Preparing for the SAT and ACT can be a stressful process. Everyone understands the implications that test scores hold, and their importance for college placement. Check out these tips to make sure you’re ready to maximize scores on the tests:
Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to improve their scores on standardized testing is spending equal time studying across all subjects. The SAT and ACT are composite testing scores, meaning that your score will be an average of all different materials tested. For the SAT, this is Reading, Writing and Language, Math, and an optional essay segment. For the ACT, it is English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning, and an optional essay. One low score on a certain section can drag your composite score way down, so it’s important to make sure you are solid across all subjects before taking the test. Also, it makes sense to spend the most time studying your weakest subject, as it’s much easier to make a drastic change in score from a below-average subject than to greatly increase a score in a subject that is already your strong suit. Working with a learning center like Mathnasium can also provide you with an advantage because they provide each student with a test prep curriculum customized to your specific needs.
Take Practice Tests
Nothing can replicate the feeling of total preparedness going into the SAT and ACT. There are all kinds of practice tests that are available, and they’re definitely worth the price. Practice tests will have you feeling completely comfortable with the material that is on the tests, and these practices do a very good job of replicating what you’ll see on the actual test. Familiarity is hugely important come test day, not only will you be expecting the types of questions to come, but you also will be much more relaxed and focused, knowing that there won’t be any surprises ahead of you.
Leave Yourself Time to Study
When practicing the ACT and SAT, it can be easy to lose yourself in the hours of studying and become frustrated and exhausted. Make sure you lay out a reasonable study plan that won’t drive you crazy by the second day of preparation. A fresh mind is important when getting ready for these tests, and if you’re forcing yourself to study while you’re already exhausted, it’s likely you won’t retain much of the information you’re taking in. Make sure you start preparing for the test well before the actual date, so that you’re not stressing and cramming the night before taking it. Set small and reasonable goals for yourself with your study plan, and allow yourself to relax and have a small reward for each successful studying session.
For anyone to achieve success on the ACT or SAT, it’s essential to believe that you’re going to achieve success before you sit down with that #2 pencil. Preparedness is essential, so is studying the right way. But another method of making sure that test day goes according to plan is making it a habit. Lay a plan out for yourself. What you are going to eat the night before? What time you are going to wake up in the morning? What you are going to wear? Have a plan that includes every possible variable leading up to test time. This plan will make you feel like you’ve already had a bunch of small successes (and no added stressors), and that everything is going according to plan. The only thing that will be left once you get to that testing facility is to complete the plan, and ace the test that you know you’re prepared for.