College Entrance Exams and Study Tips!
By: Amber Wilson
It is a universal American teenage experience to take a college entrance exam at this point, something dreaded by all and begrudgingly taken. Whether the SAT or ACT, the basis is the same: a standardized test to measure math, verbal, analytical, and writing skills for college preparedness.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many colleges and universities have transitioned to test-optional applications in which students decide whether or not to submit test scores. However, with the increasingly competitive nature of the college admissions process, having a good test score to round out your college resume is never a bad thing to have.
The SAT and ACT are estimated to take about three hours but have slight differences in composition. The SAT emphasizes reading and writing, with 154 questions total (52 Reading, 58 Math, 44 Writing/Language). The more STEM-focused ACT has 215 questions total (75 Reading, 60 Math, 40 Science, 40 Writing/Language). Nonetheless, these study tips will apply to both tests!
- Prepare Now: Do NOT wait until the night before to try and cram everything you need to know. Khan Academy has great resources to prepare for those standard test question formats to practice answering questions frequently asked on the SAT and ACT.
- Set Realistic Goals: Regardless of the amount of time before your exam, setting a realistic goal will help put things into perspective. Understanding your situation will maximize productivity while helping you stay grounded within the realm of possibility.
- Take Care of Yourself: It is important to stay physically and mentally healthy while you study for standardized tests, so be sure to take care of your body. Taking breaks while studying, eating and sleeping properly, and maintaining pre-existing routines is important to operate at your best for exams!
- Have an Open Mindset: Regardless of what happens in your exams, you can still be successful in life. Worrying about it after the fact won’t change your score, so try not to dwell on it until you get your score back. If you don’t do as well as you had hoped, remember you can always take it again.
- Learn from your Mistakes: So your score was not as high as you hoped, and you signed up for another testing date- that is okay! Look at your previous score and see what areas need improvement, and focus on those during your studying for the next one.
The biggest thing to remember is that exams do not define you as a person– there is so much more to you than a score on a test. Best of luck to anyone preparing for the SAT and ACT!