The great thing about college prep is that it actually does prep you for college. While your end goal may be getting through the entrance exams and catching the attention of your top schools, that prep will also develop good habits and teach you the techniques that you can use to excel once you make the transition to higher education. Here are five essential tips that can give you a leg-up on exams and prepare you for the academic demands of college.
Be Strategic With Your Studies
While the SAT and the ACT cover fundamentally similar materials, that doesn’t mean that they’re interchangeable. There are some core values that distinguish them from each other, and understanding these quirks can give you a big boost to your performance. The SAT, for instance, includes formulas for their math problems while the ACT demands test-takers come prepared with that knowledge. They also tend to provide more straightforward questions than their counterparts in the SAT. To a large extent, studying is all about playing to your expectations of the test itself, and that can extend well into your college life. All tests come with some form of inherent bias, and understanding that bias will better help you ace them.
Keep Things Short and Sweet
Reading the materials is a good thing. Reading and re-reading materials over and over again aren’t. You want to make sure that your study materials are as condensed and as easy to absorb as possible, and that’s going to be different for everyone. Whether it means breaking everything down into bullet points or making flashcards to study from, it’s important to find a delivery method for the information that doesn’t take up all of your time. Mnemonic devices can go a long way towards helping with rote memorization, but it’s also something that needs to be personalized for the way your brain works.
Don’t Neglect the Practice Tests
The great thing about college entrance exams is that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see what they look like up close and personal. It’s encouraged, if not expected, that test-takers will try practice tests before taking the SAT or ACT formally, and the creators of both tests actually release official practice tests. There are currently seven practice tests for the latest version of the SAT and five for the ACT. If those aren’t enough, you’ll also find many privately released practice tests. Just exercise a little more caution with these unofficial tests, and look for those offered by trusted names like LA Tutors 123.
Parcel Out Your Study Time
The number of materials covered by both the ACT and the SAT are far too large for you to just cram blindly for. Instead, you need to think strategically and consider how much of your score will be affected by each subject. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to split up your studying time at ratios that match up with each subject’s proportions in the overall test. Once you have a better understanding of your competencies and a feel for how well you do on the practice tests, you can adjust how you break up those study hours with more confidence.
Be Ready to Pursue Help
While you obviously can’t have someone to help you in the exam room, including others into your study routine can help offer more well-rounded insight into other concepts. Having different peers in a study group lets you see varied perspectives on different issues, and it helps you shore up your issues by getting guidance from someone who better understands them. If you’re serious about preparing for either test, you’ll probably want to get yourself lined up with a tutor as well. Whether you need someone to help you structure your study habits, a training partner for memorization, or an advisor to provide precise insight, they can be one of the most valuable tools in college prep.