Preparing for the SAT/ACT
By Mike Pugh
The SAT and ACT measure what you have learned over the course of many years. While no amount of cramming can turn a 200 into an 800, organized preparation can go a long way. With books, videos, software and prep courses, you have options for getting the help you need.
Start with the free publications available at your high school for students taking the SAT or SAT Subject Tests. Taking the SAT features test-taking tips, as well as a sample test, the correct answers, an answer sheet and scoring instructions. Ask your guidance counselor for free materials.
You can also download some test prep materials and answer sample questions online, for free on the College Board Web site.
If you want more in-depth advice, and are willing to pay for it, practice manuals abound. Priced anywhere from $10 to $50, these books typically offer test-taking strategies, expert advice and practice tests. Many include a CD-ROM featuring sample tests and other interactive options.
When selecting a book, check the date of publication (the more recent, the better), reviews and the number of practice tests included. And check your local library to see if you can get access to the same books for free.
The fastest growing segment of SAT/ACT preparation materials is CD-ROM software.
The key advantage to SAT/ACT preparation software is its ability to tailor a training program to your needs. You start with a diagnostic test that assesses your strengths and weaknesses. The program then creates a personalized course of study, featuring sample tests, hundreds of review questions, multimedia teaching aids, helpful test-taking strategies and progress trackers.
SAT/ACT software is priced around $25.