Tips for getting your best score on the ACT or SAT

man lying in the grassNothing can replace studying, but there are a few things you can do besides hitting the books that will help you do your best.

The night before:
Don’t study. Don’t even read a book. You don’t want to visually exhaust yourself – you have a long morning ahead of you. If you don’t already know it by now, you’re not going to learn it the night before.

Don’t go to bed too late.

Get everything you need organized. Even if it’s just gathering your pencils and calculator. You don’t want to be scrambling to find these things in the morning.

The morning of the test:
Have your normal breakfast. Not something that will give you a stomach ache or will make you full and sleepy. If you don’t normally have breakfast, at least have a piece of toast and a glass of orange juice. You don’t want to feel hungry at 10 o’clock and there are still a few hours ‘til lunch.

Don’t drink anything with caffeine. Your breakfast will keep you awake – you don’t want to be fidgeting in your desk or experience a crash later.

Be comfortable. Wear sweatpants. Bring a sweater in case it’s cold but wear a t-shirt underneath in case it’s warm. Wear tennis shoes instead of flip flops.

Bring a watch – they won’t allow you to use your cell phone for the time. You don’t want to keep looking around searching for the time.

Get there early. You’ll need time to find the testing site if it’s not at your school. You’ll also need to check in and find the classroom before the test starts.

Go to the bathroom right before you go in to take the test. It’s just one less thing you need to worry about.

You’ll probably see some of your friends at the test. It’s fine to say hi, but remember to stay focused. Don’t buy into any negative attitudes. The conversation shouldn’t be about how stupid the test is, how terrible it’ll be, or anything else that will take your attention away. The bad attitude will carry over to your test.

During the test
Stay focused. Don’t spend too much time on any one question and keep track of the time.

If you’re stuck on a word during the test, think of similar sounding words in any languages you might have taken, especially a Romance language. You might get some clues to the meaning to help you make an educated guess.

If you’re really stressed out, take a moment to breathe and get your things in order.

After the test
Congratulations! You made it!

If you’ve just completed your first one, sign up for a second. Don’t wait until you get your scores. Taking the test twice will give you the best chance of getting the highest score. The second time around you’ll be more comfortable and know what to expect.
There’s no need to take it a third time unless you’re extremely unsatisfied with your first two scores. You might look desperate to colleges, especially if you do worse. If you choose to take a test prep course after your second one, definitely take it a third time.


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