How to Prepare for the ACT and SAT
If you are a high schooler, we are sure that you have at least heard about the SAT or ACT, but do you need a run-down of the basic information and a quick guide for how to prepare for the SAT or ACT? We’ve got your back!
SAT and ACT test scores are often required for admission to colleges and universities in the United States. Based on where you live, your intended field of study, and the institutions you apply to, you will need to decide whether to take the SAT, the ACT, or both.
The SAT test is three hours long with an additional 50 minutes for completing an optional essay. The scores range from 400 to 1600 and combine test results from two 800-point sections: Mathematics and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. The ACT is comprised of four sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science and is three hours and 35 minutes long. The main four tests are scored individually on a scale of 1–36, and the final composite score is the average of the four combined scores from each section.
Your SAT or ACT score is one of the key determinants in whether you’ll be admitted to the college or university of your choice. The higher your score, the better your application will look to admission boards. So, you may now be wondering about how to prepare for the ACT or SAT. Prior to sitting down to take the actual test, there are several steps you can take to prepare yourself to score well.
1. Take a practice test.
When it comes to how to prepare for the ACT or SAT, a practice test is a good place to start. This will give you a baseline score to build on. The results of the practice test will help you identify weak subject areas to devote more time. Practice tests also help to familiarize you with the directions, sections, and scoring system before taking the “real” test. The SAT and ACT each have different ways of scoring answers.
Being familiar with the testing format can go a long way and can help you feel confident and comfortable when it comes to taking the real test. You even access SAT practice tests for free, and you can also find free ACT questions on the ACT website. A short list of free SAT and ACT practice test sites can be found here.
2. Take a self-study course.
After you’ve taken a free practice test or two, you should have a sense of where you need to focus your energies and have a general idea of how to prepare for the ACT or SAT. If you prefer preparing and studying on your own, there are multiple free online resources provided by the College Board, the organization that developed the SAT. The ACT also provides online study resources for free.
3. Test prep with others.
Some students thrive in a one-on-one setting, while others benefit more from group studies. Depending on the type of learner you are, there may be free or low-cost test prep classes offered by universities and community colleges local to you. Sometimes these study groups are offered by your own high school. Schedule a meeting with your high school guidance counselor to discuss what resources are available in your local community.
Generally, college-bound students start to explore how to prepare for the ACT or SAT in their junior year of high school. By your junior year, you should have already completed the majority of coursework that will help you succeed on the test. If you take the test your junior year and believe you can improve your score, you still have time to retake the test in the fall of your senior year.
Studies show that students who retake the test often improve their scores. However, you should not take tests repeatedly unless you are confident that doing so will result in significantly better results. Do not waste your time, energy, and money to retake the test unless you’ve taken the time to complete steps 1-3 before.
Grace’s Test-Optional Policy
At Grace College, we understand there are students who could follow our steps for how to prepare for the ACT or SAT to a tee and still not perform well on the exams. We totally get that. Not all students are best represented by their standardized test scores. That’s we why are a test-optional school. This means we still accept test scores as a considered metric for acceptance if you feel that they are a good representation of your intelligence and work ethic. But we don’t require them. We let you decide whether or not your test scores best represent you.
If you do choose to take the ACT or SAT, make sure you select Grace as a school to be automatically sent your scores! But most importantly, remember that you are so much more than an SAT or ACT score. We recognize that our students are not just mental but also physical, emotional, and spiritual beings. That’s why we find it imperative to integrate our faith with our studies. This is the way of grace.
Connect with our admissions counselors to learn more about Grace College and our admission standards.