SAT/ACT Study Tips Needed!

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by USNADaGOAL, May 4, 2016.

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  1. USNADaGOAL

    USNADaGOAL New Member

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    Any advice is very appreciated and will be put to good use. My SAT and ACT scores are lacking right a the moment, and I would like to see what others have done to achieve high scores.
    Thank you
     
  2. Padre101

    Padre101 Parent

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    Glad to see that you are trying to improve and enhance your chances, but there are literally dozens and dozens of threads on this topic. Do some research!

    Best wishes to you.
     
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  3. Skegs

    Skegs Member

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    Your math classes may be advanced and you therefore need to study geometry and the math found on the SAT. I recommend tutorial from an SAT specialist who can teach and review the type of questions you find on the SAT, and then practice, practice, practice.
     
  4. Blessedmom

    Blessedmom Member

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    Invest$ & goto SAT prep school over this summer.
     
  5. canislupus

    canislupus New Member

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    Taking practice tests are, in my opinion, the best way to practice for the actual test. Buy a prep book and take all the tests in the book.
     
  6. frenzymando

    frenzymando Banned

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    I earned pretty good scores and I feel like almost anyone can get solid scores without exerting an inordinate amount of effort. Sometimes it's not about how hard you work, but how effectively. Here are some words of advice I wish I had about a year and a half ago:

    1. I would recommend you to choose the ACT, it's a lot easier to improve your score in in my experience.

    2. Buy quality materials. To be frank, most ACT/SAT study books are complete garbage. They have a lot of questions in them, but they're written by people who don't really know all that much about the ACT/SAT. In other words, most practice books do not not test the same concepts the ACT/SAT does, do not try to trick you the way the ACT/SAT does and overall simply do not accurately reflect the actual ACT/SAT. IMO the very best ACT practice book is "The Real ACT". It has a couple ACTs that were used in the past as well as the answers explained for every question. The best math study book in my experience was, and this will probably be surprising, "PSAT NMSQT Second Edition" by McGraw-Hill. It has a section where it explains every math concept in great detail that can possibly show up on the PSAT(which is very similar to the ACT/SAT). If you go through this entire section and learn everything in it, and also go over the math section of the book "Up your score ACT" 2014-2015 edition you are basically gaurenteed to get a 36 on the math section of the ACT unless your screw up and make a stupid mistake.

    3. Realize how great of an investment studying for this test is. If you have a 25 right now and you study for 40 solid hours you can probably get that 25 to a 30. That can easily make the difference between getting into USNA or not, getting a scholarship or not, or getting into another selective university or not. I've read the USNA education is worth $350k. If you go from a 25 to a 30 on the ACT, your chances of getting in go up significantly, I would guess at least 10%. So for 40 hours of your time, you have just increased your odds of winning $350k by 10%, possibly even more. That's $35k for just 40 hours of your time. You might never get a job that pays that high. Treat studying for the ACT/SAT like a job, a high paying job where you earn close to or even more than $1000 an hour.

    4. Start studying months prior to the test, I would say a minimum of 3 months.

    5. Learn to manage your time. Skip questions that look very time consuming and put them off to the end. You're probably applying to USNA which doesn't look at reading or science, but this could help with your applications to other colleges. In the reading section if you typically struggle on a certain type of passage, do that passage last. In the science section when you get to the part where it has a bunch of scientists making different hypotheses, skip that part and come back later because it takes forever. You can miss questions and get a high score, you just can't miss very many questions. You get 1 point for the hardest question and 1 point for the easiest, so it's best to rack up all the easy points first then try and get the hard ones.

    6. Understand why you are missing questions. Every mistake you make on a test happens for a reason. Figure out why you are making the mistakes and learn from it. If you don't understand why you are missing questions you will just continue to make that same mistake every time the concept pops up.

    7. Spend the most time on your weakest section. For a 32 you can miss about 10% of the questions. For a 35 you can miss 1 question. It's not that hard to go from a 28->32, it's pretty hard to go from a 32->35.

    8. When you take practice tests, mark every question that you aren't 100% sure that you got right. After the test, go over these questions even if you got them right. You want to be 100% confident in all of your answers.

    9. You can pay like $10 or something to have your test mailed to you after you take the ACT. If you can afford it, always order this, and always go over the test. You spent 4 hours of your life on that test, you might as well learn something from it.

    10. Use the internet to try and find real ACT tests that have been released. "The Real ACT" book that I mentioned earlier only has a couple tests (I think 5 or 6). Before you start taking them, study a ton. Once you take a test you can never accurately take it again because you have prior knowledge of the test. You can probably find a couple more real ACT tests online, but really make sure you make the most of each and every one of . them. There aren't very many of them for you to use, so don't waste them and start taking them without even studying. Taking 1 might not be a bad idea just to see where you are at, but don't just blow through all the tests without studying first. You'll run out of tests to take which is a huge problem.

    11. This is probably my most important piece of advice to you: don't take things too seriously. This test does not determine your worth as a human being. This test does not say how smart you are. This test does not say how successful you will be in life. It's just some stupid, poorly designed test that unfortunately colleges feel is very important. That being said, sometimes you have to do stupid things to get ahead in life. This is one of those times, and this is probably one of the biggest opportunities you will have in your life. This test can change the course of your career. Take it seriously, but at the same time, realize it's not the end of the world if you don't do well on it. My brother has a friend who wasn't good at standardized tests at all, couldn't crack a 20. Because of his low scores he ended up not earning any scholarship money and elected to not go to college rather than drown himself in student loan debt. Now he works as a computer programmer and is making more than most college graduates out there. The ACT/SAT, USNA and colleges in general are just several avenues to success in life. There are many other avenues out there. It's not the end of the world if you can't do well on this test.
     
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  7. hockeygirl

    hockeygirl Member

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    I use an online resource called "Shmoop" that has worked wonders for both SAT/ACT and AP tests. Another website that is useful is http://number2.com/ , or you could use Kahn Academies SAT prep resource (which tailors itself to your knowledge).

    I have also heard that the Barron books are better than any other test prep book in the regard that they are harder and prepare you better.
     
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  8. brovol

    brovol Member

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    This post is pure GOLD!! My son improved his scores substantially, and used most of these concepts.

    This is probably the best of all the ACT/SAT posts I have read on these forums. Great job.
     
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  9. brovol

    brovol Member

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    The other point I will add is that, as between the ACT and SAT, with super-scoring the ACT is a better option, as it has four separately scored sections, as opposed to basically two with the SAT. Thus, there is a better chance of improving at least one section, by way of ability or luck, even if your overall composite score for that exam may stay the same or go down. You can also focus on only a section or two, and ignore the other sections, thus maximizing your study time and effort. This is particularly true with USNA, which only considers only the math and English sections.
     
  10. MilVetSpouseMom

    MilVetSpouseMom Member

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    To improve test scores our DD took a 'SAT boot camp' during spring break of her junior year. Heard some parents say they spent over $2,000 for test help- yikes...We found a program at a local college for $250 for the week (4 hrs reading/4 hrs math for 5 days) and her score improved! Check with your local community colleges for great rates and options. Take tests (both SAT & ACT) as often as possible- she took them several times both 11th & 12th grades. They are a necessary evil for colleges.
     
  11. Just Dad

    Just Dad Member

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    Posted this info elsewhere, but the question is asked again.

    Short story; I had a kid move her ACT from a 17 to a 25 (bottom 30% to top 20%)over the course of 4 months. She took a prep course over summer, (we used Princeton Review on advise of my sister who taught SAT review courses). The most valuable thing my daughter did was to take proctored ACT practice tests, (full up simulations) and then sit down with a tutor (about every-other test) to review what she was getting wrong and why. She did this every Sat. morning (4hrs) for three months. In the end "The Real Thing ACT" was just another day at the office for her from a stress standpoint. She knew just about every form a question would take for each exam section, what each exam section was looking for (at least historically), and she'd resolved areas of the test that were giving her trouble.

    You will find places that do proctored practice exams regularly. Just talk to PSAs (prospective student-athletes) or coaches. ACT/SAT tests are a big part of getting some athletes into school, (or into a better school). The charge for taking the practice exams shouldn't be much, you will be just another butt in a chair for the person keeping time and collecting booklets. The after exam reviews will cost you, tutoring time. It will be the most valuable (per hr) tutoring you can do. You and the tutor will be able to get right down to the strengths/weaknesses demonstrated on an ACT/SAT test you just took.

    Invest in "THE BEST" tutor available, the ROI varies hugely from tutor to tutor in our experience. Here again, PSA's and Coaches will provide good "vectors" to tutors with reputations for getting results. Anybody can advertise as a tutor on Craig's List. Tutoring "brokers" really don't know much (or care much) about how effective their tutors are, they just stick resumes up on websites as near as I can tell. Ask around! Note: This kid with the 17 ACT, has some learning disabilities; I've hired my share of tutors over the years.

    You can take a timer into the ACT exam. There is a wrist watch style timer designed just for the SAT or ACT that tells you at a glance time remaining for each exam section, (no thinking and you can't screw it up), at around $40 its a good buy for your training and as insurance on exam day (search "ACT timer on Amazon")

    BTW: a 25 is not a "USNA score" as near as I can tell. The kid with the 25 is not my plebe-to-be, but I am every bit as proud of her as I am the one headed to the USNA.

    BTW#2: Don't overlook your writing submission. I don't sit on the USNA admissions board, but I do know from other admissions board Exp. that what you write, (content and form), matters. A good message, well delivered ,(stylistically/grammatically), should offset a point or two deficit on your ACT, once you meet the magic ACT/GPA qualifying threshold (whatever those super secret #s are)

    Good Luck. You are already a Stud for taking up the service academy admissions challenge IMO. You are obviously smart/resourceful enough to find resources like this board and aggressive enough to put them use. I like your chances!-------(relatively speaking)
     
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  12. HassamaMama

    HassamaMama Member

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    You must do as MANY practice problems as you can possibly do - get different books and give yourself 5 minutes less on each section you complete than what the section actually gives you - this will help you work on time management as in the last five minutes on the actual test you will be able to go back and check it over.

    I really cannot stress enough how important it is to do as many types of problems as possible - because of this it does not matter which company book you buy, just do as many problems as you can, mix it up (Princeton Review, Kaplan, Barron's, College Board). Exposing yourself to varying difficulties and types has you prepared for anything, and managing your time as suggested makes it even easier.

    Good luck bud!

    Credentials:
    SAT - 770 M, 720 CR
    ACT - 35 M, 35 E
     
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  13. time2

    time2 Member

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    Honestly, if you aren't good in Math or English, I seriously doubt that any amount of studying/tutoring or tips/tricks will enable you to suddenly get top notch ACT/SAT scores. While it is fine to use some studyguides, online websites, training aids, etc. you also need to be honest with yourself about how well you are doing in those subjects. Standardized tests measure basic skills learned all throughout h.s. Taking the tests multiple times is no guarantee of higher scores. Your score might go up as well as down.
     
  14. Zandercott

    Zandercott USAFA

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    Do not let that last post discourage you- you CAN increase your scores, you just need to put the time in and make sure you are studying smart. My school has some mini prep classes for only $39 and they helped me tremendously. Don't give up! But know that just re-taking the test probably won't raise your score too much, you gotta figure out where your weak points are and work on them. Practice!
     
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  15. USNADaGOAL

    USNADaGOAL New Member

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    Thanks ^ and will do!
     

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