Before you start the process of preparing for the ACT or SAT, you should do your research and decide which one of these tests is best for you to take. You may decide that you will only attempt one of the two, or you can take both and use your best score. Most schools will take either of these tests as part of your application process, but double check with the admissions department. The ACT and SAT are different in both structure and question type.
How can you determine which is best for you? Take a timed practice version of each test. Once you have decided which one is right for you, these test tips can be applied across the board to help enhance your performance.
Know the Test
Whether you are taking the SAT or ACT, take time to learn the section directions now – the latest standards of these are available online. This will save you time during the test to work on questions instead of having to make sure you understand instructions clearly.
Have A Plan
Read each question carefully. Make sure to answer the question asked (not one you may recall from a practice test). If you are confident in your answer, select it and move on. Don’t second-guess yourself, and answer the easy questions first. Mark any skipped questions so you can quickly return to them later. For those questions, begin by eliminating answer choices that you know are incorrect. Don’t change your answer unless you are 100 percent sure you made an error.
Leave Your Mark
Avoid stray marks on the answer sheet—but when it comes to your test booklet and scratch piece of paper, go crazy. If you are afraid you will forget certain concepts or formulas, write them down on your scratch paper as soon as testing begins. Don’t be embarrassed about writing in your test booklet, this can be extremely important in keeping your focus. Also, don’t forget to:
- Mark up geometry diagrams in the test booklet. Having your work right on the page will help you avoid careless mistakes.
- Cross incorrect answers out in your test book, this will help you concentrate on the answers that you still have available.
- Clearly designate questions that you want to come back to if you have extra time – this will make finding them later quick and easy.
Understand the Scoring
For example, on the SAT you get a point for a right answer. You lose a fractional point for a wrong answer. There is no deduction for omitted answers or for wrong answers in the math section’s student-produced response questions. This is important to know and to keep in mind as you prioritize your time. Test scoring varies with the two tests. You should research the latest information on how the test you’ll be taking is scored.
With both tests, make sure you keep an eye on the time. You have to be strategic about your approach and timing in order to have your best outcome. Consider the amount of time you have to answer each question and avoid getting bogged down on any one question.
Practice Makes Perfect
The more familiar you are with the test format, the less likely you are to panic when you sit down for the real deal. Practice will make you recognize careless errors that you are prone to and help you establish habits to correct them. Try to create a realistic test setting when you practice. You can use The Princeton Review’s Free SAT Practice Test or check out the free sample tests on College Board’s site, the makers of the SAT.
- Throughout the test, keep checking that you are placing your answer in the correct section and number on the answer sheet.
- Don’t spend too much time on any one question. Focus on the positive and what you can do. Then come back to anything you weren’t sure on if there’s extra time.
- Get a good night’s sleep & eat a healthy breakfast. Keep your mind and body performing in top shape!
Taking a college admissions test is the first step in your journey to a degree. Are you ready to start that journey today? For any questions you may have regarding admissions requirements, please contact the South College admissions office at 865-251-1800 today!