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Family 411: Applications for college bound teens

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College bound teens are likely working on applications and taking the ACT and SAT exams right now.

Even if you study and prepare, the high stake tests can be stressful.

High school senior Ben Carey is preparing to take the ACT for the third time.

Students take countless tests throughout their school lives but non create as much stress as the ACT and SAT.

"More people get themselves psyched out before they head in and then that affects them more than any preparation that didn't do anything else."

College counselors tell us about 25 percent of colleges are moving toward test score optional admissions.

Jeff Stahlman says it's important to show improvement in your high school career.

"Your grades are four years worth of a record that is going to carry more weight in admissions than the test scores will."

Counselors say one of the best ways to prepare is to take sample practice tests.

And don't let your mind wander into thinking about how a good score might secure a financial scholarship or entrance into a reach school.

"So they put all this pressure on themselves because they want to do well," says Clinical Counselor Tasha Boyer. "They want to succeed. Not just for themselves but for the people around them."

Students can get outside help to tackle the test.

"Some students will work with a specific tutor," says high school counselor Jeff Stahlman. "Maybe they are doing well on English. Maybe they are doing well but they need help with math, they can get a person that would just focus on that section of the test with them."

Boyer says parents can help students by empathizing with them.

"I hear that is really difficult and it is creating a lot of anxiety for you."

"The night before, don't try to cram at all," says Ben. "Just go to bed early. Because if you are tired and stressed out before you even get to the testing site and sit down, it's not going to be a good day."

Counselors say develop a strategy to take the test. Then put things in perspective.

"It is never too late. Keep working. Improvement can be recognized. It can make a huge difference in the admissions process."

College admissions are competitive. But students should remember to focus on their own test and not be worried if the person to their left is already finished.

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