Five Keys to Acing the ACT and SAT

When it comes to the ACT and SAT, students (and their parents) want that one magic pill that will guarantee a high test score.  Sadly, like Ponce de Leon searching for the Fountain of Youth, these folks will likely find the journey exhilarating but ultimately fruitless. 

So, if there’s no single answer to the “test” question, what can you do to ace the ACT and SAT? Here are five keys: 

  1. These tests are sooo predictable!  The ACT and SAT are essentially the same test EVERY time.  Sure, the specific questions change, but the concepts being tested are remarkably consistent.  That means you should know ahead of time exactly what material is going to be covered.  Which leads us to…
  2. Don’t study for the test, TRAIN FOR IT.  Think about any skill you have worked to develop.  How did you improve? There’s a high likelihood that you combined practice with coaching.  This is no different, but it’s also important that you…
  3. Learn to think like the test maker.  For example, the test makers don’t want to credit you for faulty thinking.  Therefore, the answer choices will be constructed in a way to capture the most common mistakes on any particular question.  Knowing what those typical mistakes are ahead of time will keep you from falling into the test makers’ traps.  You’ll also need to…
  4. Master your pacing.  We all read and calculate at different rates, so it’s critical to know, through practice, how you’ll navigate each section of the tests.  You also don’t want to waste any time reading directions because THEY NEVER CHANGE.  And finally…
  5. If you won’t be testing for a year or more, READ voraciously.  There’s no better way to improve your reading skill than to read whatever you can get your hands on.  If the test is less than 3 months away, start preparing – with a course or with a tutor – that choice is up to you.  And if the test is tomorrow, relax, get a good night’s sleep, and approach the test with confidence (especially if you checked off the entire list above).

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