Preparing for the SAT and ACT Tests

With High School Junior and Seniors getting ready to get back to school in the coming weeks comes the need for these student and their parents to start thinking about their life and career options once they graduate. If college or university is something they are striving for they need to start looking at what schools need from them such as standardized academic test results. The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and ACT (American College Testing) tests are designed to gauge your college readiness. Getting into a desired college can possibly give you the edge in your career, but preparing for the SAT or ACT can be a very intimidating prospect. The first thing to remember is that you can take the exam more then one time. If you plan well enough in advance you can complete the test more than once before you need to apply to colleges/universities. So relax…nerves are your worst enemy in an exam.

As the SAT‘s publisher states “The SAT and other College Board tests are offered several times a year. Most students take the SAT for the first time during the spring of their junior year and a second time during the fall of their senior year.” Currently, the following are SAT testing dates for 2012-13:

  • October 6
  • November 3
  • December 1
  • January 26
  • March 9
  • May 4
  • June 1

Remember that you need to register to complete the exams almost 3 weeks before these dates and there are fees.  Registering on the College Board site does allow you to sign-up for one of these tests and provides a host of free information and the ability to take a real sample SAT test. Be aware though that you will get a load of information from colleges etc. once you register. Remember that your guidance office can also provide information and often answer questions about the tests, dates, and college requirements.

The second thing to remember is that Practice, Preparation, Review and Tutoring will help you score better.  Tutors are useful because they are able to help plan a schedule that is realistic, and will ensure that you are as prepared as you can possibly be. Tutors will also look at your study methodology. So many students are really bright, but because they have never learned effective study methods, their grades don’t reflect their true talent. A tutor can help you improve your memory and use techniques that make it easier to learn large volumes of information.

Tutors will also help you with exam techniques and how to best answer SAT and ACT questions. Planning your exam strategy will ensure that you have enough time to answer all the questions. Most importantly, a tutor can review your knowledge and identify the missing blocks in your foundation of information and skills. Filling in these missing blocks will help you to take on anything that the SAT and/or ACT throw at you.

Once you are confident in your knowledge of the basics, you need to start taking practice tests. There are a number of books that offer SAT assistance and can be found at book stores such as Barnes & Noble. The official book for the SAT is the College Board’s ‘Official SAT Study Guide‘. There are a plethora of online test sites where you can look at previous test examples. These are listed below for you. Taking practice tests is essential to success. Some of the test questions are tricky and the way in which they ask questions will be very different from what you are accustomed to. This can really trip you up if you are not adequately prepared.

It’s also essential to know how marks are distributed so that you can be sure to maximize your score and spend enough time on each aspect of the answer. There is a very particular way in which to answer these questions, so make sure you practice them.

It’s also important to know that the ACT and SAT question methodologies differ greatly. Doing well on one will not guarantee a good result on the other. This means that if you struggled with the SAT, the way they ask the questions on the ACT might suit you better.

For the best chance at getting into the college you want, it is advisable to do both tests. Just remember that even though you can take the test more than once, all of your test scores are recorded and will be available to your college entrance board.

Useful Test Prep Sites
Test Prep Practice
Test Prep Review

(Note: This post was adapted from the Tutor Doctor blog posted on Aug 21’st titled ‘How to Prepare for the SAT and ACT tests‘)


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Filed under Academic Advice, Learning Resources, Test

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