No matter what grabs your kid’s interest—short stories, biographies of hip-hop artists, graphic novels, sci-fi—encourage him to read lots and often. This habit will improve vocabulary and writing skills, which both come in handy when taking the SAT and ACT. Plus, the knowledge gleaned from a steady diet of reading can shine through when it’s time to write application essays. Another bonus? He’ll have interesting material to discuss during college interviews, points out college consultant Julia Phillips, from LogicPrep, a tutoring and mentoring service based in New York. “Many college interviewers will ask what books you’re reading,” she says. Getting into a passionate discussion about your favorite writer will make a much stronger impression than struggling to name that book you read last year in English class.