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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!