We believe you will find the following
tips and advice helpful in your SAT and ACT preparations. Unfortunately, providing a
full-scale test prep service is beyond the scope of this
website. However, we do have room to provide information that can
improve your test performance. We believe that, despite the official statements from
the test writers, you can improve your SAT/ACT score dramatically
by simply spending some time becoming "streetwise"
about the exam. Quite simply, this is the easiest step
you can take to prepare yourself for either test, and should not be ignored
under any circumstances.
See the following links for:
SAT Reasoning Test book reviews
ACT book reviews
SAT Subject Test book reviews
Keep in mind that the SAT and ACT are games.
Just as in playing chess, baseball, tennis, or any other game or sport,
those who know how the game is played have a huge advantage
over those who are ignorant of the game's idiosyncratic rules.
The most effective way to develop your time management skills
is to put them
to work through practice tests and simulations. It is
impossible to over-emphasize the importance of this
you are strongly encouraged to take at least a few mock
SAT/ACT exams, and
to try to simulate the actual testing environment as closely as
possible (meaning no breaks, snacks, music, phone calls,
etc.). You should secure a copy of either
Official SAT Study Guide 2nd Edition or of
The Real ACT Prep Guide (CD) 3rd Edition,
as these books use actual test questions from prior exams.
Their practice material and tests will
most closely simulate the types of questions you will
see when you sit for the exam.
SAT and ACT math questions become more difficult as you go through
each section. If you are nearing the end of a section
and find that you cannot figure out the last few questions, don't waste your
time trying to answer them. Your
time will be better spent reviewing your answers to the questions in
the beginning and middle of the section. Keep in mind
that all the questions are weighted the same. You
won't get extra points for answering the hardest
a few blank answers will not make a material impact
on your score.
This probably sounds like
However, we mention
it because we've often had clients tell us how they
inadvertently wound up wasting precious test time by
going back to re-read directions after the test had
begun, or by not making it back from their hourly breaks
promptly. Remember, these activities will take time away from working on
As silly as this piece of advice may seem,
it can make a big difference in your test score. The undisciplined test taker
will feel the stress of the clock during the timed sections
and will try to cut corners to save time however and
whenever possible. As a result, they read
questions hastily and often misinterpret them. Test writers are well aware of this
tendency and are happy to exploit it. We guarantee that
you will encounter questions on the test that offer incorrect answer choices that are deliberately designed to exploit a common misinterpretation
of what the question is really asking.
The SAT's scoring formula has been
"tweaked" to penalize you for incorrect answers. As a
result, you will not be aided by random guessing. You
lose more points for answering a question incorrectly
than you do for not answering it at all. As a result,
you will not be aided by random guessing. If you have absolutely no idea what the correct answer is to a question, we
suggest that you simply skip it and move on.
It will be advantageous for you to guess at the answer,
however, when you can eliminate at least one answer
choice as incorrect. Usually you will be able to identify at least
one choice that is clearly wrong. Eliminating even one
incorrect choice will improve your odds of selecting the
exception to this rule is when you face a problem
solving question that requires you to write in an
answer. In that case, obviously, you don't have a set of
answer choices to give you a clue as to the correct
solution. All you can do is solve the problem to the
best of your ability and write in your answer.
With practice, you should begin to recognize how the SAT
and the ACT present deliberately deceptive incorrect
There are several common patterns here that will begin
to become apparent as you proceed through your preparation.
As we stated at the top of this page,
there are tips and techniques to taking
the SAT and ACT that
will raise your overall score significantly. As a result,
these are tests that you can prepare for – despite what
the test-makers state. We strongly encourage you to
take practice tests that use actual questions from previous exams,
as we have detected a material difference in the
quality of the test questions prepared by the test
writers and those written by the test prep companies.
(Unofficial test prep books are, however, superior to
the official prep guides in their advice on study and
test-taking techniques. That is why we recommend buying
and using at least two test prep guides, one being the
official guide for the test you are taking and the other
being a good-quality unofficial guide.)
Finally, while we believe every test taker
will benefit by reviewing each SAT or ACT exam section, we
encourage you to spend the most time studying and practicing
questions in your weakest subject area. This will provide
you with the most efficient use of your test-prep time.
Obviously, it will be in your best interest to do your
best on the SAT and ACT the first time you take it.
If, however, you believe your test score is not
indicative of your best ability, it will generally not
hurt you to retake this important exam. Most colleges
will only look at your highest test score.
Many of the admissions officers
we know will
favorably impressed if you show an improvement
in your test scores.
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