Summertime - Get into your top choice
What's the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of the summer? It's probably not studying for the SAT and/or ACT. Although test prep doesn't sound fun, it's so important that you set aside some of your summer to prepare for the SAT/ACT if you're a rising junior or senior. Follow the tips below and you'll be prepared for the dreaded standardized test(s) by test day.
- Decide which tests you're going to take. This may sound obvious, but you should decide if you're going to take the SAT, ACT or both. Although the SAT is the more traditional choice, many students find the ACT, with its broad range of topics (including science), to be a better indicator of their skills and knowledge.
- Purchase test prep materials. You can go the traditional route and buy a book with "hot SAT words" and sample test questions; you could also use interactive websites, like Grockit, to become accustomed to the types of questions you'll be asked on the SAT/ACT.
- Take diagnostic tests. After you purchase test prep materials, you should take one of the supplied mock tests. This step is important: it'll help you identify which sections of the SAT/ ACT you need to improve most.
- Make vocabulary flashcards. If you're stuck inside on a rainy day, look up the top SAT words online, grab some index cards, and make your own flashcards. Making your own cards will help you remember the words more than if you were to buy pre-made ones.
- Create a double-entry study sheet with equations. If math isn't your strong suit, you may need to study math equations more than you would like. But, if you remember your math from pre-algebra through introductory trigonometry, you'll be much less stressed on test day.
- Create a three month study plan. A three month study plan will look different for everyone, as it depends on individual weaknesses. Still, there are some things that every student can do to make sure they're thoroughly prepared for the SAT/ACT.
o First: Review 10-15 "hot" SAT words each day. This shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes, but it's the best thing you can do to prepare for both the Reading and Writing portions of the SAT. (It'll also help on the ACT.) Plus, studying vocabulary can even be done on the beach! Make sure you create piles for "Words I Know," "Words I Kind of Know," and "Need to Study More."
o Second: Know what types of questions are on the test. This doesn't mean that you should know the SAT has Reading, Writing and Math sections. Instead, it means you should know, for example, the types of reading comprehension questions the test-makers write.
o Third: Complete 10-12 sample SAT/ACT problems every other day. You should focus on the sections you feel the least confident in, while never neglecting to practice your strengths, too.
o Last: Find the time to do 2 or 3 mock tests before test day. You should probably take one at the start of your second month studying. The other one you should take approximately 2 weeks before the test. Use these mock tests to chart your progress and to figure out which sections of the SAT/ACT you need to spend more time studying.
Besides taking mock tests and creating your flashcards, none of the above keys to scoring well on the SAT/ACT should take longer than 30 minutes on a single day. By pacing your studying throughout the summer, you'll memorize more vocabulary, know the types of questions you'll be asked, and (hopefully) get admitted to your top choice! Good luck.