For those striving to attend college after high school, you all know you need to take the SAT/ACT (see which one your university requires before you take the one you prefer) and to attend amazing universities, you need exceptional scores in order to even be considered.
The ACT is curriculum-based (English, math, reading, science and an optional writing section), while the SAT is more of an aptitude test focused on vocabulary, reading comprehension, general reasoning and problem-solving skills.
If you have a hard time staying focused for long periods, the ACT may be the test for you. It’s shorter, generally more straightforward and there are more knowledge-based questions. English and math are a part of both tests, but the content and orientation is different.
The SAT focuses more on vocabulary and the ACT concentrates on grammar, punctuation and syntax. The ACT includes science and trigonometry, neither of which is found on the SAT.
I plan on taking the SAT on March 14 (the last day to register is Feb 13) and the ACT on February 7th (Last day to register is Jan 9th) and it really does require as much studying as you can get and also time management in order to do well and finish your sections. If you’re planning on taking it and don’t know where to start, please continue reading. I’ll list a few tips and helpful books you can use to study in order to prepare.
1. Make a College Board account
College Board does everything from AP testing to SAT/ACT testing. Making an account will keep you up to date on test wise and you can also start making your college profile. This site keeps you well organized, keeps you up with SAT dates and you will also use it to sign up for the SAT. They also provide the SAT Question Of The Day, which tests your skills in critical reading, writing and mathematics to see where you stand in each category. These questions become very useful when studying for the SAT so you’ll know what you need to work on the most. Its also important to make an account in order to know what your scores are and if you took the PSAT, your scores should be under “My College QuickStart”
2. Study at least 15 minutes each day.
Although it doesn’t seem like much, it really does pay off on the day of the test. For SAT/ACT books that provide tests, each section is usually 15 minutes. (Luckily on the test, most of the sections are at least 20 minutes long). If you have bad timing, this will allow you to improve your time management skills that’ll be much needed when attempting to answer all the questions.
3. Brush up on your vocabulary
This will become very handy in the critical reading section, writing section and the essay for the ACT . In some passages in the critical reading section, they’ll explain one or two words that are italicized but most you need to know on your own. For the fill in the blanks questions, there will also be vocabulary words that you never even know existed which is why its important to study vocabulary. With broad vocabulary, you can also write an amazing essay. Instead of mix, you can use amalgamate. explained or exclaimed instead of said. You can make an ordinary essay extraordinary by using descriptive vocab(:
4. Mark questions you got wrong or don’t understand
When doing this, you can learn how to do the process to get the right answer. This especially applies to the mathematics section since its the section most students have trouble with (including myself haha)
5. Improve reading and writing speed
This applies to tip #2. In the critical reading sections, there are mixtures of short passages, double passages and long passages. Its key to know your reading speed and also improve it if you can. For the writing (essay section) you only get 25 minutes to write an essay. Take at least 5 minutes brainstorming what the prompt is asking you and then begin to write. DO NOT start writing immediately because there is a chance you’ll take gaps between the essay to think about what else to write and the clock is not going to wait for you. Also you only get two pages to write on, so if you tend to ramble or write like a dinosaur (me xD) make the essay short, simple and sweet.
6. Improve on your guessing
As you advance towards the end of the sections in the SAT, you’ll notice the difficulty level has drastically increased. With this, guessing does come in handy if you have 5 minutes until the end of the section. Crossing out one or two answers can improve your chances on getting the answer correct. You can learn more about guessing in the books I will list later below.
7. Register EARLY!
Trust me, it’ll pay off, literally lol. If you register early, you only have to pay $50 (unless you’re able to get a free waiver. Talk to your counselor at your school and ask about the SAT fee waiver to take it for free) for late registration it’ll cost $77 and you’ll probably get a testing location far from your home. Its best to register early and get the best testing location possible. It takes about 20 minutes to register and make sure that EVERYTHING is correct, especially your name. You cant change your name in the settings, you have to call College Board for that. Once you have registered, you need to print out your ticket. DO NOT lose that ticket on the day of the test, they will not let you in. Make sure you have a valid picture on the ticket and an ID with you also.
8. Take the tests more than once
Unless you’re happy with the score that you got, but if you would like to improve, it doesn’t hurt to take the test again! You’re putting all this studying in anyway, so put it to good use! 😀
Practice tests are extremely important. Not only do they help to get you comfortable with the test, they also help show your weak points.
– ACT practice test::http://www.actstudent.org/sampletest/
– SAT practice test::http://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-practice-test
Ask your parents to also sign you up for classes locally because those are really helpful. The thing I like about them is that they make you do the work when you wouldn’t otherwise if you were by yourself.
10. Set a goal, but be realistic about it.
For the most part, it’s going to be near-impossible to make a perfect score the first time you take the test.
– Make sure you goal is reasonable, and something you can work towards.
11. A day of rest.
The day before you take the ACT/SAT, don’t do any kind of studying. Give your brain a nice rest; go to bed early and have a nice carb filled breakfast the next morning.
DURING THE TEST
\\ Read the directions completely and carefully! You don’t want to miss any important information.
\\ Read the questions carefully. Make sure to look for words such as except, false, true, etc.
\\ Pace yourself. You do want to rush, but you don’t want to run out of time either.
\\ Answer the easy questions first. If you come across a question you don’t know, come back to it later. If you still don’t know the answer, rule out the wrong answer and make an educated guess.
\\ If you have time left over when you’re finished, then go back and check your answers.
1.) Up Your Score
This book not only explains the tests clearly, but it also has snippets of humor so you wont just be reading about it. I recommend this book for those who have a difficult time trying to read a book without getting distracted since it provides humorous jokes and stories throughout.
2.) The Official SAT Study Guide
If you’re planning to take the SAT in the fall, I would suggest on getting this book now. This book is over 1000 pages but it provides much needed and useful information and also include tests to enhance your skills. There are also videos on YouTube that use this book which is helpful in order to take a break from the book and watch a video.
3.) Boot Camp For Your Brain
This book is functional for this who have taken the SAT in the past. If you weren’t happy with your last scores and want to improve them, I would suggest getting this book. This book is also a good substitute from “The Official Guide” but both work very well(:
1.) Cracking the ACT/SAT
It’s so easy and understandable and if you really need the breakdown of the tests, you should really get this.
Well that’s about it. I really hope you guys found this helpful in order to get started on preparing. Taking 15-20 minutes out of the day is not much and it’ll be worth it when you get a high score on the SAT and get into the college/university of your dreams. Good luck on studying and taking the test, if you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment below.