Juniors: For testing, get to know the basics

"Have a plan and never go into a test cold; always know the basics." -- Natalie Bitton, college counselor at Lycee Francais La Perouse in San Francisco

Juniors, with the ACT and SAT upcoming, here are some suggestions for getting to know the basics:

Read through the instructions (available on the SAT (College Board)and ACT websites) so you don't waste time the day of the test figuring out what the "No Change" response means on the ACT English section or how the SAT math section "grid-ins" work.

Refresh your knowledge on subjects where it's been a while since you've studied them, such as geometry. Take some practice tests under actual test conditions. Free practice tests are available here on the ACT website and here on the College Board website.

Scope out the location where you will be testing so you're not late. 

And know what you need to bring -- as well as what isn't allowed at the test center.  Snacks are a good idea; your iPod needs to be left at home. Pay special attention to the ID requirements for admission, which have changed. All this information is available here on the SAT website and here on the ACT website.


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


As a test prep tutor, wearing a watch can be the most important piece of advice I give to students. They do not want to be dependent on a proctor or clock in the room, so they must learn how to manage their own time. They need to learn how to pace themselves in order to do their best on the SAT and ACT

College Direction
Denver, Colorado

Wonderful to see that someone else is advising students not to go into the test cold. My clients occasionally seem perplexed when I urge them to complete a practice test (timed!) prior to the real thing. Sometimes the practice tests reveal a preference or strength in either the ACT or the SAT, and the student abandons the idea of taking both "just to see how I do".

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