Cramming for the tests How to best prepare to take the ACT and SAT
About the ACT “America’s most widely accepted entrance exam.” 215 multiple-choice questions over 4 skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science Optional Writing Test Highest Score=36 Not an IQ test-based on what you learned in high school!
About the SAT 10 separately timed sections: 3 sections of critical reading, 3 sections of math, 3 sections of writing, 1 that combines all (unscored) 200-800 score range 3 types of questions: Multiple choice Student-produced response (math) Essay
Should you take the ACT or the SAT? Most schools will accept either the ACT or the SAT. However, some schools prefer one or the other. Check with their admission guidelines. The ACT tends to be more popular in the Midwest.
ACT vs. SAT Time: ACT=2 hours, 55 minutes/SAT=3 hours, 5 minutes Points: ACT=only correct answers count/SAT=1/4 point deducted for each incorrect response Questions: ACT=215, SAT=140 Writing: ACT=optional, SAT=25 minute required essay Focuses: ACT=grammar and punctuation, SAT=vocabulary
Test Dates You can take the ACT and SAT multiple times if you wish, and since most students improve their scores as they take the test, it is encouraged to do so! For 2011-12, the ACT is offered 9/11, 10/22, 12/10, 2/11, 4/14, and 6/9 For 2011-12, the SAT is offered 10/1, 11/5, 12/3, 1/28, 3/10, 5/5, 6/2
Preparing for the Test Both the ACT and SAT measure what you’ve learned over the course of your years in school. However, it’s a good idea to prepare for the test to gain extra help and knowledge. To start, your high school guidance counselor probably has free resources to help you prepare, and free is good, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Other Study Resources… Books: There are many manuals out there that offer test-taking strategies and practice questions, check out your local bookstore or library to pick one up! Software: For around $25, you could purchase CD-ROM software that will offer training materials and practice for the test of your choice.
Prep Classes Though pricey ($400-$1,000), test prep classes are the most intensive form of preparation you could do. The administrators of the class are trained professionals with an abundance of skills and strategies to teach you. These can be physical or online classes. Popular class and resource providers include: The Princeton Review, Kaplan, and Sylvan Learning Centers.
Most importantly… The most important thing to remember when preparing for the ACT or SAT is that you will do your best when you feel most confident and well-prepared. So, study hard, but take a deep breath and know that you have the ability to do well as long as you put all the skills and knowledge you’ve learned over the past four years into your entrance exam!