As you start studying for and taking the SAT or ACT, you may find yourself in one of two situations: Either you’ve taken the SAT or ACT before and didn’t get as high of a score as you were aiming for or you’re taking practice tests before your SAT and you aren’t seeing any score improvement from those.
In both cases, you may be feeling frustrated and hopeless, thinking that you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be working. Rest assured, however, that not all hope is lost. We at Edbrand have made a detailed list of some study strategies you can try today to improve your SAT or ACT score. Read through it and see if there’s a strategy you haven’t tried yet!
1. Identify Your Deficiencies
Reviewing all the concepts and doing all the practice problems you can find may be an inefficient use of your study time, especially after you’ve been doing that for a while. A better way to help your SAT score is to target your review of concepts and practice questions towards those that you struggle with the most.
You can identify these deficiencies by going back through your completed practice exams/questions and analyzing the questions that you got wrong. More often than not, you’ll find that one or two specific subjects, concepts, or type of questions accounted for most of your missed points.
2. Create A Study Plan
Once you’ve identified your deficiencies and know what topics to focus on, bring out a calendar and plan out what day and time in the next few weeks/months you are going to review and what concepts you are going to review. To be thorough, you can also decide what materials you are going to use to review each concept.
While you’re making your test prep plan, make sure you work in some time to do some practice problems. It’s important to not just review the material for the SAT/ACT on a conceptual level but to also apply it in the way that you will be expected to on the exam. If you can master the practice questions, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to master the concepts on the exam.
3. Widen Your Breadth of Study Materials
Until this point, you may have been relying on a test prep book, an online app, or your old class notes to study for this exam. While this method may be working for you and you may be understanding the material that is right in front of you, you may be missing some of the key material that will be covered on the exam. One test prep resource may not cover every concept, vocab, or type of question that’ll be on the real SAT/ACT.
Thus, in order to increase your score, you may want to seek out some new study materials. Here are some of the materials that are available to you:
- SAT/ACT Prep Apps: These apps can be accessed wherever you are, making it easy to study for the SAT/ACT no matter where you are. If you don’t know which apps to download, try consulting The Best Apps to Organize Your College Planning.
- Test Prep Books: Even if you’ve already bought one, it might be worth trying a different brand to see different test strategies and ways of approaching each testable concept. You may even want to consider purchasing or borrowing a book of just practice questions to get some more practice in.
- Flash Cards: There are various flashcards you can purchase at your local bookstore to help you with concepts like vocabulary words or important mathematical formulas that won’t be given to you on the formula sheet. You can even make the flashcards yourself. Making the flashcards could even serve as an extra review of the concepts!
4. Know The Test
It may be worth spending a few hours to go over the structure of the test, the types of questions that are going to be asked, what the graders are looking for in the essay, and overall figuring out how you can use the test to your advantage. By knowing how CollegeBoard and the ACT organization structure and approach their exam, you can start to see the test from their perspective and come up with some test-taking strategies that will increase your score.
For example, the SAT questions (with the exception of Critical Reading) are arranged in ascending order of difficulty. Thus, you shouldn’t spend a lot of time on the questions at the beginning and to save your time for the trickier questions at the end. This strategy will help you finish the exam and answer every question with the highest possible accuracy.
As another example, the ACT will reward you with one point for a right answer on their multiple choice section, but they will not deduct any points for a wrong answer. Thus, it is beneficial, on the ACT, to answer every single question, regardless of whether you are confident in that answer or not. After all, you have a 25% chance of getting it right.
5. Be Disciplined
Even if you’ve set aside enough study time during the past few weeks/months, you haven’t been as efficient with your studying as you may have led yourself to believe. If you’ve found yourself on your phone or laptop, checking social media, talking with friends or family, or do anything other than studying for your exam during your allotted study time, you probably haven’t done as much studying as you think you have.
Remember that, while you’re studying, all distractions should be far away from you. That means that the phone should be off, the laptop should be put away, and you should be studying in a quiet space away from others. As long as you focus on studying during your study time, you’ll be able to retain and recall the material better on the actual exam.