There are many ways to prepare for the SAT:
the classroom approach for test prep works for some students but not for all of them. personal tutor is the best way to prep if financially possible. self study also works for some of my students becuase they are gifted with the highest discipline.
There is no one best to prepare for the SAT or ACT, but given the reality of the ever competitive application process, it almost imperative that a prospective applicant do something. As to which, it really depends upon a student’s learning style. Some need the formal classroom like approach, while for others a computer program might be the best way to go. Meanwhile, one-on- one tutoring might be best for someone else. The approaches, but if one wants to compete effectively, it is definitely in their best interests to undertake some kind of advance preparation.
Start early and read! A lot of students think that the SAT or ACT is a test that they can just study for a week before the test like one of their other classroom tests and it is not. It is a test that takes strategy, clear thinking, critical thinking and test taking skills that need to be learned over time. There are so many ways to prepare out there today. Companies like Princeton Review, Kaplan, Powerscore, Huntington are making big money on prep courses these days. I feel like you can prepare just as well as any of these courses if you are disciplined enough to put in the time. We have a program through Naviance called Method Test Prep that is really well done in it’s structure and preparation. You can even order this program separately. It has audio and video explanations after every question you answer. They recommend that you spend a half hour a day up to 15 weeks before the test you are taking to properly prepare. Now, you may miss a day here and there but that is a good recommendation. They say that you should do half a practice test a week 8 weeks prior to a test and then a full-length practice test a month before you take the test. There is the question of the day that you can get e-mailed to you as well. I don’t think you need to spend thousands of dollars on test prep to get a great score. I think you need to discipline yourself to spend the daily time preparing and then maybe take a $500 course a month before the test to learn all the strategies you may need to know.
Private tutoring with an experienced expert.
It’s essential to know the academic content beforehand! In the two decades I’ve taught SAT/ACT Prep, I’ve noticed a majority of students are lacking knowledge of the academic areas tested: algebra, geometry, basic math, reading comprehension, college-bound vocabulary, standard grammar and usage, and critical thinking skills. The more you can learn and retain in school, the easier it will be to take the SAT and ACT. If you’re solid on academic content, test prep courses will teach you effective strategies and techniques for test taking. Some students can study on their own using library books and practice tests, while others need more personalized attention and accountability. No matter what method you chose, set clear, achievable goals and stick to a study calendar.
but definitely better. All the test perp gurus who I have spoken to have stated that the best way to practice for these standardized entrance exams is to take the tests under testing conditions as many times as possible. I am also a huge fan of the free questions of the day offered by both Collegeboard and the ACT.
I personally love the daily question found on both the College Board’s and ETS’s websites. It also doesn’t hurt to become familiar with the type of questions you will be asked, as the format doesn’t change. While the SAT is more about your problem solving and reasoning skills, the ACT covers acquired knowledge. The day before the test please get a normal night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the test site, and keep breathing! Once you have your scores you will know if you want to retake the exam and/or do a more in depth prep course. Most schools will only look at your highest scores, regardless.
The best ways to prepare for the SAT and/or ACT is through a comprehensive study method that is efficient, effective, and guarantees results. The Edge has successfully assisted hundreds of students in attaining their goal scores and the best way to guarantee results is with a customized approach. The best thing is to start with a diagnostic SAT and ACT to determine your specific areas of weakness and then prep for the test where you have the higher starting score. Whichever test you do, you should supplement your preparation (tutoring/online course/bootcamp) with REAL practice tests from either the College Board (SAT) or the ACT organization.
For some students that might mean purchasing a books, such as The College Boards’ Real SAT Exams Putting in the time, by themselves, studying on a regular basis might be sufficient. Other students might benefit from taking a SAT class, and there are so many options today( at various prices ) including online classes or even working with a tutor thru Skype. Other students might find that working with a private tutor to be more effective, whether it is because they have academic challenges or that they are very bright and a class might move too slow for them. A good private tutor can focus in on how you learn best and only spend time on those sections of the exam that you need help with.
The best way to prepare for the SAT or the ACT is to plan ahead. Start two or three months before the test. Get a study guide and create an outline of sections you should read or practice. Don’t just assume that you’ll “get to reading it eventually”. Most of these books are 900+ pages!
Start with a full practice test. You can take one online or one in the book. Grade how you did and then focus on the areas that you need to improve.
The outline should list which sections, pages and weeks to read. Then do it! Start with the test format and overview. Then read a section on the reading questions. Then practice some of those questions. Go over your answers! Don’t just score it, but re-read and found out why you missed it. Then continue with the writing and math sections (and science section for the ACT).
If you aren’t doing well on the practice questions or tests, consider signing up for a class or hiring a private tutor. The classes are more popular, but hard to schedule with busy students. Private tutors are more effective because they can focus on your weaknesses.
As the owner of a test prep and college consulting company, I invariably tell students that some form of preparation is key. Whether you purchase a College Board SAT book or the Peterson ACT book, do something.
My advice to students is to become an expert in vocabulary. It is amazing how much this little area will help you to do well on both tests. Sure, it’s important to prep for the math and writing, but knowing vocabulary words will help you in all areas of the tests. I would suggest a vocab study book or flashcards. There are numerous options on the market for students to choose from. If that feels like too much, here’s an even easier option: READ! Students who read for leisure (and you need to read more than Twilight or Harry Potter) are bound to do better on standardized test than student who do not read. Select books that will stretch your brain, cause you to think critically and challenge you in your vocabulary knowledge!
There are a number of easily accessible tools available from the comfort of your own home. Do a quick Google search for the most commonly used SAT/ACT words and make some flashcards or use any number of free apps for you smart phone. In addition, grab a copy of the official guide to the SAT from Amazon for a few bucks and run through the sample tests in the back. There is a lot of money in test prep, but if you are willing to dedicate some time on your own you can make a big difference with your scores. For the ACT, remember that guessing isn’t penalized, so pick a letter and stick with it for those you have no idea on.
It’s almost impossible to say that there are “best ways” to prepare for the SAT and the ACT because people learn in so many different ways.
If you are questioning whether to take the ACT or the SAT, take a practice test for both to best decide which direction to pursue. For the most realistic practice tests, I recommend purchasing both the Official Study Guide by College Board and the Real ACT Prep Guide by Petersons. After taking each practice test, use this ACT, SAT concordance table to analyze the results.
There are some opinions out there that recommend you take Kaplan courses or other classes to help you “learn” how to take these exams. The SAT and ACT aren’t easy exams, but the exams you’ve taken through out your schooling have prepared you for this format of a test, so don’t be worried you’ll be thrown a huge curve ball. The reason to avoid courses is 1.) they are costly. Often hundreds of dollars. Some people pay over a thousand for these courses and 2.) they are covering exactly the same material as can be found in a SAT/ACT study book.
Here is my video response to the question.
4 Basic Test Strategies for Students
There are two key predictors of success on college admission standardized tests. The first predictor of success on the SAT and ACT is taking a challenging high school course load. However, by the time that “test prep” comes to mind, course selection is long since set. The second predictor of success is repeated exposure to the test. Test prep tutors and companies focus on repetition to help students earn improved scores. Make sure that your test prep plan focuses on test experience not content.
The best way is to first take an actual test – either through the SAT/ACT, or a practice test. After it has been scored then you will know those areas that you will need improvement on and which type of help you will be looking for based on your personal learning style and that is within your budget.
There are a number of ways that students can prepare for these exams. Beyond paying attention in class and doing well in high school, here are some more targeted ways….
Both the ACT and SAT have sample tests and questions at their websites (actstudent.org and collegeboard.org) In many counseling offices, there are sample test booklets with full length ACT and SAT practice tests. There are many private companies that provide ACT/SAT prep classes. Talk to you counselor about the ones in your area.
Start early!! Bookmark SAT and ACT Question of the Day sites and do a problem each day. This will help you get familiar with question formats and topics. It is best to study each day for a short period of time than to spend hours right before the test.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
There is no best way – whatever works for you is best. Consider taking a prep course, study old exams, or 1 on 1 tutoring.
Both the ACT and SAT have sample tests and questions at their websites (actstudent.org and collegeboard.org) In many counseling offices, there are sample test booklets with full length ACT and SAT practice tests. There are many private companies that provide ACT/SAT prep classes. Talk to you counselor about the ones in your area. The best way to prepare for ACT or SAT is by taking challenging classes in school. It doesn’t take any “extra” prep work, taking good, college-prep classes will look good to colleges AND prepare you to take your standardized tests!
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