Posts Tagged ‘SAT’

Keep Calm & Study On: 5 Tips On Preparing For The SAT

The SAT is a three hour and forty-five minute exam that tests all the skills you are learning in school like reading, writing, and math. Taking the SAT exam is one of the most essential steps in the college application process that leads to eventually attending the college of your choice. It can also be one of the most intimidating initiatives. But since it’s necessary, here are five tips on how to prepare:

1. Practice Tests, Practice Tests, Practice Tests

They say practice makes perfect, right? Whether or not you’re enrolled in a SAT prep course, nothing will prepare you for the SAT as much as actually taking the SAT! So carve out some time once a week (or at least once every two weeks) to take a practice exam. Although sitting and taking a test for nearly four hours isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, it is a great idea to prepare your mind and body to be able to sit and focus for that long.

Head to the SAT College Board online for free practice tests.

2. Write Essays

The SAT exam allows you twenty-five minutes to write an essay on an assigned topic. Although it seems unlikely – it is possible to plan, construct, and proofread an essay in this short amount of time. The essay will always be the first section of the SAT exam and the prompt will touch on issues like justice, the value of knowledge, or learning from past mistakes. Practicing your essay before your exam will ensure that on the actual test day you are comfortable with this quick style of writing.

Practice with these potential essay prompts on College Board.

3. Study Up On Your Vocabulary

One word: FLASHCARDS! Brushing up on your vocabulary will be essential to succeeding on the SAT exam. No, that doesn’t mean you need to start reading the dictionary in your free time. Check out this list that Quizlet made of College Board’s most commonly used vocabulary words to sharpen up. Becoming familiar with these words will aid you during the sentence completion and reading comprehension sections.

4. Guess Or Skip?

While you’re taking the exam you will likely run into some questions that you may find confusing and others that you plainly won’t understand at all. Instead of wasting time trying to figure it out or stressing about it – just skip it. All of the questions in the SAT exam are worth the same amount of points so spend more time answering the questions you’re absolute about. One big key to SAT success is time management!

5. Difficulty Levels – Learn The Test Structure

One of the main factors in doing well on the SAT exam is understanding the fashion in which its structured. The questions on the SAT are arranged by difficulty. Basically, the questions at the beginning of the sections are easier than the ones at the end. Therefore, spending an equal amount of time on each question doesn’t really make very much sense. By answering the questions at the beginning of each section quickly, you will allow yourself more time for the difficult questions at the end.

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8 Steps to Prepare for the ACT or SAT

8 Steps to Prepare for the ACT or SAT


As a high school junior, you’re probably starting to think about studying for the SAT or ACT. Check out these eight steps you can take to get yourself pumped and prepared for your big exam!

Give Yourself Six Weeks

When it comes to standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, many find that six weeks is a good amount of time to really buckle down and start preparing. It’s enough time to really get the hang of what you’re doing, but not such a long time that you begin forgetting things. This doesn’t mean you can’t familiarize yourself with words or problems in the meantime.

Familiarize Yourself with the Test

You don’t want to study all vocabulary and algebra for the SAT, only to find out later there’s geometry as well. Similarly, you don’t want to spend too much time studying trigonometry for the ACT and completely forget there’s a reading portion. Know exactly what’s on the test, how long it takes, and what format it’s in.

Consider a Class

Taking an SAT or ACT prep course can be one of the best things you can do for your score. Even if it’s just a three hour review class offered on a Saturday, you might want to think about grabbing some of your buddies and attending!

Find Your Best Study Method

There are dozens of materials you can use to prep for these kinds of tests on your own, and it all depends on what works best for you. Review books can be bought at book stores, flash cards can be made, and online sites can offer practice problems, explanations, and advice for the big day. Try learning from multiple sources.

Baby Steps

While you may find it helpful to take a practice test at the very beginning, just to give yourself an idea of where you are without any studying at all, you probably don’t want to start with a bunch of these the first week. Instead, spend an hour each night reviewing the material and completing problems related to that material.

Review As You Go

As you begin your second and third weeks studying for the SAT or ACT, you may want to begin adding things back in that you brushed up on your first week. Keep familiarizing yourself with what you have studied, weeks after you studied it, so you can retain everything that you’re learning!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Unfortunately, just reading a list of vocabulary words and their definitions, or material on how to do an algebra problem will not be very helpful when it comes to test day. You will have to actually do practice problems. Get as much practice as you can and take practice tests from start to finish.

Know What You Need Test Day

Before going to take your exam, make sure you know when the exam starts, what to bring, and what rules to follow, as forgetting something simple like your school ID could prevent you from taking the test.

The ACT: What It Is, and Why You Should Take It



The ACT (American College Testing), is a test you can take in addition to, or sometimes in place of, the SAT depending on the college to which you are applying. In some ways, it is like the SAT, but in other ways, it’s completely different, so students who struggle with one might perform better on the other.

The Difference Between the SAT and the ACT

The SAT is made up of English, math, and writing sections, while the ACT contains English, math, reading, science, and an optional writing section. These additional categories provide an opportunity for students who aren’t as strong with vocabulary and algebra to still score well!

SAT questions are designed to be a little tricky and confusing, while ACT questions tend to be more straightforward. For this reason, the SAT allows more time for each question than the ACT. This means that students who tend to get bogged down and behind with wording might have an easier time with the ACT.

On the SAT, wrong answers convert to points scored against you. On the ACT, wrong answers don’t count as anything, which means you can guess all you want on the ACT without taking any penalty for it. Many ACT test takers like the comfort of knowing they will not be penalized for guesses. That alone can really take the stress level down a notch!

The SAT tends to focus more on algebra and geometry whereas the ACT has some of that, as well as trigonometry. Students who sometimes do poor on the SAT because of the algebra tend to be better at the geometry and trig offered on the ACT.

The SAT costs $50 while the ACT (minus the writing portion) costs $35. If you want to include the writing portion, the cost ends up being about the same as the SAT, so you’re not spending anything more to take the ACT.

The ACT is offered six times a year (September, October, December, February, April, and June) in the US. Like the SAT, there are web sites, practice tests, and review books, all designed to help you do your best. You can also retake the test more than once to work to attain the highest score possible. Registration can be done online.

If you’re unhappy with the results of your SAT score, or if you just want to try your hand at a different kind of exam, taking the ACT might just be worth a shot! With standardized testing, particularly the SAT, being under criticism for not being a true reflection of student knowledge, the ACT is believed to be better at creating a snapshot of what it is you’ve really learned in school and how prepared you are for college-level learning.