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How heavily should I prepare for the Sat and Act?

I am a sophomore and want to know the best time to start to prepare for the Sats? Should I practice methods to increase my time management or learn tips to score better? #college #student

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Adam’s Answer

Great question! It is key to be proactive in studying for the SAT/ACT and beginning the studying process well before you're qualified to take it will give you that extra edge. I've always encouraged students to take both tests to open up more options for college applications/admissions/acceptance. The ACT is a more collected test meaning all the questions in each skill area are presented in one section and once completed you're done with that skill area assessment. The skill areas in the SAT are broken up so you have pockets of sections throughout the testing until complete. A way I studied for both was utilizing the practice SAT & ACT study guides and tests available for free at the local library. Another avenue is if your high school offers SAT/ACT prep courses to attend or can assign a tutor. There are also plenty of tutors that have low rates to seek out as well if your school doesn't have resources available.

A key element to achieving a high score is knowing how to take the SAT/ACT through time management. How much time you spend on a question is vital to completing sections entirely and answering questions correctly. It is best to move on from questions that have you stumped and come back to them once you've answered others you have a better grip on. Again you can fine tune your test taking through the practice tests and booklets on how to strategize correctly. The college board releases real tests in pdf form for the most up to date questions that are assigned in recent tests. Another approach is to watch Youtube videos that tutors have posted on the best strategies to achieve a perfect score. They even have videos of holistically walking through a good portion of test questions. A tip before taking the real test is to study with intention for 6-10 weeks prior to the test date for 30-40 hours a week to achieve optimal results of a 1st attempt high score.

Here is another link to gain access to the real tests released by the college board:

Best of luck and happy studying!

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Alison’s Answer

Hi Andrew!

Most students take the SATs or ACTs in the winter or spring of their junior year. These tests take mental endurance, so it’s a good idea to start studying early - think a few weeks or a few months, not a few days. Before you really dive in, I’d recommend doing two things: check out some colleges you’re interested in to see what kind of SAT/ACT scores they want to see from students, and take a practice test so you know how far you have to go to reach that goal.

Taking a practice test can not only give you an idea of how much practice you need, but also what topics you need practice with. You’ll obviously want to spend a little more time working on the areas you’re initially weakest in. Ultimately, though, in addition to reviewing the content of the test you will want to practice time management strategies as well. Remember, these are tests of mental endurance, so you’ll need to know how to make your way through them in the best way you can. Learning testing strategies and tips will help quite a bit with this. Remember, not every tip works for every student. That means as you’re doing all of those many practices that you’ll do, try each strategy at least 2 or 3 times. If it works for you - great! - keep it. If it doesn’t work for you, move on to the next tip.

Good luck with your studies and with your tests!

Alison recommends the following next steps:

SAT practice tests & resources: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/full-length-practice-tests
ACT practice tests & resources: https://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/test-preparation/free-act-test-prep.html

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Simeon’s Answer

If you can take a test preparation class, you'll be glad for the investment. These are some tests that will give you an important leg up when it comes to getting scholarships and into better schools. You can end up saving a lot of money long term if you do particularly well on the tests.