Applying to college can be a strenuous task and preparing to take standardized tests in the midst of it all can make it an even more demanding process. But there are ways to help prepare yourself for the testing piece of your application. Most colleges and universities accept scores from both the ACT and SAT tests. Here are a few tips and strategies to help prepare for both of these tests.
Decide which test is right for you
In 2020, 1.67 million students took the ACT and 2.2 million took the SAT. Many students choose to take both tests all though it is unclear how many students choose this option in 2020. Although most institutions accept scores from both tests, it is important to double check to see which test is preferred (if there is one) at the location you are applying. Both tests are similar but below are a few of the major differences. If you are choosing just 1 test, pick the one that best suits your learning style and strengths.
- 247 minutes including time for optional written essay
- Includes 2 math sections; one with a calculator and one without
- Overall score out of 1600 – math and reading/writing scores are added together
- 230 minutes including time for optional written essay
- Includes a science section with 40 questions
- Composite score of 1-36 – average of your scores on the 4 multiple-choice test sections
Practice and study
When you are scheduling your test, be sure to give yourself 3-6 months to prepare. Preparing little by little each day is a great way to help build up your knowledge and maintain information needed to succeed.
- Reading daily
- Expanding your vocabulary or learning a new word a day
- Getting a tutor or attending a study group
- SAT and ACT apps like SAT Genius, Ready4 Sat, and Reay4 ACT
- Using websites like ACT Test Prep and The SAT
Set a goal
Most colleges and universities have a score window for standardized tests that they require or recommend applicants be in. Look at this range for the institutions you are applying for and set your goal within or above that window. Knowing the goal you are trying to reach will help you when deciding which test to take as well.
Taking the SAT and ACT can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for many students. Starting preparations early and choosing the right test for you can make a huge difference. For more help in preparing, check out our SAT and ACT prep tutoring resources!