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

ACT/SAT Prep

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

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.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

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

It's almost impossible to say that there are "best ways" to prepare for the SAT and the ACT because people learn in so many different ways. Here are a few tips, though: 1. Pay attention, study, and learn as much as you can in your school classes. Arrange for extra tutoring if you have difficulty with certain concepts. 2. Read. read. read! Choose challenging sources that interest you - novels, non-fiction, everything . . . You'll increase your vocabulary, while learning a lot of interesting new things. 3. Test practice books can be purchased and used for independent review. 4. Discover how the standardized tests are structured. Knowing ahead of time how the questions will be presented and what the directions will be for the various sections can save you valuable time during the actual testing. 5. Notice the kinds of questions asked in the various sections of the test. Determine where your weaknesses are, and spend time working towards improvement in those areas. 6. Do some practice tests under timed test conditions. You'll be able to determine where you may need to speed up. 7. Develop strategies for pacing yourself. Don't let yourself spend too much time on a question that's giving you trouble. It will be better to move on, keeping up a good pace, and come back to the troublesome question(s) if there is time remaining when you get to the end of that section. 8. Develop strategies for making educated guesses if you're not 100% sure of some answers. (Guessing is not advisable if you don't have the foggiest idea of an answer, but if you can eliminate several choices, so that you're making a sensible guess from the remaining choices, it can work to your advantage.) 9. Use online sources for review. SAT and ACT both offer preparation options on their websites. For many students, It can be extremely beneficial to take a test preparation class. As always, this will depend on the instructor, but you will probably be given tips in the areas indicated above, as well as actual instruction in English usage, critical reading and writing strategies, and mathematics. Many students find that preparing for the tests in a structured, controlled environment works most effectively for them. There is the additional benefit of having the assistance of a real person who can answer your questions as they arise.

Alexis Avila
Founder Prepped & Polished, LLC

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

If you are questioning whether to take the ACT or the SAT, take a practice test for both to best decide which direction to pursue. For the most realistic practice tests, I recommend purchasing both the Official Study Guide by College Board and the Real ACT Prep Guide by Petersons. After taking each practice test, use this ACT, SAT concordance table to analyze the results. The best test for top-level students can be either the ACT, the SAT or both. If you are strong in academics, that does not necessarily mean the ACT is the best test for you. While the ACT is a more academic-oriented test, strong academic students tend to do well on both tests. If you have trouble focusing during tests, then consider taking the ACT. The ACT is 20 minutes shorter than the SAT – or 50 minutes shorter if you decide to take the ACT without writing. On the flip side, attention-deficit test takers might find it easier to move fluidly through the SAT test since the individual sections are shorter in length than the ACT sections. So ask yourself this question: Do you want a longer SAT test with ten short sections, or a shorter ACT test with four or five longer sections? If you are leaning towards taking the ACT, try to sign up for the ACT with writing versus the ACT without writing. Most schools – especially top-tier colleges – require or prefer the ACT with writing, so adding the essay component to the ACT is usually worth the trouble. If you have test anxiety, consider taking the ACT. There is no guessing penalty on the ACT and there are less answer choices to choose from on all sections except the math section. Less answer choices plus no guessing penalty equals less to worry about for anxious test takers. If you are horrible at science and more importantly have trouble extrapolating information from tables and graphs, then consider taking the SAT. There is no science section on the SAT test. Just keep in mind that the ACT science section doesn’t cover in depth science content, but is more a test of reading charts and tables. If you have the budget to afford a private tutor, then consider taking the SAT. There are tons of tricks and strategies on the SAT that a well-seasoned SAT tutor can teach you to master. A tutor can certainly help you improve your ACT score, but preparing for the more straightforward ACT test – as long as you are a self-motivated student – is something that can be done on your own.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

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

Private tutoring with an experienced expert.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

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

There are a number of easily accessible tools available from the comfort of your own home. Do a quick Google search for the most commonly used SAT/ACT words and make some flashcards or use any number of free apps for you smart phone. In addition, grab a copy of the official guide to the SAT from Amazon for a few bucks and run through the sample tests in the back. There is a lot of money in test prep, but if you are willing to dedicate some time on your own you can make a big difference with your scores. For the ACT, remember that guessing isn't penalized, so pick a letter and stick with it for those you have no idea on.

Blake Wrobbel

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

There are some opinions out there that recommend you take Kaplan courses or other classes to help you "learn" how to take these exams. The SAT and ACT aren't easy exams, but the exams you've taken through out your schooling have prepared you for this format of a test, so don't be worried you'll be thrown a huge curve ball. The reason to avoid courses is 1.) they are costly. Often hundreds of dollars. Some people pay over a thousand for these courses and 2.) they are covering exactly the same material as can be found in a SAT/ACT study book. First, start studying 5-8 months before the test. This gives you ample time to review the material, take a practice exam, review, practice, review, etc. Practice is what will make you better. Practice will get you a good score. Find a study book with at least 4 practice tests, run through the material in the book, reading the recommendations the book has for approaching problems. They'll often have tips and strategies followed by practice questions. Run through the book like you would a textbook. The book is your guiding-light. When you've studied a thorough amount of the material, take a practice test. Plan your practice test for a Saturday morning or afternoon as if you were taking the real SAT or ACT. Have a hearty and healthy breakfast, get fully dressed, and sit down and take the practice test. Time yourself and limit yourself to the materials allowed in the exam in order to simulate the test. Because the SAT & ACT have a certain approach to its questions, practice will make you more familiar with the format and wording of the questions. Once you've taken your first practice exam grade it and take a couple days or a week off. Then review the materials in the front sections again. Then take the practice exam again. Repeat until you feel confident you understand the format, the flow, and the feel of the exam and its questions. It may be draining to take the practice exam more than three times. It may seem dull, and your motivation may be low. If this happens, take some more time off. You don't want to burnout studying for the SAT or ACT, or you'll be less receptive and motivated when the test rolls along. Good luck studying!