Getting Started - Everything You Need to Start Preparing for the ACT® and SAT®

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As the President and Founder of Method Test Prep, I’ve spent the last twenty years helping parents and students create prep plans for the SAT and ACT. Even though much has changed in this time, a great deal has stayed the same, and parents and students still ask the same questions. When do I take the test? How do I know which test is best for me? Even though it has never been easier to find answers to these questions, there persists a frustrating lack of knowledge about how to get the best possible SAT or ACT score (without having to spend thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours).

My goal here is to provide a summary of important information that will save you hours of searching for test prep facts and advice. The content below will help increase your confidence in your test prep plan.

A good place to start: 7 Things Parents Need to Know About the ACT and SAT. In this article, my colleague Evan Wessler cuts through the noise and clears up a few common misconceptions about the testing process. Once you have a better understanding of these basics, the next step is to create a plan. Oliver Luisi, a Harvard University graduate and master teacher, shares a few thoughts about creating that plan.

For those who want a detailed answer to one of the most common questions we get—should I take the SAT or ACT?—this article will help you make the decision.

And there are always questions surrounding the PSAT. Two of the most common are: What is the format of the PSAT? and Should Sophomores (10th graders) Take the PSAT?

Knowledge is power, and a test prep plan is essential. But just as critical is ensuring that every student develops the right academic habits. We received a great deal of positive feedback on a pair of articles we wrote about achieving academic goals through habit change. The first one focuses on establishing clear goals, making plans to achieve them, and adjusting habits to execute the plans; the second takes a careful look at how time management figures into the process.

Now that you’ve addressed some of your basic test prep questions, have a plan in place, and have committed to a few goals, let’s get into the details of raising your score.

First: no one wants to spend unnecessary time preparing for the SAT and ACT. So how do you spend your time most intelligently?

Second: no student wants to prepare diligently for the SAT or ACT only to make silly, score-damaging errors. Here are some concrete tactics for avoiding careless mistakes.

What about content-specific strategies? On both the SAT and ACT, the math is repetitive and predictable. The same concept can be tested in many different ways; once students recognize this, they start raising their scores. In a strategy-oriented post, we break down a common SAT/ACT math question and show you three smart ways to solve any question like it

Sometimes, the most challenging part of a math problem is setting it up. Here’s an article that helps students understand how to organize their thinking.

Are you more in need of English strategies? Maybe you can improve your understanding of subject-verb agreement. Get into the mind of a tutor and how he thinks through “sentence ordering” questions here.

Or maybe you want to get more comfortable with the ACT Science section. Take a few minutes to learn about the most common ACT science section mistakes. And while you’re at it, see how one common type of ACT science question breaks down.

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