Best ways to prepare for SAT/ACT

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by peppypea, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. peppypea

    peppypea Member

    Feb 2, 2017
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    What are the best resources to prep for the big standardized tests? We are from an absolutely tiny school system- my son will graduate High School in a class of about 60 kids- there are not a ton of opportunities available to us through the school.

    My son is super bright (ranked #2, 4.0 GPA.) Years of go-back-and-check-your-work have not served him well in testing speed- which seems to be part of the testing game. Over the next 6 weeks he needs to make sure that his skills in playing the testing game are up to snuff.

    Thank you for your time and help!
  2. DesertCaliMom

    DesertCaliMom Member

    Feb 6, 2017
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    DS is using CollegeBoard/Khan Academy as it is free. KA takes the PSAT score and tailors study guides to match the student's timetablefor testing.

    If you or your youth are registered with the boy scouts, there is free SAT prep as well.
    AROTC-dad likes this.
  3. laxer98

    laxer98 Member

    Jan 25, 2016
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    I would have your son take a practice test of both, right off the bat, to see which he is more comfortable with.

    SAT Practice Tests:
    ACT Practice Tests:

    After he finds out which of the tests he is more comfortable with, he can start to study and prepare by buying one test prep book and using it to practice his weaknesses as well as gaining stamina to finish the full test. (I was much more comfortable with the ACT and bought the Official ACT Book, which includes real previous tests: It is imperative to finish as many practice tests as possible.

    Test taking is a skill, just like any other, that can be improved upon by practice and hard work. Especially for the ACT, one must learn and utilize the allotted time equally for all questions (PM me for more info about this).

    Best of Luck!
    laxer98 (stats: I received a 34 on the ACT and a 2200 on the SAT)
  4. Love4monsters

    Love4monsters Member

    Apr 29, 2016
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    573 has tons of released tests to practice with. YouTube has videos for strategies. My son needed to read the writing tips but practiced 5-6 exams and was ready. It was the writing! He felt brevity is superior! He has since seen the light.
  5. Dixieland

    Dixieland 5-Year Member

    Mar 10, 2010
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    Welcome to the SA Forums. I noticed you have signed your name to your post and you mentioned your son's name in another. I recommend being more guarded with identifying details since this is a public forum.

    Good luck to your candidate!
  6. desw2

    desw2 Member

    Feb 9, 2017
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  7. Badfinger

    Badfinger Member

    Dec 5, 2016
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    With both of our sons, we took the slow approach. We purchases an SAT study book and had them study for about an hour a week (however it fit their schedule) for the 4-5 months leading up to the class. We also had them do the SAT question of the day. Our oldest took the test in May of his sophomore year and scored a 1450/2090. He did not take it again. He is currently a Freshman at UT, but accepted his appointment for the USAFA Class of 2021 back in November. Our youngest son (Jr in high school) took the test in November of his junior year and scored a 1540 (scoring has changed recently so I really don't know how the two compare...not really important to us).

    Our approach was to not get all stressed out about it, not make them cram for it, take special study classes, etc. I don't think our youngest studied at all the week leading up to it...I recall him playing a lot of tennis actually. And of course, eat a decent breakfast and be well rested. Just tell them to do their best. That has been our mantra their entire academic career. The grades and scores will come if they do their best.
    DesertCaliMom likes this.
  8. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator 10-Year Member Founding Member

    Jul 20, 2006
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    We found with all 3 of our kids that taking the ACT multiple times was the best way to improve their scores. They got better each time because they were more familiar with what was on it and how it was administered. Their final composite scores ranged from 31-34 after taking it at least three times.

  9. Starchaser21

    Starchaser21 Member

    Feb 10, 2017
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    You didn't mention what grade your son is in, but I will assume he is no higher than junior year (since it's a bit late if he's a senior.) I would advise him to take both the ACT and SAT - many people have a preference for one over the other. (I strongly prefer the ACT, but that's just me.) If possible, he should start taking it early, i.e., as soon as he has finished Algebra 2, and take it as many times as is practical.

    It is not a good idea to show up for a standardized test knowing that this is the one chance to "make it or break it" because you waited too long and college applications are due.

    Speaking from personal experience, taking the SAT a second time made my score jump 100 points (no studying involved.) Once you are comfortable with the test, it is easier to manage your time and understand the wording of questions. Taking practice tests should also help with this. Good luck to him! :)
  10. TexasCali

    TexasCali Member

    Jan 6, 2017
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    - Awesome program..has a free trial component
  11. usafa2022

    usafa2022 Member

    Jan 12, 2015
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    I can't speak for the SAT because I've never taken it, but the ACT is mostly just pacing IMO. The material itself probably won't be too difficult because your son has probably seen most of it before in his classes; figuring out how to take the test as efficiently as possible is the challenge, and the only way to do that is to practice. I would recommend buying a prep book with multiple full-length practice tests (I used Peterson's, which has six) and taking as many as you need to feel comfortable with the format and your strategy. This way you wouldn't need to depend on school programs that, as you mentioned, aren't available anyway.