6 Test Prep Tips for Students Taking the SAT & the ACT

test prep

Are you planning to take both the SAT and ACT exams in order to give yourself the best possible chance of success at getting into college? This blog post will show you how to balance studying for both tests at once.

SAT and ACT: Advantage of Taking Both

During high school, most students will take either the SAT or ACT in order to get into college. However, taking both tests can be a good strategy, as you'll be able to send your universities of choice the higher of the two scores. That said, taking both the SAT and ACT poses the unique challenge of having two major exams to study for within the same time frame. Here are six tips for how you can balance studying for both tests to get the best possible results.

Studying for both the SAT and ACT concurrently can be stressful

Test Prep Tip #1: Know Your Goals

Before you begin your study process for the SAT and ACT, you'll want to have a strong understanding of your goals. Determine your target score for each test and, even more importantly, decide which test is more important to you. You can make this decision by looking into which type of test your target university prefers, or which test you have a higher chance of success on. Making this decision in advance will give you a valuable sense of focus during crunch time.

Test Prep Tip #2: Consider the Timing

Balancing studying for multiple tests at once is largely a matter of timing and scheduling. Choose your official test dates as soon as possible, ideally ones that are not too close to each other. Then schedule your study time, starting with concepts that are relevant to both tests and focusing on the more specific aspects of each individual test as its date approaches.

The SAT and ACT are important tests

Test Prep Tip #3: Focus on the Basics

As we mentioned above, you'll want to invest the majority of your study time on developing those abilities and skills that will help you on both tests. For example, building your vocabulary will be a boon on both the ACT and the SAT, making it a worthwhile skill to invest your time in.

Test Prep Tip #4: Find the Overlap

Beyond basic skills, the ACT and SAT also have a significant overlap in terms of the actual material they require you to know. In order to study as efficiently as possible, find the overlap between the two tests and focus your study efforts on those topics and concepts. For example, both tests will require you to comprehend texts, solve trigonometry problems, and write a strong essay. If you're solid in these areas, you'll have a better chance of achieving your target score on both tests, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Students study for the SAT and ACT

Test Prep Tip #5: Study Smarter, Not Harder

Just because you have two tests to study for doesn't mean you have to study twice as much. Knowing what to expect from both the SAT and the ACT, as well as having strong time-management skills, will allow you to prepare for both exams concurrently. Focus on test-taking skills. Take practice tests and hone in on those specific areas in which you need the most work, rather than taking a large-scale approach, investing time in skills and subjects you're already good at.

Test Prep Tip #6: Don't Get Mixed Up

Finally, be sure to keep the differences between the SAT and ACT and the structure of both tests straight. For example, though both tests have an optional essay section, each essay requires the use of different writing abilities. Before you take each test, make sure you go over that exam's particular idiosyncrasies, putting your brain into ACT-mode or SAT-mode, whichever is relevant at the time.

If you follow these tips, you should have no problem succeeding when it comes to balancing your test prep for both the SAT and ACT. Good luck!

For online exam study materials at your fingertips, check out Study.com's test prep courses.

By Daisy Rogozinsky
July 2019

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