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Making Your SAT and ACT Test Prep Strategy Effective: 5 Tips to Keep in Mind

Home » Blog » Making Your SAT and ACT Test Prep Strategy Effective: 5 Tips to Keep in Mind

The SAT and ACT are widely known for being high-stakes tests. The score a student receives can have a direct effect on college admissions outcomes and available scholarship opportunities, so students naturally view these tests as stressful hurdles to get through when preparing for life after high school. The good news is that preparing for the SAT and/or the ACT does not have to be a daunting task. Students can plan their test prep strategies in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes effectiveness. 

If you are a student who wants to optimize your test prep plan, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind: 

Start Your Test Prep Early

Procrastination can be a large source of stress, and it can also dilute the impact of any test prep efforts. There is quite a bit of material covered on both the SAT and the ACT, so trying to cram in study time at the last minute is not the most beneficial course of action. Additionally, effective test prep also focuses on learning how to master the test format rather than only focusing on improving comprehension of the material. Both goals are important, so do yourself a favor and give yourself enough time to get a solid handle on these crucial elements. 

It’s ideal to start preparing for the SAT/ACT during your sophomore year of high school. This will give you adequate time to take the test multiple times if you want to improve your score. Regardless of when you start thinking about the SAT/ACT, early and consistent prep will take you much further than rushed, sporadic studying will, and it will also help keep your stress levels down. 

Set Clear and Realistic Goals

You will also benefit from breaking your test prep strategy into clear and manageable goals. If your overall goal is to earn a specific score on your SAT/ACT, breaking down your study plan into small and realistic targets will help you achieve your primary one. For instance, your first goal may be to establish a baseline score by taking a practice test. If your practice score indicates that you struggled with the math section, you can set a goal of raising your practice test math score by a specific date. For example, you may plan to raise your SAT math score by 70 points in three weeks. During those three weeks, you can schedule time periods to study specifically for that section, such as by setting aside one hour every other day. By breaking down your strategy into these manageable increments, you will feel less overwhelmed while accomplishing much more than you would if you simply focused on your broader objective. 

Take an ACT and/or SAT Proctored Practice Test

Studying the major concepts covered on the SAT/ACT is an important part of doing well on your test, but adjusting to the test structure and environment is also an important factor in achieving success. One of the best ways to prepare for your SAT/ACT is to take an officially proctored practice test. There are many free self-administered options available, and utilizing these can be valuable when it comes to establishing a baseline score and assessing progress. However, enrolling in an officially proctored session can help you better prepare for your test by allowing you to practice in an environment that mimics what you will actually experience. The sections will be timed and, in most cases, you will receive a detailed analysis of your score along with helpful, personalized feedback. 

Utilize Peers’ Experience and Advice

Peers who have taken the SAT/ACT can serve as excellent sources of information. They’ve experienced firsthand what the test covers and what the test environment is like, and they often accrue valuable insight and are able to dispense helpful advice. If you know any peers or family members who have recently taken the SAT/ACT, don’t be afraid to reach out with questions. Asking what they found most surprising or what they’d do differently in the future can help you better fine-tune your own test prep strategy. 

Find an ACT/SAT Test Prep Tutor 

Test prep tutors have first-hand experience with how these tests work, and they are also experts on the test material. Working with an SAT/ACT test prep tutor can be extremely advantageous in increasing your odds of earning a satisfactory score. A quality tutor will be able to identify the most important areas for you to direct your focus, help you grasp any concepts you may be struggling with, and provide guidance and strategies that are specific to the format of the test. The test may seem mysterious to you, but test prep tutors know how the SAT and ACT work inside and out. Having someone with this level of experience guide you through the process can lead you to feel profoundly more confident and prepared once the day of your test arrives. 

Closing Thoughts

The SAT and ACT are regarded as high-stakes tests for a good reason. The score you earn  can influence which schools accept your application and whether or not you have access to significant scholarship funds. That said, you can reduce your stress level and maximize your test prep effectiveness by creating a strategy that is well thought out. By starting your test prep efforts early, setting practical and manageable goals, taking an officially proctored practice test, learning from your peers’ experiences, and finding an expert test prep tutor, you will have equipped yourself with helpful resources that should go a long way in setting you up for test-day success. Good luck!

Prep for Your SAT and/or ACT with the Test Prep Experts at CollegeDrive!

Here at CollegeDrive, we have a proven track record of helping our students successfully prepare for the SAT and ACT. Our passionate instructors are highly experienced with the format and material of these tests, and they go above and beyond to ensure every student they work with feels confident and prepared to achieve success. 

If you’re interested in private SAT/ACT tutoring, test prep classes, or an officially proctored practice test, we can help. Sign up for one of our courses today, or get in touch with any questions. We are here to help you reach your greatest potential!

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