For a long time, test prep consisted of holing up with a giant book and answering practice question after practice question. Now, online platforms offer test prep that is more convenient and interactive, making it a lot more difficult to find an excuse not to prepare.
At the same time, though, finding the right platform and developing a game plan can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your study efforts.
1. Find a platform that works for you
There are lots of prep options out there, and the one you choose will ultimately depend on what you’re studying for, the way you like to study, and how much you’re willing to spend.
We’ve already put together lists and comparison charts for online prep sites for both theACT and SAT. Popular choices are Khan Academy (free!) for the SAT and ACT Online Prep ($24.99/year) for the ACT. These are both great options because they were developed by the test-makers themselves.
Take some time to compare features on different sites and decide which seems to fit your study style the most. You may even consider combining features from more than one site.
Once you’ve decided what you’ll use to prep, make a study plan.
2. Plan out time to study
Studying probably isn’t something you’re doing for fun; boredom and procrastination can make it difficult to put in the time. But scheduling out dedicated study time each week can help you stick to your goals.
The key is to schedule an amount of time that is manageable. No, you probably won’t study two hours straight, 5 times a week, for months leading up to your test. And that’s just fine! You’re more likely to keep up with your studying if you plan out shorter sessions.
To start, try setting aside half an hour 3 times a week, and make adjustments based on your preferences from there. Decide ahead of time which days you’ll study and when. Most students don’t need to study more than a couple months leading up to the test, but how much you’ll need to study depends on your goals.
3. Tailor your studying to meet your needs
It can be tempting to study what you’re already good at, because it’s satisfying to get questions right. But to get the most out of your study sessions, you need to focus on the areas in which you tend to get problems wrong.
To figure out what you need to work on, consider taking a practice test, or at least practice questions from each section. Break down the sections into smaller skills, to micro-target your prep. For instance, math requires knowledge of pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry. You may need to practice some skills more than others.
4. Avoid distractions
One issue with online study platforms is that it’s easy to become distracted by other things on the internet. To avoid these distractions, set a timer for yourself for the amount of time you want to study, and commit to looking only at study materials.
Hopefully these tips can help you prepare for a successful test day. Good luck and happy studying!