Taking tests like the ACT and SAT can be very, very stressful. You may feel like your applications are riding on these results. You may have test anxiety in general. Studying for these tests is different than studying for a class final or mid-term because they cover so much information and require you to use a lot of different skills in a short span of time. Here are a few ways to prepare your mind and body for what is probably the most anticipated Saturday morning of your high school career.
Get rest. I know you hear this all the time, but sleep is so good for you! In the weeks leading up to the test, not just the night before, make sure you are sleeping enough each night. It’s hard with homework, applications, extra-cirricular activities, and a social life, but even a nap here and there will add up.
Practice! There are FREE online tests you can take and SAT/ACT practice books you can buy at bookstores. Practice different subjects each day, in addition to taking an entire practice exam as though it were the real deal (time yourself, take a break where noted, etc.). These practice exams really pay off. You’re exercising your brain and training it to jump between subjects quickly. The real test will be much less stressful after the practice ones because it will be familiar.
If you need more incentive to practice the SAT, keep in mind that by registering for and taking the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) you become eligible for the National Merit Scholarship, just by practicing for your SAT! Cool!
ACT or SAT? Make sure you know which test scores your top schools want from you. Some schools require the ACT while others require the SAT or SAT II. The SAT II is a more specialized test offered in a variety of subjects.
Register in time! The SAT is offered several times a year and the deadline is usually about 30 days in advance. Check the SAT College Board Homepage for more information on how to register.
Whatever you do, don’t cheat on an exam. That would be stupid. A large cheating scandal that broke last fall in New York City ended with 20 students being arrested (Goodbye, colleges that accepted me!) and new security measures for students taking the SAT (Hello, multiple forms of photo identification!). Steer clear of cheating, and you’ll do great.
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