Are you tired of hearing about standardized tests yet? Most students are! Yet this topic is one of great importance if a student wishes to attend college – immediately after high school or even down the road. Your SAT and/or ACT score gives the college a glimpse of your critical thinking skills, reading comprehension, and ability to problem-solve under pressure. All of these are skills you need for college and career.
Few people are naturally gifted test takers, and intentional practice for the ACT or SAT is almost always needed.
First off, you need to decide which test you are going to prepare for. As of 2007, every college in the country accepts both exams, so it’s good to take a practice test for both exams (available for free from their websites) and then decide which one to focus on.
To prepare for the ACT or SAT it is good to start with the official prep guide. The ACT has a new version every year or so (though there usually are very few changes), College Board (the company that administers the SAT) offers the tests for free on their website. Sometimes your local library provides a copy, but you can also check Amazon or even borrow one from another homeschool family. Some homeschool groups will do SAT test prep together as a co-op! Whatever you decide to do, know that preparation is always worthwhile in regards to standardized tests. Here are a few more tips as your student approaches his next ACT or SAT:
Know What to Expect on Test Day
It’s good to plan on taking the test multiple times so that your student can become familiar with the test. Most tests will begin at 8:30-9 a.m. and the student will need to be there and ready to go about 45 minutes prior (the testing center or school will verify times). No phone are allowed in the room OR during breaks, or your scores don’t count!
You’ll be allowed a calculator and a pencil, but no notes.
Wrong Answers Are Not Penalized
Both the ACT and the new SAT not penalize you for wrong answers; you are scored on how many you get right. What great news! Because of this, students should concentrate on first locating the wrong answers as they determine which is the correct answer. This is called the “process of elimination”. Not only does this save time, it narrows down the choices. If a student really needs to guess, their chances of guessing the correct answer are much higher.
Write It Out
I’ve been tutoring ACT and SAT prep for 12 years, and one of the quickest ways to save time is tied to how you complete the answer sheet. Instead of filling in each bubble as you go through the test questions, write your answer in the test booklet and when you reach the end of the page, fill the bubbles in on the scantron (the score sheet). This will save you time and allow you to concentrate on the questions instead of flipping back and forth.
Remember, the test booklet is designed to be marked up! Use it to the maximum. Take notes, write question marks, circle things, underline passages – do whatever you need to do in order to stay engaged in the process.
Questions? Email [email protected]