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How to Prepare for the SAT and the ACT

As you get ready to apply to college and start getting organized with everything you need for the college application process, getting ready for the standardized tests is an important part of the process. Whether you choose to take the SAT or the ACT, preparation is critical to getting the highest score you can -- a score that can play a large part in the decision of whether or not you are accepted at the school of your choice. Let's take a look at the steps to getting prepared for the SAT or the ACT.

Enroll in College Preparatory Courses

It's tempting to wait until the last minute to start preparing for the ACT and SAT, but in truth, you should be preparing throughout your high school career. Be sure to enroll in advanced courses if you can. These courses provide the skills and knowledge you'll need to excel on the SAT and ACT, and students enrolled in advanced placement courses tend to score higher than others on the standardized tests.

Practice the SAT and the ACT

One of the best ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT is to practice, practice, practice. Starting as early as your freshman year, start taking practice tests that will help you prepare for the actual test. Find free online test questions and test previews at:


You can also get access to one free test along with practice questions and tips at:



Set a Study Schedule for the SAT or the ACT - and Stick With It!

You'll be far more disciplined in taking practice tests and drilling yourself with test questions if you set a study schedule. Make a plan to study for the tests at least once or twice a week in the two or three months leading up to the tests. To make it more fun and social, consider starting an SAT or ACT study group with other friends who plan to take the test around the same time as you.


Decide Which Test to Take: the SAT or the ACT, or Both

By your junior year, make a decision about whether to take the SAT, the ACT, or both tests. If the schools you are interested in attending prefer one or the other, certainly take that test. If they will accept either test, then which one you choose is a matter of your preference. Need help deciding? Read our article about how to choose between the SAT or the ACT.

Set a Date and Register to Take the SAT and/or the ACT

When you know which test you plan to take, get online and get registered. In some areas, popular testing dates will fill up, so register early to give you a clear deadline to set your sights (and your practice test schedule) on. You can choose a testing date and site and register for the SAT or ACT at:


Good luck!


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