Five Test-Taking Tips for the SAT and ACT

By Huntington Learning Center

During the spring and summer, many juniors take the SAT/ACT for the first time or the second time—in an effort to raise their scores before applying to colleges in the fall.

College admissions are very competitive, and your student needs to stand out amongst other applicants. High SAT and ACT scores will help them do just that.

How can your student succeed on these important tests? By preparing, of course! They must study the content and focus on areas where they need improvement, but strengthening their test-taking skills is also critical. Here are several tips that will help your student achieve their best score:

  1. Strengthen time management. The SAT and ACT are timed tests, so every second counts. One of the most important factors in a student’s success on either test is the ability to manage their time. Your student should be familiar with the sections of the test they are taking and know what to expect as far as question types and approximate amount of time they can spend on each question. They must leave time at the end to review the exam to ensure no questions were missed or skipped.
  2. Learn to narrow down answer choices. Your student should spend time studying different question types to start recognizing the kinds of answers that can be eliminated. For example, with multiple-choice questions, there are often answer choices that are obviously wrong because they contain absolute words like “always” or “never.”
  3. Improve the focus. If your student struggles to tune out distractions, it’s time well spent to learn how to concentrate in a high-pressure test setting. This takes repeated practice, so remind your student that taking multiple timed practice exams can be very valuable.
  4. Learn how to stay cool under pressure. Stress management is a key part of test-taking success, so remind your student to find ways to get and stay calm. That regimen could include positive self-talk, positive visualization, meditation, and deep breathing to still the mind.
  5. Write down important information before starting. A tried-and-true test-taking tip is to jot down essential facts and formulas as soon as an exam begins. The digital SAT provides a formula sheet to reference, but the ACT does not. For the ACT, as soon as the test begins, your student should write down all math formulas they will need so they can reference them during the test.

Last but not least, remind your student that the SAT and ACT can bolster a college application. They are an opportunity to show your student’s strengths and offset a lower GPA. Applying to college without submitting SAT or ACT scores can harm your student’s chances of admission. Make sure your student has the right mindset about these tests and understands their importance!

If your student needs help, call Huntington! We’ll assess your student’s strengths and weaknesses, work with your student on building their weaker skills, and help them become a more confident test-taker. With the best possible scores on the SAT and ACT, your student’s college and scholarship options will expand tremendously. Let Huntington be your student’s guide!