Summer is the perfect time to get ahead on studying for the SAT and ACT. Set aside a few minutes a day to study and you’ll avoid having to study during the school year. Boost your studying know-how with these handy (but often ignored) tips:
Have you ever been working on an essay but found yourself flipping to Facebook or another website every few minutes? It feels impossible to make progress when you can hardly focus long enough to write a single sentence! Here’s a handy tip to avoid this in the future, both with schoolwork and studying: When you’re ready to work, go straight to work before getting on the internet. Open up Microsoft Word before Firefox, or do a few math problems from your assignment before checking the news. Try this, and you’ll be amazed how effective it is. In fact, after you’ve been working for 15 minutes, it usually won’t matter if you take a break and check Facebook, because you’ll go right back to work. Since your body is in the right mindset, you’ll find that you can finish your work faster and have more time for the things you enjoy. Try this, it really works.
2. Study Vocabulary
The vocabulary on the English section is the only thing you actually have to memorize for the SAT. Start early, learning a few words a day and reviewing them periodically. There is a multitude of resources available for this, so there’s no reason not to start now. Five minutes a day can improve your SAT score by 100 points!
Of course this one is obligatory—but it’s important! You have no other tools on standardized tests besides a pencil, and eraser, your brain, and a calculator. Which one of these do most people fail to use? (hopefully it’s not their brains!) There are tons of resources other places and here on Calcblog to help you learn to use your calculator effectively. Just remember, you can’t expect to program formulas into your calculator or read up the day before the test and except to succeed. Learning to use your calculator is much more than this, including understanding how to use built-in functions and being able to identify when using a calculator can be helpful. Your calculator alone won’t improve your scores a single point; you have to know how to wield this powerful device.
4. Set up a Study Schedule and Stick To it
Procrastination is the enemy of students everywhere, and it can completely derail your study plans. If you wait until the last week to study for the SAT or ACT, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed at how much you have to do and will probably give up on studying altogether. By starting early (now!), and setting aside 30 minutes or an hour a day, you can be completely prepared in a month or two when you decide to take the test. Treat studying like your job—after all, the payout can be just as impressive!
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
The number one way to ace the SAT or ACT is to practice. Even if you don’t see results at first, these tests reuse many of the same problems, and you’ll eventually start to see them over and over again. On top of that, you’re honing your reading and problem solving skills for the test. Practice improves confidence and will help you avoid getting choked up if you encounter difficulties during the actual test. For question types such as reading comprehension, practice is the only real way to get better!
6. Study Wisely
Studying and practicing might seem like the same thing to you, as they do for most people, but they’re not! There is information you need to learn and review (vocabulary, math techniques, etc.) for the SAT and ACT without ever opening a practice test. You’ll see a lot of this type of information whenever you open a test prep book. Many people ignore this section and just take the practice tests because it seems unhelpful or just plain overwhelming. Here’s how to deal with it: Most people study incorrectly—they keep reviewing things that they already know. You can set yourself apart by becoming a conscious studier; look through everything and mark off what you already know so that you can come back and only focus on the things you need to improve. This saves time while getting the maximum benefit possible.
7. Chart Your Progress
This doesn’t mean simply taking practice tests and comparing your scores. It means creating a plan and marking off what things you have learned or are comfortable with. This can go along with #2 and #4 as well. Creating a visual representation of your study work can help to inspire confidence and keep you on track!
8. Reward Yourself
Don’t kill yourself studying, and try to have something to look forward to afterwards; a snack, hanging out with friends, playing video games, etc. This encourages you to study on a regular basis and makes the entire process more fun.
Oftentimes, one of the biggest problems for people is getting flustered and bombing an entire section. This can be avoided by being well prepared and by relaxing before the test. Don’t kill yourself studying the night before. Instead watch a movie, go to bed early, get up and eat a good breakfast before the test. During the test, read each question completely to avoid making stupid mistakes, and if you can’t get a question then move on to the others before coming back to it at the end. Remember, not getting the score you want isn’t the end of the world, either—there’s always next time. However, if you’re well prepared, then you’re sure to impress yourself and college admissions officers.
As always, good luck in your studies, and thanks for following Calcblog!