What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?

ACT/SAT Prep

Our counselors answered:

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?

Pam Proctor
Author The College Hook

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?

Here is my video response to the question.

Pam Proctor
Author The College Hook

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?

Here is my video response to the question.

Alan Sheptin
Owner Sheptin Tutoring Group, LLC

Alan Sheptin, Sheptin Tutoring Group, LLC

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. There are many prep courses out there, ranging in price from virtually nothing to thousands of dollars. Don't be fooled - paying thousands does not guarantee a better course. It just ensures the profitability of the company. It's all what you make of the course. You can do a free on-line course (religiously, I may add) and get a lot out of it. Or your parents can pay $3000+ for a classroom course, you don't do the work, and you get nothing out of it. Here are some things I recommend asking when looking at prep courses: 1. How much experience do your teachers have in teaching SAT and ACT prep? 2. What is the cap on class size? 3. Is there differentiated instruction (in other words, will students aiming for 800 on the Math part of the SAT be in a class with students hoping for 400). 4. Are simulated test experiences included in the tuition? 5. How is homework monitored (we always collect and review homework) 6. Can you provide references? (especially important when working with private tutors)

Calli Christenson
Director CLC College Prep Services

Vocabulary Practice

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!

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Practice Makes Perfect...Well maybe not perfect

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.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Test Prep

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.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?

There is no best way - whatever works for you is best. Consider taking a prep course, study old exams, or 1 on 1 tutoring.

Eric Beers, Ph.D.
College and Career Counselor Air Academy High School

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?

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!

Dawn Ducharme

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?

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.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT?

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.