Your 2022 Guide to Test Prep and PlanningPosted July 28, 2022, 10:00 am by
Your 2022 Guide to Test Prep
There’s absolutely, positively no doubt that the college process and all that comes along with it can feel overwhelming. The ever-changing landscape of higher education is intimidating. The goal of this seven step guide to test prep is to simplify the standardized testing portion of the college admissions process by breaking it down into easy to follow steps.
This article is part of TeenLife's brand new 2022 Guide to College Admissions. Featuring more than a dozen articles from college pros and admissions experts, this new TeenLife guide is the perfect resource for tackling college admissions head on. Download it for free today!
1. Determine Which Test is Best for You
As recently as 10 years ago, almost no one wondered if they should take the SAT or ACT. Instead, in some parts of the country, you took the ACT. In others, you took the SAT, and almost no one gave the issue a second thought. Now that both tests are much more widely available, students all over have access to either test. Still, it’s easy to feel like colleges might have a “favorite.” But we promise– colleges accept either test and do not prefer one over the other.
The best way to determine which test is best for you is to take a practice SAT and a practice ACT. Students should take practice tests under real-life testing conditions. We want you to be able to get a clear and accurate picture of which test is best for you, and that means taking real tests created by the makers of SAT and ACT. Once you’ve experienced taking both tests and once you’ve received your score reports, you’ll have a good idea of which test is best for you.
2. Register for a Test Date
Once you’ve decided which test you will take, it’s time to register for a test date. You can register for the SAT here and the ACT here. When choosing a date, be sure to give yourself enough time to prepare. Now is a great time to begin to familiarize yourself with the look, feel, and format of the test you will be taking. The SAT has 2 sections—Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (broken down into two subsections: Reading and Writing) and Math (55-minute calculator-optional section and 25-minute no-calculator section). The ACT has English, Reading, Math and Science as well as an optional writing test.
3. Set a Goal Score
Your practice test results will give you a baseline score. From here, you’ll set a goal score. You should make sure your goal score is realistic given the time you have to prepare.
4. Develop a Preparation Plan
Once you’ve chosen a date to take the test and you’ve set a goal score, it’s time to develop a study schedule or “prep plan.” Depending on your score goal, you may decide that you need to study for 40 hours before the test. If you have 10 weeks until the test, you’ll want to dedicate 4 hours per week to studying.
5. Determine the Best Study Method for You
Next, you’ll need to pinpoint exactly how you will study and prepare for the test. For some students, self-studying works well, but many students need a bit more structure. One-on-one tutoring is the best way to optimize your preparation and achieve your potential on the SAT or ACT.
6. Remember: You Can Take the Test Multiple Times
It’s important to give yourself an opportunity to take the SAT or ACT 2-3 times during your testing journey. Many students under-perform the first time they take the test, and if you’re prone to test anxiety, knowing that you only have one chance to do well will make that anxiety even worse.
Most schools "superscore" the SAT and a growing number super score the ACT. Superscoring means that schools will mix and match results from multiple test dates to give you the best overall score. So, for example, if you scored 640 Math and 550 Reading on one SAT and then scored 560 Math and 660 Reading on the next, your super score would be 640 Math and 660 Reading, and that’s the SAT score most schools would use when weighing your college application. The same is true for ACT scores.
7. Keep Deadlines in Mind
Finally, you’ll want to take into account the Early Decision/Early Action deadlines for the schools that you’re interested in applying to. Ideally, you want to give yourself the option to apply early to one or more schools. The latest qualifying test dates for the ACT and SAT are the October test dates of senior year in high school so this means you’ll want to be sure to get in all of your test-sittings prior to these deadlines.
Guide to Test Prep: Conclusion
With the seven tips from this guide to test prep, you’re sure to get the score you want on that next standardized test! For more information on college admissions, download the brand new 2022 Guide to College Admissions!