Editor’s note: The CVN is partnering with Scott High School student-teacher Terry Bartley’s journalism class to print some student work. Look for more stories in the pages of CVN through the end of the school year.
WEST MADISON — Taking the ACT and SAT is a major step to take when planning for college and Scott High School juniors will be taking the SAT on Tuesday, April 13.
These tests measure student’s college readiness and figure out whether they are ready to take the next step. These tests are important for college admissions, but also offer scholarship opportunities. Test scores can open up opportunities for students in their near future, so it is important to know what to do when approaching these challenging tests. Many tips and tricks are available to help students get the scores they want.
First, students should familiarize themselves with the details. Understanding the structure of the test is going to save them a significant amount of time on test day. The ACT and SAT have different structures. Study both test structures to decide which test is the right fit. It is also going to take lots of practice. Set time aside to take real, full-length practice tests. Students will eventually get accustomed to the time limits and be able to skillfully pace themselves on each question.
Try to memorize several types of problems before taking the tests, especially in the math section. The SAT exam lists some formulas for test takers at the front of each math section, but the ACT exam does not, so it is important that they know all basic math formulas and concepts. Once students begin memorizing the problems, they should be able to reduce time they spend on a question.
Brittani Adkins, Scott High School English teacher, says that it is important for students to answer the questions they think they know how to answer first.
“All questions are worth the same amount of points, so don’t waste time on difficult questions you will likely have to guess on anyway when you could spend more time on another question you know you will get right,” Adkins said.
The final large piece of advice is for students to increase their vocabulary and reading skills. Sections on the tests will challenge reading skills. If students practice reading and understanding challenging books and articles, they are sure to increase test scores. If they come across words that are unfamiliar, keep track of it and look up its meaning. Adkins says that not only will this help them in the ACT and SAT, but it will help them throughout your life.
It is especially important to know the differences between the ACT and SAT so students can take the one best for them. After surveying ten students, it was found that four out of the ten students preferred taking the ACT over the SAT, while the other six preferred the SAT. The number is fairly divided, showing that one test is not necessarily easier than the other, but can be easier depending on the student and how they understand information and take tests. It is recommended to take both tests to find which is best for each individual test taker personally. If the scores are drastically different on each test, that should tell them which test is the one for them.
There are many test prep. resources available if needed, such as tutoring specifically for the ACT/SAT.
“Only use practice test that are provided like College Board or Khan Academy. Don’t use outside resources because they are not the same,” Adkins said.
However, Adkins says using these tips will also be extremely useful in making progress. Giving yourself plenty of time to study will prepare you to face these tests head-on. ACT/SAT prep apps are available if students want to study on the move. They are also useful for tracking progress.