(StatePoint) From brushing up on interview skills to honing the perfect essay, the college admissions process seems to become more complicated every year.
While students in the past may have prepared for one standardized admissions test, now some experts now advise taking both the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Test (ACT).
“The ACT may have once played second fiddle to the SAT. But the test is gaining momentum and popularity with college admissions officers,” says Chris Arp, a tutor at Veritas Tutors and Test Prep and author of “Up Your Score ACT,” a new test-prep study guide.
While the SAT was designed to judge a student’s ability to reason, the ACT was designed to determine a student’s knowledge of the basic high school curriculum.
Arp, who wrote “Up Your Score ACT” in conjunction with three students with perfect ACT scores, offers these tips to test-takers:
• Take a practice test of both the SAT and the ACT, timed, in a setting that allows you to concentrate for three-plus hours. If you score much higher on one, then take that test. If the scores are similar, Arp says to consider this: “Which test made you want to pull out a smaller percentage of your hair?”
• Make a manageable schedule, breaking preparation into chunks. But remember, the actual test is long, so building endurance is crucial. Ramp up your practice sessions until you can take the whole test in one sitting.
• Practice makes perfect. Take several practice tests at home and learn from both your successes and mistakes. Remember, you can take the ACT up to 12 times if you need to. And unlike the SAT, you can choose which scores are sent to colleges.
• “When it comes to math, don’t sell yourself short,” says Arp. “Saying you don’t understand math is a cop-out. If you can’t solve a math problem, it’s because you have either forgotten or never learned the concepts involved.”
• On the reading section of college entrance exams, check your outside knowledge at the door. You are being tested on what a passage says, not on what you already know.
• Picking your battles can help you make the most of your limited time. For example, in the case of the ACT’s Science Reasoning Test, glancing at a passage before you dive into it can help you decide whether you want to spend time on it now or later.
• To avoid post-test stress, don’t discuss the answers with your friends. Instead, take a few days to relax and have fun.
Both the SAT and ACT are accepted by every college in America. So if you’re stressed out by the SAT, do yourself a favor and consider taking a different route.
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