7 Steps to Prepare for the SAT or ACT

on April 13, 2016

Tests have a way of sneaking up on you...before you know it, it's time to start filling in those bubbles with your No. 2 pencil. 

Don't let yourself forget about the ACT or SAT until the last minute! Here are a few tips to help you get started early and increase your score.

1. Write Out a Plan on a Calendar


Get yourself an old-fashioned paper calendar and hang it up in your bedroom or study space so you'll see it every day! Mark the date six or eight weeks before the test - that date is the absolute latest you should start studying. 

Use your calendar to write down goals for yourself every week. Maybe you'll start brushing up on your vocabulary one week and revisit math topics you've forgotten the next. Having a plan makes studying much easier. 

2. Consider a Class or Book


If you're able to take an ACT or SAT prep class, do it. These can be extremely helpful, especially if you're a nervous tester.

Don't have the resources or time for a preparation class? See if your school offers standardized test information or tutoring sessions. Some high schools offer these for free in the mornings or after school and they can be a great way to brush up on your knowledge and feel more comfortable. 

There's also the option to get an ACT or SAT prep book. This will have some helpful tips and practice tests so you can become familiar with the subject matter and types of questions you'll see on test day.

3. Use the Study Method That Works for You


Everyone learns differently. Some people learn visually, others learn by listening and more can only understand topics by actually doing or teaching them. If you know what works for you, use those study methods and don't waste too much time trying new strategies. 

If you're not sure how you learn best, try a variety of things. It will probably become clear pretty quickly which study methods work best for you.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice


Whether you're using a study book or doing it on your own, take as many practice tests as you can. Feeling comfortable with the test structure, time limits and subject matter are key to getting a score you're proud of. The more you can practice, the better off you'll be.

5. Find a Study Buddy


Tests don't have to be boring! Find a friend who's taking the test around the same time as you and study together. It's easy to get distracted, so set an agenda for each study session. Maybe you'll quiz each other on vocab words for 20 minutes before reviewing the math questions you both got wrong on a practice quiz. Whatever your plan is, stick to it so you actually get some studying done!

6. Get Enough Sleep


You've heard this before, but it's true! Go to bed early for an entire week before the test. That way you're sure to be well rested and ready to tackle any difficult questions by the time it's time to get started.

7. Prepare Everything You Need the Night Before


There's no point in rushing around and getting stressed the morning of the test. The evening before your SAT or ACT, set aside your pencil, ID, glasses and anything else you may need and put everything you're taking with you in a place you won't forget it. The calmer you are that morning, the more confident and comfortable you'll feel when you walk into the testing room. Confidence really is key, and you don't want something silly like not being able to find your bag to mess it up!

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