Preparing for the SAT and ACT


For many students, just saying the word “test”, brings on stress. Standardized tests can cause more than just stress or worry. In fact, about 20 percent of students have test anxiety. The good news is, being prepared for exams like the SAT and ACT can help reduce test-taking stress and anxiety. 

Know what to expect

Your student should become familiar with the test format, environment, process and policies. Knowing the time allowed, number and type of questions, what to bring, and what happens during the testing time can put their mind at ease. There’s no need to be unsure about things they can get clear answers to. 

Test-taking strategies

PrepScholar offers numerous test-taking strategy tips online. Here are some basics.

Active reading

When compared to passive reading (reading for pleasure), active readers are more engaged and generally increase their ability to comprehend material. Active reading is looking for meaning that can help lead to an answer. When answering a test question, understanding words and concepts and how they relate can provide hints to the correct answer. Underlining sentences and circling key words when reading questions can be a big help.

Eliminate incorrect answer choices

For multiple choice tests, using the process of elimination to cross out wrong answers immediately will help your student focus on the remaining options and select the best answer.

Keep a steady pace

When taking a timed, standardized test, it’s important to answer as many questions correctly as possible. To do this, advise your student to scan the test to identify and answer the easy questions first and circle the question number for difficult, more time-consuming questions they should come back to.

Practice makes possible

Both the SAT and ACT exams offer free practice tests and other test preparation strategies online. Answering as many sample questions as possible up until test day by taking practice tests allows your student to see what questions they missed, which gives them the opportunity to view explanations that give immediate feedback and offer recommendations based on their score. 

Study time

This one seems obvious, but it’s worth saying: take the time to study. The time your student invests is directly related to the score they’ll earn. They can commit themselves by setting a schedule. Once your student starts, advise them to set a score goal. That way, as they take practice tests, they’ll have something to aim for. Your student should devote some time to studying concepts they’re not familiar with or are weakest in.