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


Our counselors answered:

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

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.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

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


Dr. Bruce Neimeyer
CEO/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

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

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.... 1. A student can engage with a company such as Kaplan or the Princeton Review to take you by the hand in classroom settings to gear you up for and make you comfortable with taking the exam. But, this can be one of the more costly options. 2. Engage with an individual tutor who can tailor what they do for you to get ready. You may be weak in a particular area and need more assistance with this. This again is costly but might be a wise investment depending on what you are trying to accomplish. 3. If you are self motivated, you can pick up a number of guides that also have exercises and study materials for the test content. They even have sample exams you can take at the end to test how well you might expect to do on the real exam. This is certainly less costly but you will need to be self motivated to get it done. No one is going to come in and help you open the book and read it. It is all you in this instance so be ready for that should you choose this path. 4. A great way to build your vocabulary for the exams is to use some vocabulary building books. There are even apps for that now on smart phones. It is something you can do while riding the bus or waiting for your parents to pick you up from school and you will begin to sound a lot more intelligent as well which is an nice extra bonus! There are lots more but this is just a taste......

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Test Prep A Must, But Do What Works for You

There is no one best to prepare for the SATor 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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)