Standardized Test Taking Strategies To Use On The ACT/SAT

SAT ACT test prep

Flickr user Victor Bjorkund

SAT and ACT scores are a big stressor for high school students. You want to do well and show the college of your dreams you are ready to take on new challenges but you’ve done a few practice tests and they were unnerving, to say the least.

If you’re worried about your upcoming test, here are a few SAT ACT test prep strategies to keep the nerves under wraps on test day.

Before Test Day

Here’s our biggest SAT ACT test prep tip: practice, study, practice, study. Schools offer review sessions, and they are worth it. There are many online resources that won’t break the bank, too. And, if possible, take a practice test or two. This is a chance to see what it’s like without the repercussions. Evaluate these strategies and see which works best for you. Test yourself to see which areas of the test you can improve upon.

The night before your ACT or SAT is not the best time to pull an all-nighter with your best friend. Your priority is to make sure to get plenty of rest and eat a good breakfast in the morning. The more you can focus on the questions in front of you and not a growling belly or sleep-deprived headache, the better your results.

Test Day

Wake up early enough to feel relaxed. If you wake up late and find yourself in a frenzy, it may show in your test results. Show up at the test calm, cool, and collected.

During the Test

This is a timed test, so it makes sense to answer the easiest questions first. If you come across a question that has you struggling, mark it for later, then skip it and move on. Come back to it when you have reached the end of the section and have more time. Then, you can take more time on the more challenging questions without worrying about those “other “questions.

Sometimes reading the answers first helps you to process the correct answer as you read the question. This doesn’t work for every question, but can be helpful in the reading sections. If you know what to look for when you read the selection, then it is easier to answer the questions. Remember, the first and last sentence of a paragraph is the specifics and can help you find what you are looking for when you are scanning for information.

Trying to eliminate those answers that you know are incorrect. The fewer choices you have to pick from the easier it is to narrow it down to the correct one. If you are down to two and still don’t know, guess. It is better to take a guess than leave it blank. There is no penalty for guessing.

Finally, don’t be afraid to write in the book. Circle words, underline, annotate, and use it as scratch paper. It is your book and you can mark it up.

Although this test is timed, it is not a race. So pace yourself and keep an eye on the time. If you find that time is running out and you haven’t finished the section, it is okay to guess. Remember there is no penalty for guessing. One answer is better than no answer.

After the Test

Time to relax. What’s done is done. You can now sit back and wait for your results.

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