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?

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.

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.

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.

Nina Sculler
Director College Prep

Preparing for the SAT and ACT

Practice! Practice! Practice! Studies show that students who are familiar with the types of questions and the layout of the test will perform better. Both of the websites associated with these tests offer practice tests and questions for free. USE THESE RESOURCES. SAT has more vocabulary questions (the sentence completions) a good vocabulary is helpful. There are many resources to build a good vocabulary. Nothing beats using the words in sentences. When I practice for the SAT with my students, I make them write words they don't know on index cards and write their definition on the backside. I quiz them by having them use the words in a sentence that makes sense. Dictionary.com has a word of the day program that can be sent to your mailbox or smart phone. Practice using those words in sentences with friends who are also studying for the the SAT. Students should read more! Reading comprehensively is a skill, so it should be practiced like basketball or the piano. Know your math, get a book that explains math concepts if math is an area of weakness. Practice! Practice! Practice!

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......

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

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

PRACTICE TESTS.

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.

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.

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.

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!