Tests aren’t the only thing colleges consider in admissions, but most do use them to some degree. ACT and SAT prep can be stressful but it’s important. So how can you improve your score? Here are a few tips that have worked for me.
Pre ACT or SAT
I recommend taking the Pre ACT or Pre SAT through your school if they offer it. These will give you an idea of the format and types of questions, and will give you an idea of how to study.
Once you get these scores back, create a target range based on how you want to improve. Say you want to score two more points on the ACT. You can design a plan to get those two points.
A great resource of SAT prep is www.khanacademy.org. You can download your PSAT or SAT scores from college board, and an individualized plan will be made for you. It’s easy to set reminders for daily practice and take full-length practice tests.
You can also create an account with ACT and they will send you links to help study. I personally like to use Barron’s study books. It comes with tips and practice tests and it can be synced up online.
Speaking of practice tests, take these. They are your friend. The more familiar with style and format of the questions, the more comfortable you will be on test day. These will also allow you to work out pacing so you can get a feel for how long you have on each section.
Once you take a practice test, you know how much you need to work to reach your goal. I did not have very far to go, so I set aside 15 minutes a day to watch a review video, such as the ones on khan or simply on youtube. I recommend the Green Brothers and their CrashCourse channel for help with statistics and basic literature review. Simply type in crash course and the subject you need to review.
After you watch this video, do some practice questions related to it in your book or online to ensure that you understood the topic. If you find you are still confused, try asking a friend or teacher if they can help you figure out where you went wrong.
Do your research
Check into the colleges you are looking into. Do these colleges require SAT subject tests or SAT/ACT with writing? If they do, be sure to prepare for these extra parts of the tests.
Sit down with your English teacher and ask them to go over ACT writing format with you. And try writing some practice essays so you can perfect the format in the time you are given.
Get yourself motivated to take the tests as well. It can be scary, but they are not the only thing colleges look at! Just view them as a way to show what you know at a glance. Viewing it as a part of the process, not the whole process, will make it less stressful and easier to focus on.
I also recommend alternating between English and math so you can get both skills in before the test without taking a break on either. Maybe alternate every week or every two days, whatever works best for you.
Many of my friends did not study, and when talking to them, they all said they wished they would have. Simply looking over a couple formulas could have boosted their score and just 10-15 minutes a day spent on videos and practice would have helped them gain confidence they said.
Finally, remember that your teachers have been preparing you for this for years, so go in with confidence, because you can do it!