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The Oft-Ignored Way to Higher SAT and ACT Scores

This blog is written by Evan Wessler from Method Test Prep (SAT and ACT Test prep partner for Stoodnt)

PREPPING

Students are always looking for a surefire way to raise their SAT and ACT scores. They take courses, work with tutors, watch instructional videos online, and complete lots of practice problems. But too few students do one thing that is absolutely essential to raising their scores: take full, simulated practice exams.

WE GET IT, BUT HERE’S THE THING

Taking practice tests is time-consuming. It’s boring. The exams are tough to schedule with all the other things high school juniors have going on. These are the primary reasons students avoid practice exams. And still, we at Method Test Prep are adamant: students must find the time to take full-length practice tests.

Why? We’re glad you asked. Here are the top three reasons.

Half the battle is stamina. Anyone who has taken the SAT or ACT knows both tests are a slog: they both involve three to four hours of wracking one’s brain across multiple subject areas. It’s a basic fact that brains––especially adolescent brains––get tired. Students should treat the SAT and ACT as the mental equivalents of their athletic practices; the only way to succeed in a race or in a game is to prepare beforehand so the real thing doesn’t seem unusually taxing. Students who don’t take practice exams simply aren’t prepared, and tend to mentally collapse midway through the test.

Timing is absolutely key. When students practice with other modes of prep, they often ignore the exam sections’ time restrictions. They show “progress” on practice problems, only to take the real thing and fail to see their apparent gains reflected in their scores. This is because they’ve made a crucial mistake in separating the problems from the timing. The content of the SAT and ACT is, in fact, inseparable from the time provided to deal with it. By forcing students to perform within the constraints of timed sections, practice exams give students a realistic idea of the pace they need to achieve to finish most or all of each section. When and if they have trouble finishing sections, students can use their practice test experiences to intelligently strategize ways to move more quickly and be more productive in the allotted time.

Pressure relief. There’s no experience that can completely simulate the unique stress students feel while taking the SAT or ACT on test day. Practice tests, however, do come close. Students who take practice exams grow accustomed to knowing the test is “coming”, to receiving results, and to taking a step back to calm their nerves. Without these experiences, students are more likely to panic during the real test, and less likely to recover quickly. This can seriously jeopardize their scores.
HOW METHOD TEST PREP CAN HELP

Built into our self-paced SAT and ACT programs are two full-length practice exams that students can take. If your school subscribes or you subscribe individually to the program, the exams are at your disposal. If you are a school administrator, teacher, or counselor, consider our school practice test service to provide your students with the experience they need to maximize their scores.

About Author Ajay Singh

I graduated from I.I.T India and came to U.S. for higher studies in Engineering 20 years back. After working for a few years in Austin, Texas as a design engineer, I went back for a M.B.A at Harvard Business School. I have worked for number of global companies in senior leadership and management positions. Over the years I have advised number of students on college admission.

Author: Ajay Singh

Ajay is the co-founder of Stoodnt and spent 20+ years in senior leadership roles with companies such as American Express, Cendant and Intel prior to starting Stoodnt. He has a M.B.A. from Harvard, M.S. in Computer Engineering from U.T. Austin and B.Tech from I.I.T Roorkee (India).

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