SAT and ACT Prep: Advice from a UNC Student

July 02, 2014

Caroline is a student at UNC, and she shared her advice on succeeding on your SAT or ACT.  If you are prepping for your own test days, try some of her suggestions out!

If there is one thing I wish I had known as a senior in high school, it would be the weight that the SAT and ACT scores carry on college admissions. My senior year of high school, I made the mistake of underestimating the SAT and ACT. I did not take the preparation seriously, and as a result I did not score well on either test.  I took both because I figured that I would score decently on at least one of them. However, I recommend only taking the one you will need for your chosen applications.  That way, more time can be devoted towards one test instead of split between two. This strategy would also allow more opportunities for taking practice exams, which I only did once. As part of my preparation, I took an SAT prep course at Sylvan. Although my score did go up in each category as a result, it was only by 50 points at most. I was not as devoted to the course as I should have been due to taking it during cross-country season, and I think if I had taken it during the summer it would’ve been more beneficial. Bottom line is, your score will reflect your personal drive and motivation to succeed. Looking back, if I had paired my preparation with a more serious attitude, my score would have been a lot higher. If I could go back and give myself a list of things to do for preparation, the following would be included.

1.) Vocab, Vocab, Vocab!

During your junior year of high school, dedicate 10 minutes a day to vocabulary. That’s it. A huge portion of the SAT is simply vocabulary, and if you start preparing at the beginning of junior year, by the time you take the test you will be able to skip the cramming.

2.) Take practice exams

A lot of high schools offer practice exams free of charge, and it really is cliché, but practice makes perfect.

3.) Practice courses

A lot of high schools also offer free SAT and ACT preparation classes, which can save a lot of money.  However, investing in an SAT or ACT prep course through programs like Kaplan or Sylvan is also an option.  Either way, these courses are exceptionally helpful due to the fact that a teacher is there for guidance versus self-studying.

4.) Remember: it’s just a test

The SAT and ACT definitely have an impact on your admissions; however, you are not defined by a multiple-choice test! Worst scenario, you bomb it the first time, and take it again.  Bottom line, it’s just a test that is easily mastered by practice, practice, practice!

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