Studying effectively can be one of the most challenging parts of taking standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT, but it’s also one of the most critical factors in how your score turns out. The secret to acing these tests isn’t studying every single night for hours on end; it’s focusing your time on what you need to work on and learning strategies to improve your skills. By following these simple strategies when studying for the Act or SAT, you can ensure you’re maximizing your time and doing everything you can to score higher!

The Importance of Studying

It’s important to study before taking a test, especially if you’re trying to get into a good school. It’s not enough to just know your stuff, you have to be able to show that on paper too. The SAT and ACT both have four sections. The SAT has reading, writing & language, math (with no calculator), and math (with a calculator). The four sections of the ACT are: english, math, reading, and science. Students should always make a study plan so they don’t forget anything essential or lose track of time. 

Strategies for Studying

Studying is a process that may take some time, but it is necessary in order to get the best test score possible. Read over your SAT study guide or ACT study guide, then take a practice test as if you were taking an actual exam so you can get an idea of what type of questions will be on your exam and how you should go about studying for them. Start by dedicating an equal amount of time to each section of the test in order to identify which areas need improvement. From there, dedicate more time to work on the sections that you struggle with.

Remember to study for multiple choice questions and essay-style questions. Both exams contain multiple choice questions and essay sections. Your strategy might change depending on the form of the question, take plenty of practice multiple choice questions and also practice writing essays to prepare.

Common Mistakes Students Make When Studying

Students make a lot of mistakes when studying, but there are some that seem to come up more than others. One common mistake is not taking practice tests often enough. Another is studying too much without having any time off in between. This can lead to burnout by the time exam day rolls around. It’s also important to not just focus on one section at a time, but instead try your best on all sections of the ACT and SAT while you’re preparing so you don’t forget anything. 

How Long Should I Study?

It is important to study for at least 2 hours each day, although it is advised that you study as much time as possible. Your studying should include working on your math problems, writing an essay, and practicing multiple choice questions. If you are looking for more information about how to study, then you might want to look into a test prep course or a tutor from your school’s counseling center. Test prep courses can be very beneficial for some individuals, as they guide them through the entire study process section by section. Most of these courses also offer practice tests that are designed to prepare the student for the actual test day.

In regard to when you should start studying, there are a few things to consider. Generally, it is best to start studying earlier in your junior year so that you can devote more time during your senior year towards college applications or doing other activities like volunteering or extracurriculars.

According to the College Board, it is recommended that you start studying 2-3 months in advance. In order to meet college application deadlines, plan on taking your SAT or ACT no later than August of your senior year. Most students plan on taking the exam in the spring of their junior year, this allows time for a retake if necessary.

Best Practices for Studying

First, don’t cram! Just because you have a month before your test doesn’t mean you should study intensely over the weekend and be done with it. It’s best to space out your studying so that you can focus on each section of the exam one at a time. Second, make sure you’re not too stressed about the test; when it comes time for test day, you’ll be able to show off your best work!

Tips for Test Day

Test day is a big deal because you have been preparing for this day for most of your junior year of high school. For starters, make sure you are well rested. It can be tempting to cram the night before the exam but take time to relax and go to bed early. Before your exam, eat a healthy breakfast. Exam days are long so you want to be well-fueled. Try to avoid anything stressful or emotional before the test so that it doesn’t affect your focus. Finally, make sure everything you need for the exam is ready to go. This includes things like pencils, calculators, and anything you’re permitted to bring with you. 

Taking the SAT and the ACT can seem scary, overwhelming, and intimidating. It can feel like there is a lot riding on this one exam, but it’s still important to remember that at the end of the day it is just a test.

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