OPINION: Tips on How to Ace Your Upcoming SAT/ACT

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For many, this upcoming school year marks an important time in their academic journey. Throughout the year, multiple standardized tests will be held such as the PSAT, SAT, ACT and other critical exams for university-bound students. I, myself, am taking the PSAT on Oct. 16, and with it have been doing a decent amount of research on ways to better prepare for it and future standardized tests in my life.

  1. Use your resources!

We are lucky enough to live in the age of the internet. At your disposal are a multitude of resources, such as this article, to help you on test day. I myself have found Khan Academy’s official course, created in partnership with the College Board, an invaluable tool to assist in my study. College board has also released official practice tests on their website, and a multitude of other official and unofficial guides and study books created by professionals.

Some common threads I’ve picked up are for the math portions of your test. I would definitely recommend you practice memorizing important formulas that you’ll need to know to complete the questions; the worst feeling is when you’re sitting there staring at a problem you think you know how to do but can’t remember the right formula for. For reading and writing, it’s a little bit more abstract, but do your best to use your time well on them. Try and pay attention to what the questions are asking so you know what to look for in the passage, and underline parts of the text that stick out to you so that they are easier to come back to when answering the questions.

  1. Prepare ahead of time and know what to expect.

Despite COVID-19, the actual format of the SAT/PSAT hasn’t changed much, beyond the removal of the optional essay portion. That aside, make sure you’ve packed your bags ahead of time, have your schedule in mind so that you can have the easiest pre-test as possible. Also make sure you are familiar with the format and sequencing of the test. That way you can feel comfortable when it’s placed in front of you.

  1. Don’t overexert yourself studying, and rest well the night before.

While it can be tempting to cram on the nights and hours leading up to your test, make sure you’re still taking care of yourself! You won’t be able to absorb the content you’re trying to study for as well as you could if you’re on a tired mind, and you’ll do even worse on the test if you walk into it feeling exhausted.

  1. Try and pace yourself.

When taking the actual test, do your best to pace yourself. If you’re stuck on a question, flag it for later and come back so that you can finish the section and answer as many questions as possible in your allotted time. Doing lots of practice tests has helped with this in my experience. You’ll be able to get a better sense of how long it takes you to do different sections.

  1. Always try to answer the question.

This is a common tip you’ll see. Even if you really don’t know, eliminate the obvious options and try to take your best guess. Never leave an answer blank if you can help it! There’s no penalty for doing so, and at worst you’ll miss a point you’d have lost anyways if you had left it completely blank.

In the end, there are many in-depth resources for whatever standardized test you’ll be taking. Practice lots, study hard and do your best! Tests are hard and can be stressful, so do what you can to let that stress and anxiety release before and after. Although it’s been a difficult past couple years due to the coronavirus pandemic, standardized tests are here to stay. I wish you all good luck on your future tests, whether they are a midterm or final, an ACT, SAT or PSAT.