SAT and ACT Student Practice and Preparation
Developing a solid strategy for college entry presents a challenge for many students. Colleges and universities generally require scores from standardized tests to determine a student’s readiness for college-level coursework. In the United States, two of the most used tests are the ACT (formerly called American College Testing) and the SAT (formerly the Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test). For many students, the idea of wrangling with difficult questions in a timed atmosphere causes anxiety, but using the appropriate study and preparation techniques can instill confidence and potentially raise scores. In addition, understanding the purpose of the tests can help students select the test that best suits a student’s test-taking style. This creates a much more pleasant experience.
Choosing the right test for a student’s learning style, subject mastery and test-taking techniques can improve the standardized test experience. Colleges and universities will accept both test results, although some students perform better on the SAT than the ACT, and vice versa. Questions on the ACT appear more straightforward than questions on the SAT. Consequently, students who respond better to questions that require less figuring during the question-reading phase might fare better on the ACT. In contrast, the ACT tests higher-level math skills, so students who struggle in math may fare better taking the SAT. In addition, the ACT tests science, the SAT does not. The ACT examines a student’s overall performance on the test; it looks at the “big picture,” which can help boost weaker scores in one area if the student performed well in others. The SAT, on the other hand, examines how well a student performs on each section, which works well for students who have mastered each subject area.
Preparing for both the ACT and SAT requires planning, time management and excellent study skills. First, students can take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) or ACT COMPASS tests to determine their current understanding of reading, mathematics and other subjects. Armed with this information, students can connect with resources, such as tutors or supplemental courses, to develop knowledge in weak subject areas. Afterward, taking online or paper-based practice tests develops a student’s understanding of how the tests are administered and structured.
For additional information about the SAT and ACT tests, visit the following links:
General Information about Testing and College Entrance
- Getting Ready for College: Taking Assessment Tests – This page offers a good deal of information about preparing for college and taking the appropriate assessment tests.
- Understanding Standardized Testing – This page provides detailed information about the purpose of standardized tests.
- About the ACT Testing Process – This page delivers a brief yet inclusive synopsis of what to expect on the ACT test.
- ACT Score Report Descriptions – This page offers an overview of the three types of reports delivered after taking the ACT test.
- Taking Required Tests – This page provides an overview of the types of tests required for college entry.
- About the SAT Subject Tests – This page provides information about the SAT subject tests.
SAT Practice and Preparation
- What Is the SAT? – This page explains the SAT.
- What Are the PSATs? – This page offers a detailed overview of the preparatory testing options for the SAT.
- Understanding PSAT/NMSQT Results (PDF) – You will find information about the importance of PSAT testing results here.
- What is On the Test? – This page offers information about what to expect on the test.
- SAT Factsheet – This fact sheet delivers important information about the SAT.
- Free SAT Practice – This site offers free online practice and preparation for the SAT.
- SAT Preparation: How Much Is Too Much? – This page offers information that cautions students against preparing “too much” for the test.
- How to Prepare for Those Dreaded College Entrance Exams (PDF) – This document offers an abundance of information about preparing for tests and average scores.
ACT Practice and Preparation
- The ACT – This page provides detailed information about each component of the ACT process.
- The ACT Test – This page, provided by ACT, Inc., provides a range of important information about the benefits of the test.
- ACT English Test Preparation (PDF) – This document provides a presentation on getting ready for the ACT English test.
- Preparing for the ACT Math Portion (PDF) – This document provides example questions for the math portion of the ACT test.
- ACT COMPASS Preparation – The page offers information about the COMPASS placement scores.
- ACT Test Preparation – This page offers tips on how to get ready for the ACT test.
- COMPASS Placement – This page offers information about the ACT COMPASS placement test.
- ACT Study Guides – This page delivers a list of resources to help students prepare for the test.
General Test Taking and Study Tips
- Test Taking Strategies – This page provides strategies for improving test taking skills and reducing anxiety.
- Steps to Take After the Test – This page offers helpful tips to use after receiving scores for the PSAT, so that students can prepare for the SAT.
- How to Study – This page delivers a wide range of tips and a blueprint to developing good studying habits.
- How to Study Math – This page delivers important information about developing math study skills, an important component of entrance exams.
- Tips on Test Taking – This page provides some helpful tips designed to assist students with developing positive test-taking skills.
- Study Skills Test Taking – General information is offered about gaining study and test-taking skills.
- Tips for Effective Study – This page offers a list of easily followed tips to develop effective study habits.
- Self Help-Basic Study Techniques – This page offers helpful study techniques, including information on developing note-taking skills.