Student Life

SAT & ACT Test Prep

The SAT or ACT can seem very intimidating, but there are a couple ways that you can prepare for the test in order to receive a great score.

Kayla Hankins, Student Contributor

October 18, 2019

SAT & ACT Test Prep
Most colleges require one of two tests within their admissions processes: the SAT and the ACT. The SAT or ACT can seem very intimidating, but there are a couple ways that you can prepare for the test in order to receive a great score.
SAT or ACT...What’s the Difference?
Although the SAT and ACT accomplish the same goal when applying to a college, there are a few differences you may want to consider when deciding which test is right for you. Both the SAT and ACT have testing times of around three hours and also have optional writing or essay sections. Some colleges require the SAT essay or the ACT writing portions, so you should do research on the college you want to go to in order to figure out which option is best. The SAT obtains four sections that include reading, writing and language, math without a calculator, and math with a calculator. The ACT also has four sections that consist of English, math, reading, and science. The SAT is scored out of 1600 in which the reading and writing hold 800 points and math is another 800 points. On the other hand, the ACT is scored out of 36 and is an average of the four areas within the test. You can take practice tests to figure out which test you feel most comfortable with.
Weaknesses and Strengths
When you select a test to take, you should be aware of your strengths and weaknesses within the subjects. This is vital to how you will begin studying for your test. Weaknesses in one or more areas call for more time studying those areas. Within your broad weaknesses and strengths, you should specify the exact topics and skills you need to learn or refresh. Also, know your strengths and bolster them further. Do not completely neglect the concepts that you are good at and make yourself even better at them.
Studying
There are many ways to study for the SAT or ACT. Tutors and study groups are great resources to prepare for the SAT or ACT because they can give you materials and study tips that can benefit you as you study. Studying in groups or out loud with a tutor can help you retain more information, and, at times, make studying feel less like a burden and more enjoyable. Both the SAT and ACT have official practice books that give example problems and break down the answers. The books also explain how to approach certain problems and what they are asking for. When conducting individual studying, it is important to fully understand the material and time your progress. As you time your speed in answering questions, you can figure out how fast you need to be to complete the sections in an adequate manner. Eventually, your time will become a habit, and it will be easier to complete the sections of the test with both speed and accuracy. Schedules are very important to plan when you study, how long you will spend studying, what you are studying, and where you will study. You do not want to cram information before the SAT or ACT because it will not benefit you greatly. Instead, map out dates and times to study to ensure gradual learning and establish a long-lasting memory. You can study on specific subjects at certain times to focus on intricate details about the skills and tricks that will help you on the test. Although studying a lot is great, you do not want to strain your brain to much, so don’t be afraid to take breaks. The atmosphere you chose to study in can affect whether you are truly learning and absorbing information or allowing it to go through one ear and out the other. An individual’s best study space is a place where he or she can focus best without any outside distractions or temptations to digress. Once you find a space that is unique to you, you can begin to study hard and equip yourself with the tools you need to succeed on the SAT or ACT.
Strategies to Succeed on the SAT or ACT:
As you prepare for the SAT or ACT, you want to create habits that will be second nature by test day. There are many strategies that can be used on both tests. One of the strategies to practice is to go back to your strengths and complete the questions that you feel confident about first, then move on to the remaining questions. Another thing to remember is to not be afraid to mark up either test booklet. Sometimes, scratch work or annotations can help you better understand the material and provide good notes to refer to when answering question. Annotations are especially useful for the reading, writing, and optional SAT essay and ACT writing. For multiple choice questions, the process of elimination can help you find the correct answer. But remember, the most complicated answer isn’t always the right answer, so you should trust what you have learned up to this point. Confidence is key to success.
The Night Before and Morning of the Test:
Before the test, you should relax and try not to stress out about the test. Light review is great to keep your mind fresh, but don’t push yourself too hard. Once again, cramming will not make anything better, and your preparation will serve you well in the test. The week before the test, especially the night before, get a good night sleep and wake up promptly. Make sure to give yourself enough time to get to your testing center and bring all of the required materials to take the test. Always bring a non-mechanical #2 pencil and check if your calculator is an approved calculator. You must eat a nourishing, healthy breakfast and avoid any stressors. When you sit down in your seat to take the test, take a deep breath, center yourself, and do the best you can. You are a well prepared, brilliant individual. Believe in yourself and shine!

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