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How to study for the ACT / SAT

Junior year is considered the hardest year and most juniors’ biggest stress is studying for the ACT or the SAT. Now, for most standardized tests, the best way to prepare is simply to practice. This article is here to help you guide yourself for studying for the ACT / SAT and to give some guidance on preparation.

First, assess your current situation. Have you taken the test yet? If yes, then you know your starting point and what you’re trying to build off of. If you have not taken the test of your choice yet, then take a deep breath and remind yourself that you have many times in the future to take the test over again. You probably have plenty of time to study and prepare.

Second, sign up for your test. Most of the time, the sign-up deadline is roughly a month away from the test date. This would be a good time to either: purchase a practice test book or find a good practice program online. I know that Khan Academy provides a good SAT practice program, and many people have given good reviews with inspiring scores. Any old practice book will work also. You can easily buy one at a bookstore.

Third, set up a practice schedule. If you don’t think you will need to study that much, then limit yourself to only 20-30 practice problems every few days. If you don’t think you’re going to do very well, then I would recommend 25 practice problems a day. With this schedule, you can easily finish a practice test in a couple of days.  If you record your answers on a separate sheet of paper, you can retake the same test and avoid buying another book after finishing it.

Fourth, make sure to check your work. Most practice booklets have an answer key at the end of each test and explain each answer. Read the descriptions of why things are right! It helps to build connections and will strengthen your smarts on why a certain answer is right.

Note: Standardized tests L O V E short and concise answers. If you’re in the English / reading portion of your test and it asks for a replacement statement, go with the most concise answer.

Fifth, its the day before the test. On this day, don’t do any practice! You have been working so hard for the past month or so, and before the big day, you need a break. Make sure to print out your ticket, and have the directions for your testing center. Pack your bag with what you plan to bring to the test, eat a nutritious dinner, and go to bed early. I don’t mean wildly early, just enough so that you can get 7-8 hours of sleep.

The next morning, wake up early enough to eat a good breakfast. Not just a pop tart. Get some protein and carbs so you have the brain energy to make it through all of the test. Leave your home early enough to reach your testing center with a few minutes of extra time to find your testing room and settle in. Before the test, take a deep breath and remember all the practice you have done. You are ready to conquer the ACT / SAT!

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