10 Tips for taking the SAT or ACT

Happy Febs, fellow students!

Love is in the air. Here’s hoping everyone nabs a Valentine this year. Now, back to business: the dreaded ACT/SAT. Back home, SAT is a…household name, if you will. But perhaps where you live the ACT is the most prevalent. Regardless, both are horrible tools to assess anyone’s intelligence, but we just gotta deal, ya feel me?

I’m sure many of you are fearing the test you selected. I regrettably inform you that I am no standardized testing wizard, nor am I a magical genie that can free you from such an unfortunate quagmire. What I can do is point you in the right direction. Sounds good? All right, let’s hop to it!

First and foremost, give yourself the bloody time to study for it. I didn’t study for the ACT very well, and though my score was still good enough to get into the colleges of my choice (according to their admissions averages), it could have been better! (Ah…how I wish I tried a bit more). With the SAT, I took two prep classes. One of them was a total dud provided by my school. Not sure if all other campuses would host such a scam, but if they do, don’t waste your money! Truth be told, you have to be really careful when you pick your mode of studying. I’d say that if you’re going to spend $1,000+ on a course, you should research the institution, reviews, and anything else before you write that check. There are plenty of fake-o’s that feed on the anxiety of both students and parents alike. Take a deep breath! If you don’t get a 2400 or 36, your parents do hold the right to abandon you. But that’s not so bad, huh? (Please know I’m totally kidding. Typing on my new iPad mini tends to put me in an obnoxious mood.)

Should you so desire to staple your wallet shut and study independently, seek out books that will assist you the most. I have heard The Princeton Review is very good in preparing students. I used Kaplan (for like a week…two months before the exam) and it helped me enough with some of their strategies. I also remember hearing that Barron’s creates very hard practice tests to better prepare you for the real thing. Whichever suits your style best should be the one you purchase. And please, don’t be a Nikki. Use it!

For anyone interested in my SAT story… I took the SAT on a bad day, and boy did I screw that one up. I personally feel the SAT and I don’t go very well together. Though, I don’t really click with any sort of test. Ho hum. But my story did have a fairly happy ending when a teammate of mine recommended the ACT. Before I knew it, many seniors told me their secret: switching over! As a footnote, not everyone performs better on the ACT. So again, do your own research to see what’s better for you. And for those discouraged to take a crack at the ACT because of the science portion, don’t fret! Science is my weakest subject, and it wasn’t even that bad for me (I forgot the steps, too, so I went in blindly)! You don’t need any knowledge on any given science whatsoever. You really need to figure out a strategy and then work with it.

So once you guys obtain a way to study, stick with it! Give yourself at least two months if you want to really be prepared. Thirty minutes a night would be great! And two-three weeks before your exam, make it about an hour a night if possible. I actually started that for SAT … and like I said, that test just wasn’t for me … so if I applied that to the ACT it would’ve been awesome.

THE DAY BEFORE THE TEST AHHHHHHHH!!!

1. You’ve done all you possibly can at this point. Review your toughest section for about 15 minutes, brush up on the others for about 5 each annnnnnd put away that sucker for good! (Unless you plan to take it again…Then I’d advise you to shove it in your closet for safekeeping)

2. Relax! Watch a movie, hang out with friends, play video games! Just make sure you don’t stay out late. Which brings me to

3. SLEEP! Does it sound like a good idea to stay up all night when you need your mind to be sharp and alert for a huge exam the next morning? If so, then you have another think coming because I’ll tell you this right now… you won’t perform to the best of your ability. Studying would have been a waste. Do yourself and your parents a favor by catching up on some Z’s.

4. Make sure all you need is in your backpack. If you decide to bring your cell phone to call Mom to pick you up, be sure it’s off! Some proctors are “chill” and turn a blind eye if it goes off, but not everyone, so don’t risk it!

5. Eat a well balanced breakfast. Eggs, milk, toast, OJ, etc.

6. Smile a lot, play music on the ride there, make sure you’re stress free! The more you smile, the happier you’ll be (it’s true, take my word for it)

7. Kiss Mommy/Daddy goodbye–always a satisfying moment when you know someone out there cares and is supportive of you.

8. Take a deep breath

9. Don’t cheat–stop looking at that kid next to you! His glasses don’t imply anything! Come on, believe in yourself!

10. Concentrate!

That’s all I have to say on that matter. Practice! And remember, it’s not the end of the world if your test scores aren’t perfect. A lot of people (and colleges) exaggerate their test scores. You can always try again! If not, then know you gave it your all and I’m still proud of you (and psssst. Grades are more important…)

Cheerio,
Nikki

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