How Can I Improve My SAT/ACT Score?

How Can I Improve My SAT/ACT Score?Taking the SAT or the ACT has turned into a rite of passage for college-bound high school students. Many colleges and universities put great weight on scores from these standardized tests to determine admissions. For admission to selective colleges, you need to strategize to improve your SAT/ACT score even as a sophomore when the PSAT and the PLAN are first administered.

Take the Practice Tests

Taking the test repeatedly is not guaranteed to improve your SAT/ACT score. Improving your test-taking skills and subject matter knowledge are the two factors that will improve your test performance. Whether you are taking practice tests that are provided by your school, a test preparation center or educational websites, treat these tests as if they were the real deal. The results will indicate your college-readiness and point to areas that you need to focus on to improve your scores.

Focus on Areas that Need Improvement

The structure of the SAT and ACT are different, but areas of difficulty are clustered together. The results of each test will indicate your areas of weakness and strengths. Put in extra effort to study your areas of weakness while still enhancing your knowledge on your areas of strength. Get outside help from a tutor or coach, if needed.

Switch Tests

Most colleges have no test preference as long as you comply with the testing requirements. If you are not doing well on the SAT after several attempts, consider switching to the ACT, or if your ACT scores are middling, take the SAT instead. Improving your performance may be a matter of taking the test that is compatible with your personal strengths.

Practice with a Timer

Both tests are timed. To get a good sense of your capabilities to read, comprehend and analyze questions, use a timer when taking practice tests. Understanding the time factor will help you plan out your test-taking strategies. These strategies may include answering all the easy questions first and making educated guesses by eliminating other choices. It is important for you to take account of how long it takes for you to answer each question.

Budget your Time

When taking standardized tests under time pressure, you cannot afford to obsess over a few questions. To avoid spending too much time on a question or a section, use elimination to exclude outlier answers. Make a guess from the remaining choices and note the question number on your extra sheets. You can go back to review the question with a fresh outlook after you have finished answering the rest of the test section.

Work out the Questions on Paper

Sometimes, creating diagrams or rewriting the question can help you figure out the answer to complicated questions. This applies for math, reading and science-related questions. Use the papers provided to analyze and visualize difficult and convoluted questions.

Understand the Type of Test you are Taking

The ACT and the new version of the SAT will not penalize for wrong answers, so do your best to make good guesses on each question. Answer choices will be limited to four on both the ACT and the SAT, giving you more time to understand each question.

Scoring well on pre-admission standardized tests will increase your chances of getting into your preferred school. Explore various ways to improve your SAT/ACT score, and don’t be afraid to switch from one test to the other to make sure you can show your best performance when applying for college admission.

For more information on SAT/ACT scores, please see: Are SAT/ACT Scores or GPA More Important When Applying to Colleges?