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09/07/2019

ACT + SAT Test Preperation?

QUESTION
ACT + SAT Test Preperation?
I really need to know everything about the ACT/SAT. I’m going to be a sophomore after this summer and I really want to be able to get into some selective colleges and universities so I really want to do well on these tests.

When do you take the ACT and SAT?
When should you start preparing for the tests?
How should you prepare for the tests?
What is the whole deal with taking the test again and only giving colleges some scores?
What types of things/areas/subjects are on the tests?
Anything else?

ANSWER
Hi Aditya,

The SAT is considered a junior level test, and most experts recommend that you take it the first time in the spring of your junior year. There is an administration in March, May, and June. You should take it when you are fully prepared and when your school work is not overwhelming. You might want to take the PSAT this fall as a practice test. You’ll definitely want to take the PSAT again next fall when you are a junior, as that is the only time to qualify for scholarships, but many sophomores take it for practice. It is only offered one time a year, in October. You can learn more about both tests at www.CollegeBoard.com.

It’s never too early to start preparing for the SAT. Most students start a month or two before, but you are wise to start thinking about it as a sophomore, especially if you have Ivy League aspirations. You can start working through vocabulary and practice reading dry, boring texts in magazines like The New Yorker, The Economist, and Popular Science. We explain how you should do this in our Free Help Area’s “Study Hall,” but I can’t post the link here. We’re also getting ready to release 700 flash cards of the most common vocabulary, all free on the website.

The best way to study is different for each student. Some self-directed learners do well just using The Official SAT Study Guide (aka The Blue Book) and taking practice tests on their own. Others need an additional, more detailed book that breaks down the test patterns for them which helps them as they work through the practice tests in the blue book. Still others need a more structured environment in a classroom, where test experts guide them through the patterns and the tests in the blue book. Only you can determine which method is best for you.

Whatever you chose, be sure to include the blue book in your plans. It’s the only book with real test questions and it’s important to practice with these.

Score Choice is a new program which allows students to send their single best test score to a college, and it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In our “Guidance Office” on the Free Help Area we have a lengthy article explaining how it works and when to use it. Again, I can’t post it here because I keep getting my accounts deleted for putting links to free info.

The SAT has three subject areas: Math, Writing, and Critical Reading. Math includes multiple choice and grid-in questions about Arithmetic, Algebra, Algebra II, Geometry, Coordinate Geometry, Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability, but the content is pretty basic (it’s just asked in a tricky manner). The Writing section has a 25 minute essay and multiple choice grammar questions. And the Reading includes questions about passages and sentence completions, which are fill-in-the-blank vocab questions.

I hope this helps!