Before you start prepping for your tests, its important to know what test(s) you want to take. My advice is to take a practice ACT and SAT and compare your scores and see which test had a relatively higher score. Whichever one was your highest, start prepping for that. You can definitely prep for and take both but seeing as all colleges accept both, its in your best interest to send your best one and not waste time studying for two tests. Since I chose the ACT, I will be giving mostly ACT advice as well as some general testing advice.
GENERAL TESTING TIPS
- After you pick your test; determine your goal score. If you want to be a competitive applicant to Ivies and similar schools, your ACT should be 30+ and your SAT should be 2100+. Please note that these are not definite numbers; people with lower scores can and will get in, I am only speaking generally in regard to the applicant pool.
- Take a practice test before you begin studying so you can see where you stand in terms of your score. How far away from your target score are you? If you aren’t too far, self studying should suit you well. However, if you have a quite a way to go, it might be beneficial to get a tutor.
- Practice as much as you can! this is the best way for you to get a hang of the test and how you should go about taking it. People always ask me how I studied for the ACT and in all honesty, once you get the basics of multiple choice questions down, the only thing that will help you is taking practice tests
- Review your practice tests! Don’t just do them and toss them aside, look over your mistakes and understand why you got them wrong. This is crucial in making sure you dont make the same mistakes in the future and get a better score
- Keep in mind that the higher your initial score is, the harder it is to raise it. For example, if you got a 30 on the ACT the first time but you want a 34, its going to be a lot harder than going from a 25 to a 29. Just because its hard, though, doesn’t mean its impossible.
- Start prepping for these tests as soon as you can. The earlier you start, the more time you have to get the score you want. If you wait till the end of junior year, you will get stressed to the max with all thats going on aside from testing.
- Time: 60
- Questions: 60
- NOTE: The math section does increase in difficulty as you go however each question is still worth the same amount of points so don’t spend too much time on any one question.
- Review! Out of all the sections, reviewing material is going to be most beneficial on this section since it is the only section that actually tests knowledge. Khan Academy is the best place to review math.
- My approach: Go through the section and answer only the questions you immediately know how to solve. Then go back and work on the ones you were unsure on. I have found that this is the best way to manage time in this section.
- Time: 35
- Questions: 40
- NOTE: The science section does NOT test your knowledge of science but rather your ability to interpret scientific data.
- The best way to prepare for this section is take practice tests and become familiar with graphs and tables and data analysis.
- My approach: If you’re a fast reader like me, skim over the passage and get the basic idea. Look at any figures given and understand what they represent and in what units they are represented. Then look at the questions and find the short ones that have very brief answer choices; these are usually the ones that asking you to pull a data point out of the graph/table/etc that answers that question. Next, look at the questions that are asking general questions about the experiment or are comparing; these will take a bit more time but make sure you fully understand the passage when you answer them. I find it helpful to make marks on the graphs and tables when a question is talking about something in it.
- Time: 35
- Questions: 40
- NOTE: There are always four passages; each on a different subject (fiction, science, etc..)
- Practice makes perfect! Practice reading passages critically and picking up on the themes and details of the writing.
- My approach: Look through the questions and find the ones that reference a certain line; go to the passage and make a mark next to all those lines so that when you’re reading you will know to pay particular attention there. Next read the passage; don’t just skim it! Then answer the main idea questions followed by the questions asking about certain lines. Lastly, answer the questions that call for inferences from the text
- Time: 45
- Questions: 75
- NOTE: This section tests your basic knowledge but its not nearly as in depth as the SAT sections on grammar
- My approach: Take your time on this section. Answer questions as you go along and check every single answer choice before you select one. Sound out each answer choice in context; if it sounds wrong, it is most likely wrong. Keep in mind, however, that everyday speech sometimes violates certain grammar rules. Because of this, it might beneficial to look over relevant grammar rules.
Hope this helps!
-Ramya // futurecristinayang