ACT / SAT Test Taking Strategies to AVOID

There’s a lot of advice out there that helps you on the SAT and ACT, but mixed in with the good advice, is some bad advice. Here are just a few test-taking strategies you should be avoiding.

A red sign that says "wrong way."

“Cramming / All-Nighter”

 Some students think study cramming works, but it can do more harm than good. Whether you’re cramming the entire time you’re studying over a few months or you pull an all-nighter, you’re not doing yourself any favors. By test day, you could be frazzled, stressed, and agitated, which certainly won’t help your grades.

Pulling an all-nighter is never advisable, for any test, project, or assignment. Sleep is a must before any big day and lack of it can put a strain on your memory. You may have read a lot of information at 3 AM, but you probably won’t be able to think clearly come exam time.

“Don’t Answer the Questions You Don’t Know”

 Back in the day, the SAT used to have a .25 point deduction for every incorrect answer. That’s done away with now and the ACT already had the practice of not deducting points. Guessing, therefore, can be in your favor. You may still get the question wrong, but you may also get it right, upping your score.

However, it’s important to approach this with a plan. You don’t want to play “Eeny, Meenie, Miney, Mo” with the multiple-choice when you still have time to consider the question. Be smart about it. Skip the questions you don’t know or find difficult and return to them after you’ve completed the section. Use strategies like process of elimination. It could narrow the choices down to two and, as a result, help you get a better score if you choose correctly.

“Don’t Bother Taking the Essay Portion”

The essay portions of the SAT and ACT are optional, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking it. That essay can have an effect on your future, believe it or not. This portion could result in a scholarship offer or even an acceptance letter if the admissions department is not quite sure about your application. Other colleges actually require it for admittance, and some may exempt you from classes if you do well.

In the end, though, taking the essay portion is up to you. However, before skipping it, make sure none of the colleges you plan to apply to require the essay. Those schools weigh the writing portion along with the other sections. They’re looking for how well you can formulate your thoughts as well as your command of the English language.

Lots of people will have advice for you when it comes to the SAT or ACT. Some of it will be great advice, while others may not work for you or some may just be bad advice in general. These are just a few tidbits you should be avoiding.

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