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.

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!

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

Practice, practice, practice

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.

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.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

self study and personal tutor

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.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Learn and Retain Academic Content, Then Become Familiar with Test Format

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.

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware County Christian School

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

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.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

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

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.