Do you want to plan ahead for the big test day, but don’t quite know what to prioritize?
Follow our tips for what to do months before you plan to take the ACT or the SAT.
Tip 1: Pick the test that’s right for you
First up, take a real timed practice ACT and a real timed practice SAT, then compare your scores to each other. It’ll take eight hours total, but it’s worth it. Don’t take these practice assessments on back-to-back days. You’re going to be tired after taking the first test, and you don’t want the score to be artificially lower on the second. Space out the tests over a week or two. You can locate a free ACT and a free SAT online. Take one of each, get a baseline, and then compare your scores. For more information about the ACT and SAT, you can see when they’re offered, what they test, or a detailed comparison between the two.
Tip 2: Register early
The earlier you register for either test, the more locations you can choose from. I’ll share an anecdote; students who take a standardized test at a local university hate it, and I understand why. The lecture hall where the test is offered has desks that are a foot wide. Students have to put their tests or their scantrons on their laps because the desks are so tiny. Little things like this can affect you on test day, so plan ahead to get the preferred location. Talk to your older peers or college counselors for more information about the testing centers in your area.
TIP 3: CREATE A STUDY SCHEDULE
Use your baseline test to recognize your weaknesses. Plan for what you’ll need to study, and then space out the workload based on how much you’ll need to review. See 8 Expert Tips for Mastering the ACT or SAT for more information about how to approach the exams to maximize success.
Tip 4: Take a few timed practice tests before test day
By the time you’re ready to take the real proctored test, you’ll want to have a few timed practice tests under your belt. Just be careful how close you’re getting to your actual test day. I’ve found that the best approach for my students is to take the last timed practice test three weeks out. That approach gives you plenty of time to hone in on your weaker areas before the real exam. Also important: take a few practice tests, not 20. There’s a really common (false) perception that the way to improve a score is to test test test test test. The problem with this approach is that if you don’t give yourself an opportunity to learn from your errors, you’ll keep making them. This test test test approach to practice is horrible for both your growth and confidence. When you take a timed practice exam, you should not take another timed practice exam until you have mastered your mistakes.
What ELSE CAN YOU LEARN?
Do you feel more comfortable knowing how to get organized months before the exam? Arm yourself with more knowledge of what to do the day before, the night before, the morning of, and during and after the ACT or SAT.
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