Since you have made it to high school, it is likely that you have heard of the SAT and the ACT. In this issue, we will break down what these tests are, how and when to register for them, how to study for them, and general testing tips.
Let’s start with what they are.
The SAT stands/stood (the name has changed a few times) for the Scholastic Assessment Test. It is college admission test that tests to see how prepared you are for college. It is based on the skills that you have learned in reading, writing, and math. The test is created and scored by College Board.
The ACT is the American College Test, and it too attempts to discover how prepared students are for college. This test includes sections on reading, writing, science, and math. It is created and scored by the ACT Organization.
How much do the tests cost?
Well, it differs. The SAT currently costs $52.50. Fee waivers are possible for those who need them.
The ACT currently costs $54.50 if you take the test with Writing and $38.00 without it. Fee waivers are available for this test, as well.
When should you take the tests?
These tests are typically taken in the spring of your junior year and the fall of your senior year. You can take them at other times, as well, though.
How do you register to take the tests?
You can register for the SAT at College Board website: https://sat.collegeboard.org/register. You can also find test dates and more information about the test at this site.
You can register for the ACT at the ACT Student website: http://www.actstudent.org/regist/. Again, you can find tests dates and more information about the test at this site.
How to Study for Standardized Tests
-Firstly, take challenging courses. It is important that you try your best in these classes, as the tests are based on the knowledge that you receive from these classes.
-Secondly, read often. The reading, writing, and vocabulary sections require a knowledge that one can easily get by reading often. Reading is the best practice. It is fun, too!
-Thirdly, visit the websites of the tests. Sign up for the College Board’s Question of the Day (https://sat.collegeboard.org/practice/sat-question-of-the-day). Take the Practice Test that they offer. *This for me was the best practice that I did. It made me a lot more comfortable for the test because I did not do as bad on the practice test as I feared I would. It also made me comfortable with the setup of the test, so I did not run out of time on any of the sections.* The ACT website also has a Question of the Day program in which you can participate: http://www.act.org/qotd/.
-Buy test preparation guides. For example, the College Board has what is known as the “Blue Book,” which is a guide for studying for the test. It includes practice tests that come from previous tests. It also includes a lot of practice worksheets for skills that you may need to work on. This is also a good practice for the PSAT.
-Sign into your My College Quick Start on the College Board website. It takes your PSAT scores and tells you what you need to study for the SAT.
-Hire a SAT/ACT tutor.
-Take prep classes for these tests. These two options may be expensive, but it can prepare you more. Check to see if your local library is offering some of these classes for free. Sometimes they do.
-Check YouTube. There are a lot of good tip videos from teachers and other officials on there that may help you prepare, especially if you are a visual/audio learner.
Do not be afraid for the ACT Science section. I really was because science isn’t my best subject, but this section is honestly almost a common sense section. The hardest part is not running out of time. I can tell you that I ran out of time on 3 of the 4 sections on the ACT. If I hadn’t, I probably would have gotten a higher score. So, for the science, do not concentrate on the passages before the charts but on the charts themselves.
On the reading, just read as fast as possible. Do not get comfortable. Stay focused. I know it might be hard, but it is what will get you that higher score.
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General Testing Tips
You may have seen some of these tips before.
-Go to sleep early the night before since you will most likely have to wake up really early. Don’t stay up all night playing Minecraft or, if you are like me, watching marathons of Law and Order: SVU. 😉
-Eat a good breakfast the morning of the test so that you are not hungry during it. If you feel you are too nervous, at least eat a protein bar and some fruit or something similar.
-Think happy thoughts! You’ve prepared. You are ready for the test. You are a smart person, and you can and will get a good grade.
-Make sure you have pencils, a calculator, a decent eraser, a charged calculator, etc.
-Listen to classical music before the test. This will calm you down considerably, so you will have an easier time staying focused.
-Bring headphones if you need absolute silence to take the test.
-Bring tissues. No joke. And, no, not to wipe away your tears of agony when you realize that there are still five sections left of the SAT. Some of those classrooms are serious cold.
-Which brings me to: wear a jacket. At least bring a jacket or dress in layers. The cold is definitely a distraction.
-Show up early to the test.
-Make sure your phone is on silent, off, andput away.
-Use the restroom before the test. That’s another distraction.
-If you get stuck on a question, skip it and come back to it.
-Rule out all of the answer choices as you can on a question.
What other test tips do you know of/use?
Steps for Preparing for College in High School
By Krista Zimmerman
When the frenzy of preparing for college sets in, so does chaos and confusion. Most people become consumed with picking a school, choosing a major, saving money, and obtaining oodles of scholarships. This kind of strategy though leaves many people feeling depressed and freaked out. The key to successful college preparation is to know what is really important. There is a way to be confident when it is time to walk onto that campus, even if you do not have everything perfectly laid out.
As admission letters begin to arrive in the mailbox, lots of students begin to feel like they are sinking in a pile of envelopes, stamps, and promises that are probably not as dazzling as they seem. So, what is the smart thing to do? Mainly, it is avoiding choosing that one perfect campus. It is okay to have a choice college or university. But, by keeping your mind open to endless possibilities, you can prevent being disappointed later. Also, working on obtaining a high GPA will ensure you a better chance of getting accepted to lots of colleges and universities. Therefore, the most precise way of preparing to attend college is not picking out a campus, but it is making sure that you can get into any campus that you choose. Nothing is worse than picking out your top ten colleges and then not getting accepted to any of them. Focusing on grades in high school will prevent this scenario from happening.
Many students have the mindset that they need to choose a major as quickly as possible. Guidance counselors approach kids in the eighth grade asking them, ‘What do you want to do after you graduate high school?’ Unfortunately, this question that we hear before we even get to high school drives the next four years of our lives. It is as if we need to answer this question or else we will be doomed to poverty. It would make it much easier if guidance counselors would just ask us ‘What do you want to study when you get to high school?’ So, why not pretend that is what they asked us? Because, guess what? Not knowing what major we want to get by the eighth grade or even by eleventh grade summer is not going to doom us to poverty. Actually, it will not even doom us from going to college. Statistics show that many people that receive a major in a particular field do not even end up working in that field. So why pick a hard fast major before you even know what you are interested in? High school is a time to explore. Taking lots of different electives, getting involved in clubs, community activities, and exploring your talents will prepare you to choose a major that actually fits your personality and abilities. Being driven towards a single major in high school may just land you with a job that you hate someday. If you really want to prepare for college, and more importantly for your future afterwards, then you should spend your high school years discovering your interests.
Saving money and receiving lots of scholarships are important, but they should not be the focus of your college preparation. It is more important to make sure that you get good grades and know what you want to study. After all, what good is it to work tirelessly and save tons of money if it hurts your grades? Colleges and universities are not looking for rich high school students. They are looking for diligent students with good grades. Those types of students, in turn, will have a higher probability of scholarships falling into their lap. Not only this, but, by having a major picked out that is actually suitable, you will not waste all your hard earned money for nothing.
There is no clear cut guide to preparing for college. However, there are things that will definitely make the preparation process easier. Success will come from putting your priorities in their proper order. Little distractions are bound to creep up during the college preparation process. But, with a decent plan in place, the come paranoia caused by college planning can be avoided.
For the SAT/PSAT: https://www.collegeboard.org/
For the ACT/PLAN: http://www.actstudent.org/
For college essay help: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/essays
For scholarships: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/scholarship-search
For homework help: http://www.askrose.org/online-tutoring