware that they are not all supplying official practice tests. Only have your athlete take part in the ones that are holders of official tests. Good luck!

Yours in sport, Brooke Hamilton.


I give parents the tools and strategies required to help their elite athletes achieve their dream of a college sports scholarship. I teach everything from maintaining balanced sports, sleep, and school lifestyle, build visually pleasing sports portfolios, college and scholarship choices, creating exposure through social media, and the application process from start to finish. All this, and more. Your athlete's success is my #1 priority.

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