College Planning Guide

Preparing for the SAT or ACT

Both the SAT and the ACT measure what you've learned over the course of many years.

So the key to getting a good score is to begin preparing for the test early and to make it part of your regular routine.

Set aside an hour or two each week to review test prep materials and take practice tests. Here are four ways to get started:

  • Ask your guidance counselor for test preparation materials. They're free and include sample tests, an answer sheet and scoring instructions.
  • Head to the web to download sample tests and other test preparation materials at the College Board and ACT sites.
  • Consider purchasing a practice manual. There are dozens available priced from about $15 and up. Some even include CD-ROMs complete with sample tests and other interactive features.
  • Check out all the new test preparation software. These new programs are designed to measure your specific needs and then create a personalized training program specifically for you.

Once you get your feet wet, think about taking a traditional or online test preparation course.

These courses are taught by trained professionals, run for about three months, and typically include class sessions, sample tests, and study materials.

In the meantime, read novels and newspapers to work on your grammar and comprehension. Do lots of logic problems and crossword puzzles to learn how to read closely and precisely.

And practice converting fractions to decimals. You'll use that skill over and over again on the math portion of the test.

Ready to take a sample test?

Both College Board and ACT have posted free official sample tests on their websites, along with other test preparation tips and resources.

College Board SAT Preparation Center
ACT Test Prep