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How to Prepare for Admission Tests
If you’ve started thinking about college, you’ve probably heard about
admission tests, such as the SAT and the ACT. Colleges use scores from
these tests to help them make admission decisions. So it makes sense to
plan to do your best on the exam. Here are some tips to help you do
The Best Way to Prepare
The best way to prepare for an admission test is to work hard both
inside and outside the classroom. Take challenging courses, study hard,
and read and write as much as you can.
You can take some simple, smart steps to help you put your best foot forward.
Know what to expect. Being familiar with the test's
format is the single best way to prepare for that test. Go to the
testing organization’s website or check out books to get familiar with
the various test sections and the instructions for each part. You’ll
feel more confident if you know the test format beforehand, and you can
save valuable time during the exam.
Take preliminary tests. The organizations that offer
the SAT and the ACT also offer tests that are meant to be taken in
sophomore or junior year. The PSAT/NMSQT is available as practice for
the SAT, and PLAN is available as practice for the ACT. These
preliminary, or introductory, tests make great practice tests because
they have the same formats and question types as the admission tests.
Take practice exams — for free or at low cost. The good
news is you don’t need to spend a lot of money on test-prep courses. In
fact, studies show that high-cost test preparation gets most students
little in terms of results. You can find free practice exams on the SAT
and ACT websites and in study guides from the test makers in the
library, bookstores or your counselor's office. These practice exams can
help you discover your strengths and weaknesses and learn to manage
your time wisely during the test.
See what areas need work. When you get the score from
your practice test, pay attention to the types of questions that gave
you trouble and then focus on those areas as you prepare. You can find
advice and practice doing different types of questions on the test
makers’ websites. But remember, the best way to prepare for the test is
to study hard and do well in your classes. So don’t let practicing for
admission tests interfere with your course work.
Check your timing. Be sure to time yourself while
you are completing practice exams so you can experience real test-day
conditions. Admission tests are strictly timed, and their timing is
different from regular high school tests. If you find you finished early
and got easy questions wrong, slow down and read questions more
thoroughly. If you didn’t finish in time, check out the test-taking tips
and study aids on the SAT or ACT website or ask your school counselor
or a teacher for help.
Taking the following steps will help you arrive on time and stay alert during the test.
Get a good night's sleep before the exam. Set out
your admission ticket, identification, acceptable calculator, No. 2
pencils and erasers before going to bed. Set your alarm so you wake
early enough to have time for a good breakfast.
Know where your test center is located. Print out
and review directions in advance. Arrive at the test center early. Leave
extra time to get there in case you run into delays.
Bring a snack. Bring something handy to eat during breaks so you can stay focused and sharp.
Reprinted from BigFuture by the CollegeBoard