It’s almost summertime! That means warmer weather, family vacation, and—you guessed it—SAT and ACT preparation.
Sound daunting? It is. More and more kids are going to college, meaning there is more and more competition out there. You’re not just up against your classmates; you’re up against kids from around the world with a variety of different experiences.
When I applied to college, I noticed there was a lot of advice floating out there about what to take and how to prepare. But that was all written by stuffy old guys somewhere who didn’t get it. Here are my tips and tricks for mastering the SAT and ACT, from someone who actually took the tests.
When to Study for the SAT and ACT
If you’re about to enter your junior or senior of high school, the time is now! Studying for the SAT and ACT is a great idea over the summer because you have so much more free time that isn’t devoted to AP classes or completing homework.
A trick I used when studying was creating flashcards. I put flashcards up all over the house—my room, the kitchen, the bathroom. That way I forced myself to stare at new vocabulary words and their definitions. I never had a paucity of ideas.
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Which is Better: SAT or ACT?
According to The Washington Post, in 2012 1,666,017 students took the ACT and 1,664,479 took the SAT. Therefore, it is split down the middle.
When applying to college, I took both tests: the SAT and the ACT. The ACT has an added portion of science questions. I am a left-brained thinker so after taking practice tests, I realized the ACT wasn’t my strongest score.
I recommend taking at least two timed practice tests. This helps you to familiarize yourself with the kind of questions the tests call for. Are you better at the SAT or the ACT? Are you right down the middle?
If your answer is “right down the middle,” go ahead and take both tests. You don’t have to send both scores to colleges if you don’t want to.
When taking both tests, it’s important to get practice and often to get tutored. Click here to sign up for guaranteed online tutoring.
When it comes down to it, the SAT and ACT are seen equally by college admissions and it’s all about finding your fit.
Tips and Tricks for Studying for the SAT and ACT
As I said before, my favorite trick is to write flashcards and post them all over your room or house.
I also suggest reading books. Read everything. Read The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN. Not only will it improve your vocabulary but it will also improve your exposure to current events. Current events can come in handy for that infamous application essay!
Study with Friends
But actually study. You’re not doing your friends any favor by skipping out on study sessions to go to the movies, and you’re certainly not helping yourself, either.
When I was studying, my boyfriend and I often got together and we’d quiz each other. Once, we made a Facebook game out of it. We posted Facebook statuses that said “We’re taking practice exams. Like my status if you think I’ll win!” That way, we had to report back, and our friends had fun guessing (plus, it’s a little bit rewarding to see that red flag with notifications go up).
I won, but he did go to Princeton University, so I’d like to think we both did.
When it comes to test day, don’t be nervous. The first time I took the SAT, I was so nervous I got sick and spent over thirty minutes out of the room. I didn’t do as well as I hoped when scores came out.
Look in the mirror and tell yourself you can do it. Really, you can! If you’ve prepared, you are ready. Brush your teeth with extra minty toothpaste, take a shower in the morning, and feel fresh and alive for test day.
I hope to see you at a Cambridge university soon.
– Erinn Pascal