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!

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.

Jolyn Brand
Owner & CEO Brand College Consulting

Study methods depend on each student

There are many ways to prepare for the SAT: Study on your own Take a test prep course (such as Kaplan) Hire a private tutor To study on your own, students need to be organized and disciplined. They will need to fit studying into their schedule on a weekly basis, between classes, sports and friends. Some companies, such as Kaplan, offer test prep courses. While these can be a good overview of the tests, they normally can't help students with individual weaknesses. Frequently, they are 20+ students in a room taking a practice test or reading tips. Most of these classes are also taught by college students or someone who just happens to have done well on the test himself. Most do not have a teaching background. The last, more helpful method is a tutor. Hiring a private tutor is not much more expensive than the classes and students can get individualized attention to their weaknesses and areas of concern. Hiring a tutor who is also a teacher is the most beneficial since that person has experience working with students.

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.