Juniors: Taking the ACT or SAT? Practice, practice, practice...

The winter testing dates for the ACT and SAT are coming up soon:  the SAT will be administered on January 26th and the ACT on February 9th. For many students, practice can improve scores. But if you're listening to your iPod or not taking a timed practice test, you probably won't experience that improvement. Here's how to practice so it means something:

                Practice under actual test conditions. Both tests require students to perform in a fixed amount of time. Sit down in your kitchen with a test book and your No. 2 pencils and have a family member time you.

                Make sure you practice with real tests. The test services call these materials "disclosed" tests -- actual ACT and SAT tests from prior dates. Such tests are available free from the College Board and ACT, Inc. online and in the registration books. If you use a guide from the bookstore or local library, make sure it contains "disclosed" tests.

                Timing matters. Preparation is more effective closer to the test date so right now is perfect timing. Don't wait for the days right before you walk into the test center.

For more information on testing, including how colleges view standardized testing, how to create a testing plan, and more, sees Chapter 7, "Testing," in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step. And find additional free test prep resources here on our website.

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