The SAT and ACT are the main tests colleges use to determine if a student is “worthy” for admission into their school. These tests can be pretty scary if you don’t know what to expect.
The average score on the SAT is 1500 and the average score on the ACT is 21. It doesn’t pay to be average with the increasing costs of college, and college scholarships becoming more competitive. Therefore, a high SAT/ACT score is important in order to increase a student’s chances for scholarships. Higher scores can be achieved if you take advantage of a few suggestions:
1. Practice, practice, practice. You must take a few tests before you can feel totally comfortable with the test. Most students are now taking the tests at the end of their junior year as well as their senior year in high school. Taking three to four practice tests on your own will improve your score dramatically.
2. Take a test prep class. There are a lot of classes available that will prepare you for the big test. Some are even offered online. These classes will give you the practice you need and will also teach you some of the tricks that will help you master the tests.
The SAT and ACT tests have built-in pitfalls that sometimes will trick you into choosing the wrong answer. A good test prep class will teach you how to avoid these pitfalls and turn them into points.
3. Improve your vocabulary. The SAT/ACT Reading, Writing and Essay (and ACT English) sections will really test your vocabulary and your writing skills. Read books (nonfiction/educational) and periodicals (newspapers and magazines) to always look for ways to improve your vocabulary.
You can also buy flash cards that are designed to improve your vocabulary. Whenever you come across a word you don’t know, always look it up.
If you do not like to write, start writing in a journal for practice summarizing your thoughts. This will help you with the writing and essay sections of the test.
4. Keep taking math in high school. Some students make the mistake of taking only the minimum when it comes to math in high school. Do not stop at geometry, and do not stop taking math at 10th or 11th grade.
Both the SAT and the ACT will test your knowledge of math and the concepts. If you are rusty at math then it will show in both tests. If you are currently not taking math, then consider taking math the next semester. Do not be afraid of math. If you need a tutor then by all means get one.
5. Test day. You are about to take the test the next morning. Hopefully you have done some (hopefully all) of the above mentioned activities to be prepared. Either way, make sure you are ready mentally and physically on the big day.
Here are a few things to keep in mind: Make sure you get a good nights rest (12 hours sleep is too much). Eat a good breakfast. Work out a few problems from a practice test (this will wake/warm up the brain) in the morning.
If allowed, bring a snack to the test location (fruit is always best). Bring proper ID and pencils/calculators. The most important suggestion is to relax and pace yourself during the test.
Students who take the SAT/ACT seriously and take the time to take practice tests and study will do well on the test. You must plan ahead and just do a little bit at a time.
Last-minute “cramming” will not work for these tests and usually will not work in college so do not get in the habit of this type of studying.
Give yourself time to learn about both tests and what techniques will allow you to make those high scores a reality. Admission to college and scholarships are waiting for you so get started right away.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michael Bond is the owner of Ahwatukee-based 1st Place Tutoring. His company assists students in grades K-12 with math, reading and science, and has SAT/ACT test preparation classes for high school students. Reach him at (602) 751-3594, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.1stplacetutoringaz.com.