How to approach SAT and ACT season

How to approach SAT and ACT season

Oct. doesn’t just coincide with the start of fall, but also, brings about the stress of ACT and SAT tests and preoccupies the minds of many high school students.  Luckily, many colleges have begun to adopt the “test-optional” policy, meaning students are given the choice whether they want to submit their standardized test scores.  It is still, however, suggested to try your best, because a high score can be a boost on a college application. 

The choice of taking either the ACT or SAT is a personal preference.  The ACT has harsher time restrictions, more questions, and includes a science section.  While many students find the material to be slightly easier than the SAT, the ACT aims to see students’ accuracy when dealing with time constraints.  On the contrary, the SAT has more time allotted for certain sections, and does not include a science section, but instead, the SAT includes an additional math section that prohibits the use of a calculator.  Based on your own strengths and weaknesses as a student, you should determine which is right for you. 

“Studying for these tests can bring lots of stress, so it’s important to divide your studying throughout different days to avoid overdoing it.  As a student with several extracurricular activities, I made sure to make time for all of them, so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed,” said senior Kaitlyn Schwirzbin.

Students approach SAT and ACT preparation in several ways.  One popular strategy amongst students is long-term studying, so they avoid cramming and the material would remain fresh in their brains.  Since the ACT consists of an English, Reading, Math, and Science section, it could be smart to have a schedule that somewhat resembles this one: English – Monday, Reading – Tuesday, Math – Wednesday, Science – Thursday, Friday – take a break.  A similar schedule could be used for SAT studying as well, just with the replacement of math (without the usage of a calculator) where science is.  By following this type of schedule, you should be able to succeed without feeling anxious or pressed for time.

“I made sure to study at least four or five times a week in order to make sure that I was fully prepared for this test.  Because I did this, I was able to feel more confident when test day hit,” said senior Layla Hershkowitz.  

Another important factor to keep in mind when preparing for the standardized tests is to find a balance between homework and extracurriculars.  The workload of junior year can be very stressful, and it is essential to remember that grades matter just as much, if not more, than standardized test scores.  It is necessary to find balance between studying and completing your school work, and by doing so, you should be able to persevere through these busy times.

“Junior year was a lot of work, but there were many resources available that helped me along the way to manage and balance,” said senior Danielle Hiller.

There are also useful materials accessible for students to prepare for the SAT and ACT.  For the ACT, students can purchase “The Official ACT Prep Guide 2022-2023” on Amazon for $29.99, and for the SAT, students can find the Princeton review “SAT Prep” from Amazon for $20.99.  These books specialize in teaching specific rules needed for the tests, along with an excess of practice material to ensure understanding.  Furthermore, there are thousands of free practice tests that can be found simply from looking up either “ACT prep” or “SAT prep” online. 

One last vital aspect of getting ready for this test is being sure that you are ready when the test date comes.   The ACT is scheduled  on the following dates over the next year: Dec. 10, Feb. 11, Apr. 15, June 10, and July 15.  As for the SAT, test dates for the year include:Nov. 5, Dec. 3, Mar. 11, May 6, and June 3.  There are many opportunities to take these tests, but it is vital that you are registered far enough in advance to avoid extra fees for being late.  To find the latest registration dates for these tests along with the amount it costs to register, be sure to take a look at act.org for the ACT and satsuite.collegeboard.org for the SAT. 

Even though these times are stressful, it is important that you are educated when it comes to preparing for the ACT and SAT.  It may seem overwhelming, but with hard work and dedication you will do great. Good luck!

This article originally appeared in The Schreiber Times.

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