How much time should you spend on test prep for the ACT or SAT? The answer to that question depends on the type of learner you are and how you study best.
Everyone has their own preferences and test prep strategies for studying. Some start studying weeks or months in advance, while others study the night (or morning) before.
But what if you totally spaced it and just remembered you’re taking it next Saturday? Or, if you happen to be a professional procrastinator, like me. Is there still a point to studying at all?
If you don’t plan on spending a ton of time “studying”, read through these 5 easy test prep tips.
1. Take an official practice test (timed)
If you aren’t planning on spending much time studying, at least be familiar with the test format. Taking a practice test will help prevent any surprises come test day.
When you take your practice test, make it as realistic as possible. This means no cell phone, no extra breaks, and set a timer! Try to use a room where you won’t be interrupted or distracted by anything.
2. Go over the questions you missed
After you’ve taken your practice test, go over the questions you missed. Since you don’t have much time to prepare, it doesn’t make sense to study all of the content.
If you find that you’ve missed more questions in one particular subject, spend more time there. You can find articles about different tips and strategies for each test section here.
Try to get inside the heads of the test makers. The questions usually have similar structures. Once you’ve mastered that, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a test-taking ninja.
3. Double-check your timing and have a plan
Did you finish each section on your practice test? Or did you have an entire set of unfilled bubbles? On a scale of one (I spent 15 minutes on one hard question) to ten (I finished early and went back over my answers), how was your pacing?
Being able to use your time wisely on the ACT and SAT can help increase your score. Having a plan will also help. Skip the hard questions and go back to them.
Neither the new SAT or ACT has a score penalty for wrong answers. If you hear the 5-minute warning and still have a lot of blank answer bubbles, fill them in. You’re more likely to get points for a randomly bubbled answer than if the bubble remains empty.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep before taking the test is one of the easiest ways to prepare for the ACT and SAT. When you are well rested you can focus on things other than the fact that you’d love a nap.
You’ll be able to concentrate better. And you won’t fall asleep reading a hundred passages on the test.
5. Eat breakfast and dress comfy
Fuel your brain. Eat your breakfast. There’s nothing more distracting than hunger. You feel it, but the rest of the classroom will hear it (growling tummy).
I’ve also heard that orange juice helps speed up neuron communication. Something with the sugar maybe? It goes with breakfast so it’s worth a shot, right?
Oh, and if you usually have a cup of coffee before school, don’t skip it on test day.
Something else to consider the morning of test day–what you’re going to wear. The comfier you are, the better off you’ll be–just don’t come in your PJs. Dress in layers. I always freeze in classrooms. The air is on full blast or the furnace is off for the weekend and it’s freezing outside. There’s usually no in-between.
I guess what I’m trying to get across here is that you should wake up and get ready for the day. Eat something that will keep you full and awake (whole grains and protein), and wear something that will be comfortable (not what you slept in the night before) while sitting in a desk for 4 or 5 hours straight.
Even if you’re a last-minute prepper, there are simple things you can do to help you be successful.
Happy studying, and good luck!