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?

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!