Your Guide to Getting the SAT/ACT Scores You Want
You don’t have to feel discouraged or overwhelmed when preparing for the SAT or ACT, even if you are not a good test-taker. You can improve your scores by simply setting aside enough time and developing an effective plan.
Here are some crucial tips for creating a plan for success:
Take Full-Length Practice Tests
- Build Endurance: Taking practice tests is important for building the endurance it takes to sit and concentrate for a 4-hour test. Taking a full-length test every few weeks is the best way to increase stamina. Developing strategies to deal with test exhaustion and learning to pace yourself is key to doing well.
- Become Familiar with the Test: Already knowing the structure and directions for each section will give you extra minutes to spend answering questions. Having this familiarity with the test can also reduce anxiety when taking the actual test.
- Focus on Needed Areas: Taking practice tests will help you and your test-prep teacher (if you have one) figure out early on what parts of the test are harder for you, giving you more time to improve on those sections. This is an important strategy for all students: you can learn what parts of the test are most challenging for you, and develop individualized strategies to reach your specific goals.
If you start before your junior year and have a year to prepare, one of the best tips is to read as much as possible.
- Reading both fiction and nonfiction about unfamiliar subjects is the best way to exercise your brain to prepare for the test. The more you read, the more content knowledge you will have and the more likely you are to recognize the various styles of reading passages used on the test.
- Practice your active reading strategies while you read. Stop after a couple paragraphs to identify the author’s intent, evaluate the main idea and supporting details, or look up any words you don’t know. This preparation will pay off on the critical reading section of the SAT or ACT.
Study Vocabulary in Context
Gone are the days of memorizing random words on flash cards! The new formats for the ACT and SAT test vocabulary in context.
- Reading news articles and news magazines is a great way to build your vocabulary, as learners do better with hands-on strategies with real-world connections. Creating a list of words with real-world connections for each word is one of the best ways to prepare for the vocabulary-in-context questions.
Have Your Own Plan: Don’t Listen to the Rumors
There is a ton of advice about standardized tests, but…
- Don’t Believe the Myths: You will hear myths about how to get a higher score by always answering C on this type of question or about the lazy kid who never turned in his homework or lifted a finger at school who got a better score than you did. Tune out this noise!
- Don’t Compare Yourself to Others: Comparing or competing with others is the worst approach you can take, because the tests are all about you and what strategies work best for your type of brain.
- Stick to what you know: Stay with what works for you or find a tutor familiar with your learning style to help you figure out what works best for you. You can’t change how you learn in a few short weeks, but you can maximize your test-taking ability within your preferred learning approach.
Be Aware of Strategies for the Different Types of Questions
There are specific strategies for different types of questions within each section. Knowing these strategies can help you to understand how to approach different types of questions, making the test easier and improving your score.
Create a Study Plan That Works
Not all test preparation methods work for all students. Luckily, there are lots of ways to study for the SAT or ACT, such as, in a study group, teacher-led classes, 1-to-1 sessions with a tutor, or by yourself with a book. Thinking about which structure is best for each student is the best way to create a successful plan. Here are some tips for identifying the best approach for you:
- For teenagers who may need help finding a way to incorporate practice into their normal routine, signing up for a class or individual tutoring could help with realistic goal-setting, carving out time in busy calendars, and avoiding overload and burnout. Studying on one’s own with available materials works well for motivated students, who are capable of holding themselves accountable.
- Students with learning differences often need a test-preparation teacher who can help them create an individualized study plan that focuses on strengthening their areas of weakness and practicing the strategies that match their learning style.
- For students with ADD or learning differences, having a trained test-preparation coach with learning differences experience may be the best way to make sure they reach their optimal score. Trained test-preparation teachers can also work with parents to make sure students are getting the proper testing accommodations and teach students with accommodations how to take advantage of these with adapted strategy use.
Get Proper Diet, Exercise and Rest on Test Week
It may seem obvious, but many students forget or ignore this crucial tip. Prepare for test day as though you were running a marathon. The week before, make sure you eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. Drinking more than normal amounts of caffeine or sugary drinks can really throw your system out of whack, disrupt your sleep, and work against you on the day of the test. The more you maintain healthy habits, the better your brain will function when it really matters on the test day.
And, if you follow all these tips, you’ll definitely get a good night’s sleep, knowing you have done what it takes to do your best on the test!
Resource : Adapted from http://www.prepmatters.com/news-room/in-the-news/10-best-ways-prepare-sats