How to Have The Ideal ACT / SAT Practice Test Session

Male student studying at desk.

Flickr user Kennedy Library

Taking a practice test of the ACT or SAT before the real deal can truly give you insight into how the test works in real time. Studying is great and all, but if you’re not using your time wisely and leaving space to review your work, you could run into trouble. Here are some ways to have the ideal ACT or SAT practice test session.

Don’t Peek Ahead of Time

You may be tempted to flip through the practice test questions. Don’t! You want to go into the test blind, the same way you would if you were taking the real deal. Seeing questions beforehand gives you time to turn the potential answers over in your head for a while. You won’t have this advantage later on.

Set The Same Timers

During the SAT or ACT you will have specific time limits for each section. During your at home practice test session, you want to follow these exactly. If you finish a section early, don’t skip ahead and start the next one. Go back and review your work or answer the more difficult questions until the timer runs out. Then continue on to the next section. Following these to a T will allow you to get a real feel of how much time you personally have for each question within a subject.

Make sure your timers include the breaks as well! You will need those breaks to give your mind a breather.

Ask To Be Left Alone and Focus

If your family regularly chats with you even when you’re doing homework or you get texts from friends, it’s time to put all of this on hold. Explain to your family you’re taking the practice exam and ask to be left alone. Turn off your cell phone, computer, and any other electronics your friends might use to reach you. This is the time to focus entirely on your practice test.

Once you sit down, it’s time to focus up. Keep your mind on the task at hand. You may be tempted to check for texts or look at social media, but to make this as real as possible, you want to stay away. Stay on task and keep all your electronics out of reach.

Take an Official Practice Test

There’s nothing like taking an official practice test to give you the real experience of sitting for the SAT or ACT. There will be teachers there to make sure you’re kept on track, you’ll have time limits for each section along with breaks, and you’ll see real questions in a similar setting.

There are other benefits to taking the official practice test too. The PSAT, for example, awards scholarships to the highest scorers.

Taking a practice test at home is entirely possible if you set up properly before hand. Setting your timers, asking to be left alone, and putting everything else in your life aside so you can focus solely on your exam is key. However, taking an official practice test can also be a valuable experience and may even result in a scholarship. And remember, you can absolutely take practice tests more than once!

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