Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of creating a standardized testing plan. (If you have not already mapped out all of the dates you plan on taking the SAT or the ACT DO IT NOW!) One important step in a standardized testing plan is figuring out how and when you will prepare for the SAT or the ACT.
We recommend that students take both the SAT and the ACT. Once you have your scores, you can compare how you did using the conversion charts available on both the ACT and the College Board websites. Often times, students will do better on one exam over the other, depending on their learning style and test taking abilities. If you have one exam with a higher score, you may want to put your test preparation efforts into that exam.
The best way to prepare for standardized tests is to practice, practice, practice! You should complete as many full-length practice exams as possible. If you do not have time to complete full exams, you may want to try taking a practice section each day. This will help you be familiar with how the tests is organized. There are practice exams available on both the ACT and College Board websites. You may also want to check with your local library or community center to see if they offer free practice exams. See also, the internet resources listed below.
Another resource are test preparation books. We recommend the official books produced by ACT and College Board. For ACT, pick up The Real ACT Prep Guide and for SAT, The Official SAT Study Guide. One “outside” resource is Outsmarting the SAT, by Elizabeth King.
For more structured test preparation, students often choose between a private tutor and larger test preparation courses. Clients often ask which is more beneficial and the answer is: it depends. Tutors are great if you need one-on-one instruction, but they are expensive. Larger preparation courses can be more cost effective, but you do need to be motivated to do the “homework” they often require.
You also need to consider when you should prepare for the SAT or the ACT. Keep in mind that your standardized testing preparation should not interfere with your regular school work. Your transcript is still the most important part of your application, so if you feel that you will struggle with trying to juggle a test preparation course along with your normal coursework, look into taking a test preparation class in the summer.
Below are some additional test preparation resources:
- Mind Fish: mindfish.com: A free set of online games and tools that are backed up with both individual tutoring and group instruction.
- ePrep.com: An online video program that reviews all the concepts that appear on the tests. For a discount on this program, contact us.
- Educational Testing Service (ETS): www.ets.org
- Free Test Preparation Help: http://www.testprepreview.com/