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Begin to Prepare for the Computer-Delivered ACT & SAT

There is no need to be dismayed about taking the computer-delivered ACT or SAT.

Tiffany Sorensen, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

June 02, 2015

Begin to Prepare for the Computer-Delivered ACT & SAT
There is no need to be dismayed about taking the computer-delivered ACT or SAT. If you invest a little time in getting familiar with the new format, you will feel more confident on test day. Here are some tips and reminders to make the transition smoother.

Make use of scrap paper

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You may be accustomed to jotting down notes, underlining, or employing other such methods on paper-based standardized tests. Because the ACT and SAT will soon be administered from computers, it will no longer be possible for you to mark up your exam booklet. However, exams proctors should provide you with scrap paper to help you answer the questions. This implies that you can still take notes and underline during the test, just that you cannot do so in the same way as before. As you prepare for an upcoming ACT or SAT, get yourself into the habit of using the scrap paper. Refrain from writing on or near the questions or passages themselves.

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If you continue to write on the exam as was previously allowed, it will be more difficult for you to stop doing so once the test change takes effect.

Adjust your eyes

Some students prefer to read from a computer than from printed material, while others prefer just the opposite. If you do not normally spend much time on the computer, your eyes might need to adapt to reading and working from an electronically-powered screen.

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People with sensitive eyes may at first be bothered by the different kind of light computers emit. You can help your eyes prepare for the computer-delivered ACT or SAT by using the computer a little bit each day. Read news articles, blogs, or other web pages that interest you or, better yet, answer some online practice questions. If you still have issues reading from a computer, you can even purchase special glasses to assist your eyes.

Take online practice tests

Not surprisingly, the most effective way to practice for the computer-delivered ACT or SAT is by taking online practice tests. Printed practice tests can familiarize you with the subject matter of the test, but the actual testing conditions can only be simulated by an online setting. Take advantage of the College Board website; download any free PDFs or software it offers that can get you ready for test day. In addition, you should time yourself as you complete practice tests. If you get accustomed to working at a slow, comfortable pace, you are likely to run out of time on the ACT or SAT. Your goal should be to get as close to the genuine testing conditions as possible so that the real ACT or SAT feels like just another practice test.

Relax and realize the benefits

Perhaps you are nervous about this change in the way the ACT and SAT will be administered. However, if you take some time to get used to the electronic format, you should have no issues making the adjustment. Remember that it is not the content of the tests that is being modified; it is just the manner in which they are given. If you do well on the paper-based ACT or SAT, you can do just as well on the computer-delivered ACT or SAT. In addition, there are certain benefits associated with computer-based exams. For example, you do not have to worry about bubbling in the answer sheet correctly. Also, it might take you less time, as you’ll click through questions instead of flip through paper pages. Getting ready for these computer-delivered tests could be simpler than you realize. Take a deep breath and believe in yourself!

Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Spanish Language & Literature from Stony Brook University.

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