SAT and ACT tips for the upcoming test dates

Tom Cruise in Risky Business arriving three hours late to the SAT
In Risky Business, Tom Cruise has a nightmare that he arrives three hours late to the SAT

By Cecilia Creissen

For those of us in our junior, senior and possibly sophomore year, talk of the dreaded SAT and ACT are becoming increasingly common. A few ambitious students that have been doing practice tests over the weekend and vocabulary cards in the car ever since elementary school may be prepared, but for the majority of students the tests are less familiar. Maybe, however, you just took the October ACT or the November SAT and want to improve your score for the later test dates (ACT: December 12, February 6; SAT: December 5, January 23). No matter where one is in the testing process, many of us long for a good score.

For starters, the SAT is becoming progressively similar to the ACT. However, there are differences that remain:

  • The ACT is out of 36 and the SAT is out of 2400
  • Vocabulary is played up in the SAT
  • The ACT has less indirect or complicated wording for questions
  • The SAT does not have a science section
  • The ACT writing is optional (however many schools require it)
  • The ACT has trigonometry

If you received an SAT score less than what you hoped for, give the ACT a go or vice versa. However ultimately as the tests are becoming progressively similar, practice is the sure fire way to receive a good score.

Cramming for the ACT and SAT is heard of, but starting test prep early Junior year is more successful and less stressful. Therefore, a good test prep book is essential. Walking into the bookstore and seeing the mass array of  prep books is overwhelming but take the time to look through them and choose one that looks appealing to the way you learn best. Next, simply open the book and begin. Just starting will relieve the pent up stress caused by the tests. Ultimately, doing test prep every day is ideal, but a few times a week is more manageable. The tests will become less scary the more you practice. However, if working alone is too terrible, text a group of friends, do a few sets of practice problems together and then congratulate yourselves with a study break.

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