ACT / SAT Prep Do’s and Don’ts

There’s no doubt that the ACT and SAT are big components of a college application. So it makes sense that people want to prepare for them. However, there are right and wrong ways to prep for the ACT and SAT. Check out this list of do’s and don’ts of ACT and SAT prep to make sure you’re on the right track!

A student holding a pencil over a test sheet.

DO Start Preparation Early

The earlier you start, the better. That goes for signing up, studying for, and taking the test. If you take the test your sophomore year, for example, you’ll have the chance to take it again junior year and increase your grade! And the more time you give yourself to study up, the better you’ll understand the material. Cramming never really helps.

DON’T Assume Test Prep has to be Expensive!

While there are great test prep courses, tutors, and exam prep books out there—that can definitely be worthwhile—many excellent resources are free. You can attend review sessions at school, find online help, and more! If price is a concern, you’re not out of luck, we promise.

DO Understand the Test Format

The ACT and SAT are formatted a bit differently from each other. Make sure you know ahead of time just how the tests are laid out, how many sections there are, how much time you get for each one, etc. Knowing this ahead of time will allow you to better prepare for the exam day—as well as let you know which areas you need to focus on.

DON’T Ignore the Essay Just Because it’s Optional

The ACT and new SAT both have optional writing portions. But don’t read “optional” as “unnecessary” because many colleges actually require the ACT/SAT essay as part of their application. Research the schools you’re interested in to see if you need the essay. (Even if it isn’t required, you should probably do the optional writing test anyway).

DO Consider Retaking the Test

Even if you’re proud of your score, consider taking the test again. Most people who do, get a higher score the second time around! Higher scores not only equate to a higher likelihood of being accepted into a school, but also a higher probability to qualify for scholarships and other forms of financial aid!

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