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ACT, SAT, and Standardized Test Tips

ACT, SAT, and Standardized Test Tips


Standardized testing is a way of life in the academic world, especially for those pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree. The SAT and ACT can be daunting examinations, pitched to students as the determining factor of their future. If you are applying to schools that require standardized tests, here are a few tips to succeed.

Take a Class

Ask your academic advisor or school counselor for test-prep suggestions. Chances are, organizations like Kaplan Test Prep and The Princeton Review are hosting a class at your school or in a neighboring district. These courses, typically costly, are rigorous and provide questions from previous tests to help students succeed. 

Complete Practice Tests

If enrolled in a test-prep course, practice tests will be a requirement for completion. However, bookstores like Barnes & Noble often carry test-prep books of practice tests. Ask a friend for help and do a test-prep simulation at home to get yourself acclimated to the exam.

Be Strategic

Remember, these are timed tests. Spending 10 minutes on one question is a waste of time. Skip it, move to the next and return if there is time. If you don’t know the answer, it’s no big deal.

Depending on the test, consider if your score will improve or worsen by answering every question. For some, it’s okay to leave a question unanswered, while on other tests, any answer is better than nothing at all.

Mark Your Calendar

Consider the score you want and the score you get on the practice test before registering to take the official exam. Give yourself ample time to study and prepare. There is no need to rush yourself into a test that you are unprepared to take. Deadlines are closer than they appear, but planning ahead can reduce a lot of unnecessary stress.

Financial Planning

Let’s face it, standardized tests are expensive. Taking the SAT once costs about $60. However, CollegeBoard offers fee waivers for students in need. Ask an academic advisor if you qualify for waived fees.

Sleep and Eat Breakfast

Gather your things the night before the test so you won't scramble the morning of the exam. The more prepared you are, the less likely you will panic when it’s time to take the test. Get a full night of rest and eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. After all of your preparation, it would be a shame to have a rumbling stomach interrupting your thoughts during the exam.

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