• Allison Styffe

Preparing for the SAT & ACT

Updated: Jan 15


Gone are the days of needing to spend top dollar on Goliath-sized study books for college entrance exams. But what has replaced them is possibly just as overwhelming — a quick Google search will provide you with dozens of online options to sort through. With so many study tools out there, how do you choose which ones to use? To save you time that's better spent on actually studying for the tests, we're here to share our favorite resources to prep for the SAT and ACT!


Before we talk about study tools for these college admissions tests, we want to quickly acknowledge the question you’re most likely asking right now: “But which one do I take?” This post won’t delve into how to choose, but we encourage you to check out this resource as one tool to help find your answer. And be sure to keep in mind the changes coming to the ACT for 2020, because this may impact your choice to take the ACT versus the SAT, as well as your study plan. Beginning in September 2020, the three main shifts are (1) ACT section retesting will be allowed; (2) ACT superscoring will be supported; and (3) students can take the ACT online and receive faster results. With these exciting changes, students will have the ability to focus with greater energy and intention on their weakest areas and to make more informed and timely decisions about which colleges and scholarships may be their best fit.


Now, back to our original topic...



The SAT


Khan Academy — you’ve likely used it to review concepts taught in class, to study for a midterm, or to simply teach yourself something new. But did you know that it’s also become an excellent resource for SAT prep? Khan Academy and the creators of the SAT have partnered up to create free practice tools, and here are a few things we love about it:


It’s personalized to you.

Get this: Khan Academy will create a tailored practice plan just for you! If you’ve already taken the PSAT or SAT, you can link your College Board account directly to Khan Academy; based on the types of questions you missed, they will create a personalized study plan to help you increase your score. If you haven’t taken the PSAT or SAT yet, simply take one of their diagnostic quizzes to get started.

It’s interactive. There are literally thousands of practice questions, videos, lessons, and hints. Need help with strategy as well as content? There are plenty of study and test-taking tips, too. Along the way, you will get constant feedback so that you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses and know where to focus your study efforts.

It’s done on your time, in your way.

You can access this resource in nearly every format imaginable. While a computer might be the most straightforward option, the Khan Academy app lets you practice on the go using a tablet or phone. If you’re more of a traditionalist, go ahead and print out the resources to jot down notes as you study. Have a couple hours? Hunker down and take one of the eight full-length, official practice tests. Have a couple minutes? Pull up the app and answer a practice question or two.

It can earn you points AND money. Research shows that students who spent 20 hours on Khan Academy saw an average increase of 115 points from the PSAT to the SAT, and the same study showed sixteen thousand students improve their scores by 200 points or more. In addition, if you practice on Khan Academy for 6+ hours, you’ll be eligible for a $1,000 scholarship through College Board’s Opportunity Scholarship program!



Start working toward the best SAT score you can achieve with Khan Academy’s help at satpractice.org



The ACT


We have three free resources to share with you for ACT test prep. Find what works for your individual style, mix and match the products, and you can be sure that your efforts will increase your confidence as well as your scores.


ACT Academy:

The ACT Academy is a varied collection of individualized resources such as games, videos, and other interactive elements designed for your area of need. Based on your initial diagnostics, these tools are tailored to boost your specific skill sets in a scaffolded way — building slowly to increase your knowledge without overwhelming you.


McGraw-Hill Education Practice Plus:

We love Mc-Graw-Hill’s ACT Test Prep because it not only provides two complete online practice tests, there are explanations for every single answer! The problem-solving videos are another fantastic feature, because you see an ACT coach walking you through strategies for every problem type on the ACT.


Prep Factory – ACT:

The Prep Factory offers both SAT and ACT free online test prep, and the reason we recommend it for ACT practice is the focus on working through strategy and skill lessons in small chunks, which students will find especially useful for honing in on that one subject area they need to beef up. If you’re doing an ACT section retake, you know exactly the skills you need to focus on, and this resource allows you to create a personalized study plan and track your progress as you continue through the course. The Prep Factory also has a highly engaging, fun platform full of games and videos and the ability to earn points and challenge yourself.



Have questions about preparing for college entrance exams? Post a comment below or reach out to your College & Career counselor!

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