There is a Method to the Madness: Test Prep Tips


Getting ready for the ACT and SAT test can be stressful and there are a lot of differing opinions floating around the internet about how to get ready and the best strategies for scoring high on the tests. My advice: start with the basic flaw that is the worst score killer of all: wasting time.

Think of time as "life credits" that you have to budget to make it all the way through the test while giving yourself enough time to work through the tough questions/exercises.

*Don't drive yourself crazy by rushing through the sections or torture yourself mulling over an answer that may never come to you.

*You need to put your watch to work for you way before the big test by timing yourself during practice tests (do practice tests all the time- they are like fire drills) .

*Start preparing as early as possible: a steady prep process will calm your nerves whereas last minute cramming is only going to intensify stress and make it harder to focus!

*Take advantage of practice tests and learn how to manage your minutes for the timed sections; clock yourself!

*Use tools specifically designed to get ready for the ACT  and SAT Tests: These tests are put together by independent organizations, not by your teacher or from your curriculum publisher, and may ask questions and phrase answers in a way that you are not used to seeing.

Kids from coast to coast take the ACT and/or the SAT so it tends to be sort of "one size fits all": Use SAT and ACT test tools, instead of just relying on your high school books/lesson notes, to help you learn more about the knowledge and skill sets that are going to pop-up. they are not as much measures of what you know as they are of your ability to choose the best answer.

"Must-do" list for getting ready for the SAT and/or ACT:

• Taking the PLAN (prep for ACT) and/or the PSAT (prep for SAT) during your sophomore year of high school is a great opportunity to work on your test-taking strategies and troubleshoot areas for improvement.
• Get a personal tutor who specializes in ACT or SAT preparation. They can help you master your weaker subject areas and learn time management.
• Take prep-courses, such as those offered at Kaplan; they will give you sample tests and help you ace the types of questions that trouble you.
• Buy ACT and SAT study books at the bookstore, which are full of practice tests and study tips.
• Keep up with the My College Options® Blog and resource center for the latest articles on the SAT and ACT.
• Play “Zero Hour Threat”, an ACT/SAT prep video game, to help you build your skills while having fun at the same time. Beat the game, beat the test!
• Use an ACT or SAT test preparation booklet (My College Options offers preparation for the exams in two books—The Essential Guide to the SAT and The Essential Guide to the ACT).

Relieving Anxiety on the Day of the Test

• Bring a watch. Time management is up to you! The proctors tell you how much time you have for each section, when to start, when to stop, and when you have five minutes left. You should pay attention to how long you are taking on the questions and pace yourself during the test.
• Manage your time.  Move through each section calmly. Answer the questions that come easiest to you first and return to the “stumpers” as you work toward the end.
• Use the process of elimination. You can usually narrow your choices down to two possible correct answers. That will give you a 50% chance of answering the questions correctly.


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