ACT, SAT and Standardized Test Tips

on January 30, 2017

Standardized testing is a fact of life in the academic world, especially for those pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree. The SAT and ACT can be daunting examinations, pitched to students as the determining factor in their future.


For schools that require standardized tests, here are a few tips to help students succeed:


Take a Class


Ask your academic advisor or school counselor for suggestions on a test-prep class. Chances are organizations like Kaplan Test Prep and The Princeton Review are hosting a class at your school or in a neighboring district. These courses, typically costly, are rigorous and provide questions from previous tests to help students succeed. 


Complete Practice Tests


If enrolled in a test-prep course, practice tests will be a requirement for completion. However, bookstores like Barnes & Noble often carry test-prep books of practice tests. Ask a friend for help and do a test-prep simulation at home to get yourself acclimated to the exam.


Be Strategic


Remember, these are timed tests. Spending 10 minutes on one question is a waste of time. Skip it, move to the next and return if there is time remaining. If you still don’t know the answer, it’s no big deal.


Depending on the test, consider if your score will improve or worsen by answering every question. For some, it’s OK to leave a question unanswered, while on other tests, any answer is better than nothing at all.


Mark Your Calendar


Consider the score you want and the score you get on the practice test before registering to take the official exam. Give yourself ample time to study and prepare. There is no need to rush yourself into a test that you are unprepared to take. Deadlines are closer than they appear, but planning ahead can reduce a lot of unnecessary stress.


Financial Planning


Let’s face it: Standardized tests are expensive. Taking the SAT once costs about $60. However, CollegeBoard offers fee waivers for students in need. Ask an academic advisor if you qualify for waived fees.


Sleep and Eat Breakfast


Gather your things the night before the test so that you aren’t scrambling the morning of the exam. The more prepared you are, the less likely you will panic when it’s time to take the test. Get a full night of rest and eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. After all your prep, it would be a shame to have a rumbling stomach interrupting your thoughts during the examination.


Olivia Lewis is a Cappex freelancer and journalist. She is currently pursing her master’s degree in the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.


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