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Scoring High on the SAT/ACT



  • Read before as much as possible. Many often forget that studying for the SAT/ACT begins long before you ever take a look at a diagnostic exam. The preparation for the verbal section starts with the first serious articles and pages of literature that you read. 
  • Take a diagnostic test. Before you crack a book and begin learning the techniques of taking this exam, take a diagnostic practice test from a test prep book to see where you stand. This is a way of pinpointing your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Take an SAT/ACT prep class. The materials and arrangement of the techniques taught in an SAT/ACT prep course often serve as an accurate and effective guiding light as you begin your preparation for this exam. Well-established providers of test preparation material and classes include Princeton Review and Kaplan. The publishers of the tests also produce prep materials: College Board / ACT. See if you can find them at your local or school library!
  • Learn your vocabulary. This not only involves memorization, but also demands your tenacity and discipline. You should learn and review your vocabulary words every day.
  • Read editorials and create your own questions. One exercise that has proved helpful is to take an article from a newspaper or magazine, and treat it as if it were a critical reading passage. Make up questions for the passage, and proceed to determine how they would be answered. It helps to see the exam from both the test-taker's and the test-maker's point of view.
  • Review the basic rules of grammar. Many high school curricula do not include extensive lessons on grammar. It is useful to find a grammar book on your own and review the basic rules of grammar, especially if your first language is not English.
  • Research and plan for the essay beforehand. Prepare in depth beforehand as much as possible so that you go into the essay with a vague idea of what and how you will write, even before you receive the prompt.
  • Review the basic mathematical rules. Much of the material covered on the math sections of the SAT are concepts that many students learn long before they actually take the exam. It is important that you go back and refresh your memory of these concepts vaguely remembered—this way, you will not make a careless error on an easy problem due to a lack of review.
  • Separate into categories of easy to difficult. This will help you focus the time that you spend on different levels of problems—if you were to simply tackle the test without a methodical plan, there is simply too much material to cover effectively and efficiently.
  • Continue taking diagnostics. As you learn more vocabulary and have more techniques under your belt, you must keep honing your tools and keep them from rusting by testing yourself on a regular basis. This is also a great way to keep the entire test in mind, instead of being bogged down by any one section.
  • Find additional practice problem sets and books. There is a vast quantity of practice sets that are available—make use of these and consistently challenge yourself with new material. Utilize free online resources:
  • Practice, practice, practice! After all is said and done, in the end there is no way around the tedious and time-proven method of practice, practice, and even more practice.


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