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How to Perfectly Practice for the SAT and ACT

Like any skill, test-taking requires time to develop. If you want to learn to play the guitar, take the time to practice and get better. If you want to speak Chinese, take the time to practice and get better. If you want to do improve your SAT or ACT score, take the time to get better. But time isn’t the sole driver of success. The time you spend on your practice must be quality time.

You could go the gym to practice basketball for two hours but if the only thing you do in those two hours is shoot half-court shots then your practice was meaningless. As Vince Lombardi famously stated, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” So how do you perfectly practice for the SAT and ACT? What is the best way to get some quality practice for your next test? Consider these practice techniques that will force you to practice perfectly:

  1. Remove All Distractions: Many students like to study with the tv on, some music in the background and/or their cell phone close by. Since you can’t watch tv,  listen to music or use a cell phone on test day, practice what it feels like to be in a testing environment and remove all of those distractions. By recreating the testing environment, you will practice perfectly the test day experience. 

  2. Practice Against the Clock: Some students get lackadaisical with their test prep by not timing their practice. Since the test is timed, be sure to practice against the clock. If I give a student a practice set for homework, my first question is always, “How was your time management?” If they respond, “um, I forgot to time myself,” then their practice was likely meaningless. 

  3. Know Your Tools: Aside from the math toolbox, students don’t have much in the way of tools on test day. A pencil, calculator, test booklet and answer sheet are about it. Nevertheless, practice using these tools during your test prep. For example, don’t use your cell phone calculator for your practice sessions as cell phone calculators are not approved on test day. Practice with an approved calculator to get familiar with it. You should also practice annotating reading passages and crunching numbers in your test booklet. Even practicing how to bubble in your answers on the answer sheet, especially or SAT Math grid-ins, can be useful. 

  4. Set a Routine: A routine can create confidence and comfort on test day. I once met a student that, in anticipation of test day, took four practice tests on four consecutive Saturdays leading up to the test. On the fifth Saturday, the day of the test, everything was routine for the student. Setting aside four Saturday mornings in a row may not be possible for everyone but setting a routine should be. 

Yes, it takes time to get better at any skill. There are no quick fixes But take maximum advantage of your practice time by practicing perfectly. For more tips on preparing for the SAT, ACT, PSAT, SSAT or other academic subjects, contact CROSSWALK today. 

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