How to Prep for the SAT and ACT At the Same Time

Are you considering taking both the SAT and ACT? It is possible to prep for both together, but you definitely need a game plan if you’re going to do your best on both tests. These tips will help you develop a strategy that will cut down on stress and help you reach your potential on your test days.

A student reads a book while a laptop rests on her legs as she studies for the SAT and ACT

Focus First on the Overlap

The SAT and ACT do have some overlap. Both have reading sections, for example. The ACT has English and the SAT has Writing – there can be some overlap here, too. Focusing on these first can help you cover both bases. The questions aren’t exactly the same, but studying for one area of reading or writing can assist you with prep for the other exam and vice versa.

However, the ACT has science and the SAT, math. You likely will need some math for the ACT portion, but there is a larger split here.

Set Time Aside for Each Test

While focusing on the overlap is definitely a good starting point, you don’t want to ignore the math or science sections of the exams. Or the very important differences between reading, English, and writing on the different tests!

You need to find balance in studying for the ACT or SAT. If you spend a few days studying for the SAT, the next few should be dedicated to the ACT – or a different kind of swap works for you! You may need to tweak your strategy as you go along, too. No matter which approach you take, you want to become familiar with the different formats and types of questions.

Know Your Test Dates

Next up is knowing your test dates for each exam. Although your initial focus may be on both exams, you’ll want to focus on one over the other as the date for each particular test approaches.

If you’re taking the SAT first, for example, you should switch your focus to mainly the SAT in the final weeks leading up to your test date. Take this time to seriously study math, while keeping on top of reading and writing.

After your SAT, you can focus all your energy on the ACT and particularly the science section. The prep you did for the SAT will help your further studying for the ACT, too.

Tip: It’s a good idea to schedule a gap between the two exams. Give yourself time for a break and a chance to change your study focus. Two to three weeks can be ideal, but decide what is best for you.

How to Prep for the SAT and ACT At the Same Time

Before you decide to take the ACT and SAT, it’s important to decide whether it’s for you. Some students may find the intense studying needed doesn’t fit their schedule. However, if you need to take both for any reason or you simply want to, crafting a strategy as you get started can help ensure you’re doing the best you can on both tests.

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