How to Do Your Best on College Admission Tests
Learn a few tips and tricks on taking the ACT and SAT exams.
College admissions tests are, well, part of life if you want to go to college. The ACT or SAT are the standards when it comes to getting into college. Depending on where you want to go to school, you’ll probably have to take one or both. So what can you do to get the best results on these exams? Keep reading to find out.
- Read the instructions – One of the biggest reasons people lose points on tests is by not following the directions for each section. Take practice exams to learn what is expected from different sections so you don’t waste time during the actual test.
- Take your time – Yes, the exam is timed, but that doesn’t mean it’s a race. Take your time, think things through before you answer.
- Answer what you know – Part of rationing your time is answering what you know first. Just because the questions are listed one way doesn’t mean you have to answer them that way. Speed through the ones you’re sure of to get more time on the ones you need to think about.
- Eliminate wrong answers – Once you’ve cleared out what you’re sure of, go back through the questions you haven’t answered. Cross out answers you know are wrong. You might be able to reverse engineer the correct answer by determining what answers are clearly wrong.
- Use the test book – Obviously, you’re going to use the test book. But really USE it. Make notes, cross out answers, and do scratch math where you need to. Once you’re done with it, the book goes in the recycling bin (hopefully).
- Stay in one place – It may be beneficial to mark your answers in the test book and then transfer them to the answer sheet at the end. If you budget your time properly, you’ll have plenty of time left. Cutting out flipping between the two will buy you some extra time. You’ll also stay more organized if you’re skipping questions. Nothing would be worse than being off by one or two bubbles.
- Guess – There is no penalty for wrong answers (anymore). However, there is a penalty for unanswered questions.
Taking a few practice tests is a great way to learn the exam and form the skills needed to do well. Pacing is the one thing that is difficult to get right since college admissions tests are unique.
Other things to remember:
- Keep your answer sheet clean and free of stray marks.
- There is only one right answer.
- Bring a watch.
- Leave your phone behind.
The main thing to understand is that most colleges aren’t looking at test scores alone for admissions. Test scores can help you with scholarships and placement into honors classes, or in some cases test out of certain classes altogether.
You may also be able to get out of them by first attending a local two-year or community college that doesn’t require admissions tests, then transferring to a four-year school.
Ultimately, admissions tests are just a part of getting into college. They are about as important as sending in the application fee most of the time. You have to do it, but it shouldn’t break you to do it.
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