As the school year starts nearing its end, there’s one thing on everyone’s mind—summer. In addition to summer, high school students are bombarded with another impending item—tests.  Whether you are preparing to take your last shot at the ACT/SAT, gearing up for another year of ACT/SAT tests or preparing to take them for your first time, we’ve gathered some helpful information for you. 

There are plenty of kids out there who have unlocked the secrets to ACT/SAT prep, and while the two tests are inherently different—ACT tests knowledge, while the SAT tests critical thinking skills—here are some no-brainer tips for any test you’re facing:

  1. Get plenty of rest the night before. Cramming rarely works, but it especially does not work for ACT/SAT. A sleep-deprived brain is not conducive to 3+ hours of productive brainwork in a taxing environment.
  2. Eat that breakfast! Food is fuel, and you will need to go into the test with all cylinders firing. A healthy breakfast will jumpstart your day and help set your brain in motion.
  3. Take a lot of pencils. Nobody wants to mess with a broken pencil lead. So instead of taking a personal sharpener, just have five or six pencils on-hand. Then, if one breaks, you can just toss it and keep going with the next one.

If you do these basic things, you will automatically set yourself up for a good testing experience. It’s all about the mindset, and if you are hungry or sleepy, it will only distract you from the work you are about to do.

ACT-specific test tips (from real college kids)

  1. Try working backwards in the math section. “The math gets progressively harder as you go along,” Sydney Scott, a student at Oklahoma Christian University, said. “I would have a lot of problems because I would be so brain-tired by the time I neared the end, and those are the hardest problems. So, I worked backwards one time, and as long as you can keep it straight on the answer sheet, it’s the best way. I got my highest math score that time.”

  2. Don’t take time to read for comprehension on the science portion. The science portion tests your logic skills more than you science skills. The trick is to weed through the big, scary-looking science words. “It’s a time-waster,” said Laine Weatherford, a junior at a local university. “Take a look at the questions first, and notice the key words. Then you can just skim through the actual problems for those key words and usually you will come right to the answer.” 


SAT-specific test tips (from real college kids)

  1. Don’t guess. Unlike the ACT, the SAT penalizes you for guessing answers incorrectly. “If you cannot eliminate any answers, or even if you can only eliminate one or two, don’t try to guess!” said Parker LaMascus, a local college sophomore. “It will only hurt your score." 

  2. Figure out your reading method. Several college students conferred that there is a different reading method for everyone, but there is no one “right method.” So whether you are someone who skims, reads in full or jumps straight to the questions, utilize your skill set! Take some practice exams to see what method works for you. Just one thing: make sure you read the introductory paragraphs. Contrary to the ACT, the SAT has valuable information found in the intro paragraphs that will set you back significantly if you don’t read it.

Best of luck to all the students facing tough tests! The High Five Media team is rooting for you.