SAT and ACT Strategy

Designing a Highly Effective SAT or ACT Strategy

Your test-taking strategy includes which test to take, when to take it and the amount of preparation you will require.

In addition to your grade point average, your ACT or SAT scores will be very important for your college admission outcome. For most schools, a combination of your scores and your GPA will determine whether or not your application is denied or considered further. This makes it highly important for you to develop and implement an effective strategy for either your ACT or your SAT. It’s in your best interest to attain the highest score possible, making planning and preparation key factors. Since not all students learn in the same way, a strategy that works for another student may not be the one that works the best for you. One-on-one tutoring is best for seeing improvement in confidence and higher scores.

Working with You on Your ACT or SAT Test Strategy

Going Ivy works with students from all academic backgrounds from across the Phoenix metropolitan area. We have students who have great grades but aren’t comfortable with standardized tests, and also students who have aced the tests back in junior high. Our private tutors and educational counselors have attended the top colleges in the nation, and we understand how to help you prepare for your ACT or SAT. One key factor is assessing your learning style and deciding which test might be a better choice for you. We can then work with you to improve your scores through one-on-one counseling and practice sessions.

Going Ivy does not recommend trying to study and prepare your best for both the ACT and SAT. These tests each play to different strengths. Generally, the ACT aligns more closely to what you are learning in high school. If you excel in school, the ACT might be a better choice for you. However, it may be easier to gain improvements on the SAT because it has sections that for many are easier to learn. When you are working to develop your test-taking strategy, you will want to determine which test to take, when to take it and the amount of preparation you will require.

All of these things must also be balanced with your normal classwork and your extracurricular activities, which means starting early with a strategy and practice. Going Ivy can help you to figure out the answers to all of the questions that you might have about your most effective approach to your college admissions tests.

You should take a long view with these tests, taking at least one practice exam by your sophomore year so that you can gain some familiarity with the material, format and endurance involved with taking long standardized tests. When you take practice exams far in advance, you’ll be better able to assess your test preparation needs and schedule your real exams for the right time. Remember, the tests are only offered six or seven times a year in Phoenix. Understanding exactly how important the test is may be crucial to your ultimate success on it. Many students make the mistake of viewing the tests as more of a sprint rather than the marathons that they are, and this mistake may be to your detriment.

Choose the Test That Fits You Better

Colleges and universities accept both tests, and they do not care which test you take. This frees you to choose the test that works better for you. The tests differ substantially in their time limits, content, scoring and format. Going Ivy can familiarize you with how these tests are similar and different to each other and offer practice tests for each at our Phoenix headquarters or wherever is convenient for you. You’ll experience test-like conditions and differences in timing and breaks within each exam. This may help you to decide how your strengths may be better used. For example, the ACT test contains a science subtest while the SAT does not. If you have difficulty with scientific reasoning, opting for the SAT might be a better choice for you.

When you choose which test is better suited to you, you can then get matched with our tutors for focused, one-on-one help. Our strategies for the tests are customized, based on what areas you need help with, not preset for large masses of students. Going Ivy counselors have worked with students with ADD, ADHD and other learning disabilities. We can help you request special accommodations, including extended time limits.

Set Your Goals

Your practice test scores will be your baseline. You’ll want to figure out what target scores are reasonable for you. If you want to get into Ivy League schools, you should aim for scoring slightly higher than the median scores for their accepted applicants. Yale states that the score ranges for its admitted students ranged from 32 to 35 for the 25th to the 75th percentiles. The school also lists its score ranges for the SAT-critical reading as 710 to 800, for the SAT-math as 710 to 790 and for the SAT-writing as 720 to 800. No matter what school you are targeting, you can find information about their score ranges on their websites, allowing you to set goals for yourself.

Establishing Your Test Prep Timeline

You will want to give yourself plenty of time to improve your scores in the areas in which you are weakest. Often, a month is not enough preparation time. Before your actual test, you should try to take as many different practice tests as possible under test-taking, timed conditions so that you can check for improvements. If you try to cram a ton of practice tests into a short period of time, you may burn out. It is also important to spread out your practice tests so that you are improving and learning without interfering with your class work. Try to implement a timeline that offers you at least three months to practice and prepare. Giving yourself adequate time can pay dividends in your ultimate score.

When you plan ahead, choose the right test and prepare, you may be able to attain the score that you need for your dream school. The experts at Going Ivy can help you to identify your individual needs and work to help you with obtaining the scores that you want. Contact us today for more information about the services that we offer to help you get into the school of your dreams.

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