Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tips & Tricks: SAT and ACT

Today I completed my second ACT, fourth achievement test overall. Hopefully, it was my last! Personally, I do not understand the need for tests like these. Yes, it is a way to determine your intelligence based on a national level, but it truly is not based on classroom knowledge. It is basically a game: someone who is unsuccessful in the classroom could score much higher than a straight A student because of the format. You do not need any previous knowledge, and you can't study. That's what truly bothers me. I HAVE to study in order to do well. I memorize quite easily, so you can see why it is so hard for me to prepare for the test. 

Also, despite the magnanimous weight the ACT and SAT have on a student prepping for college, it baffles me how some can be so ill-prepared. This test could potentially effect which college you attend, and you do not remember a pencil? That is a rookie mistake if anything. Seeing that I've taken four of these achievement tests, I feel qualified to bestow my wisdom on all who need some advice when it comes to this subject.

1. Take both tests. 
 Some schools only suggest you take the SAT, but my preference is to take both. I think this is the best way to prepare for your college applications. I, personally, do better on the ACT (I don't like the omitting-factor of the SAT). But just because I do better on the ACT doesn't mean that you will too. Everybody has their own preference. If you prefer the ability to omit a question, the SAT is probably for you. If you, like me, prefer to guess on questions instead of leaving them blank, you might do better on the ACT. 

2. Take the tests multiple times. 
The SAT and ACT are graded differently for each test date depending on how the nation does on that particular exam. Which date you take the test could change your score drastically. It is also better to take the tests multiple times because you will get used to the format. I felt much more comfortable the second time I took each test. 

3. Get a tutor. 
If you really aren't comfortable studying on your own because the test is much different than anything you've ever taken, get a tutor. Yes, they cost money, but if you really want a good score, you have to be willing to do anything. Like I said earlier, you can't really study for the exam. Alhtough you can't learn information for the tests, you can be taught the tricks of the SAT and ACT. For example, in the math section, try to plug the answer choices in. This can save you a lot of time. It also helps to get a lot of practice before you test. 

4. Get your calculator programmed. (ACT only).
For the SAT you are given a sheet of formulas for the math portion. However, on the ACT you do not. My tutoring center provided it's customers with the opportunity to have their calculators programmed with formulas, from the quadratic to the area of a parallelogram. And don't worry, this does not break any ACT rules. 

5. Don't forget. 
There are a few things that are essential for taking the SAT and ACT. First, do not forget your ID and admission ticket. You can't enter a testing room/center if you lack these two items. The admissions ticket is also needed for providing information on your answer sheet. Next, do not forget pencils. Three people this morning did not come prepared with pencils. YOU MUST USE PENCILS. Also, mechanical pencils are not allowed, so don't even try to bring one. Another thing, don't forget your calculator. They say that you can do all problems without a calculator, but come on. Do you want to risk it? Snacks are also a great thing not to forget!

6. DO NOT freak out.
That is possibly the worst thing you could do. Yes, it is important for getting into your school of choice, but you can always take it again. 


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