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How to prepare over the summer for the SAT or ACT

July 2015

In a previous article, we talked about when best time to start preparing for the SAT/ACT. If you’ve just finished Year 11 (Grade 10 in the US system), this summer is a perfect opportunity to start thinking about these exams, and to become somewhat familiar with the format of the test. There is an ACT test at the beginning of September, and the first SAT is at the beginning of October, so you could even have a go at them if you feel prepared enough. However, you should be aware of the new SAT coming in in May 2016, which may play a big part in whether you take the SAT or ACT.

Here are some tips to help you prepare over the summer holidays.

For those who have just finished Year 11 (Grade 10):
  • Once school is over, take a bit of time to relax and clear your mind.
  • Get hold of the College Board SAT book or the official ACT book and familiarise yourself with the sections, how the test is laid out, etc.
  • Seriously consider taking the ACT - this will mean you can start preparing now and not worry about the changeover to the new SAT, which will be here in May 2016.
  • Start doing a few easy questions from each section, to get an idea of what they are like.
  • Do a whole test under timed conditions to get a feel for what is expected of you. (Don’t worry if you find this very difficult: that’s normal at the beginning!)
  • Think about getting a tutor who specialises in the SAT/ACT to help you through the content, the tricks, techniques and timing, and to give you direction on how to prepare.
  • Read plenty of good books/newspapers to improve your vocabulary. Practise by using the words in everyday writing and speech.
  • Do little and often (of all sections), to keep your brain active.
  • Register for the exams in July.
  • Towards the end of the summer holidays, start doing whole timed sections as practice.
  • Do another mock test to see if you are ready to take it in September/October.
If you have just finished Year 12 (Grade 11), it is not too late, but you will have to work extra hard! Here is what you should do now:
  • Get a tutor who can help you with everything you need to know, including the tricks and timing techniques.
  • Decide which SAT II Subject Tests you're going to take - these will be in addition to the SAT/ACT, and you will need to take these in October, November or December.
  • Get a vocabulary book and learn plenty of new words.
  • Do a whole test under timed conditions to get a feel for what is expected of you.
  • Practise by doing a section a day, alternating between sections.
  • If you are much weaker on one section, spend more time on that.
  • Make sure you register for the exams in July!
  • In August, start doing timed sections, noting where you finish, but go back and doing the questions you missed/got wrong and make sure you understand them.
  • By the end of August you should be doing two timed sections per day.
  • Sit another whole timed mock test.
  • Note: the above applies to SAT II Subject Tests as well - make sure you practise for these too!
Always make sure that you spend more time on the sections you find harder! And never shy from testing yourself regularly: for example, the College Board ‘Question of the day’ is good fun.

Whatever situation you’re in, we can help you prepare properly. Contact us now for free advice.
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