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The Student News Site of Olympia High School

The Oracle

The Student News Site of Olympia High School

The Oracle

Conquering the Exam: Your Ultimate Guide to SAT/ACT Prep
“Exam” by albertogp123 is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Everyone knows that the college admissions process can be anxiety-inducing, and one of the most overwhelming parts of this process is standardized testing. However, with ample preparation and a few helpful tricks, taking standardized college admissions tests like the American College Test (ACT) and the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) can be a painless process. In fact, the testing process can be summarized in just 5 steps. 

Step #1- Choose your weapon.. Or exam

While you aren’t required to take both the SAT and ACT to get into a college, based on current student trends, I recommend taking both tests at least once if possible. This is how many students and parents decide to begin the college prep process.

“I have a paid college planning service and they recommended I prepare and take the SAT based on my skills and knowledge,” senior Gianna Grossman said when asked what she did to prepare for her exam.

By determining which test you are more skilled at, you’ll have the ability to narrow down your focus and therefore better your score.

Step #2- Find a test date for your exam of choice

The perfect test date really comes down to scheduling and planning. When choosing an exam date, consider things like how much time you’ll need to prepare, how packed your schedule is, and how many times you plan to take the test. 

There are typically 7 exam dates for both the SAT and ACT. The ACT dates are usually in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July of each year. While in the United States, the SAT is given in March, May, June, August, October, November, and December. If you haven’t already, check the registration dates to see what date would be the best fit for you. Finding a test date early will not only be relieving but will also allow you 3 to 6 months of sufficient prep time.

Step #3- Develop a target score

While developing a target score for the SAT and ACT is mostly more about your ability to reach said score, it is still important to look at what prospective colleges want from you. Using the College Board’s BigFuture site, you can search for any college and view the average SAT and ACT scores of its accepted students.

It’s not enough to say “I need a 1450 to go to my favorite school” because there are other factors, however being able to reach that high standard is very beneficial in the acceptance process. Simply give your favorite colleges a quick look.

Step #4- Study, study, study…

None of the steps above are as important as actually studying for the ACT and SAT. Some habits you should create when prepping include taking practice tests, creating study schedules, and trying to implement testing strategies within your study sessions

Khan Academy is a great free resource to use when prepping as they have a full module dedicated to the SAT. If that’s not for you, there are many books on the subject, private tutors, and in-person prep courses.

Step #5- After your exam, repeat the process a few times

The SAT and ACT tests are essentially the same content, so you’ll only need a month or so to refresh on test-specific content. Preparing early and sticking to a study plan can help you go into the exam with the confidence you need to succeed.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Taliaferro
Olivia Taliaferro is a junior staff member of The Oracle. She is captain of the varsity golf team at Olympia, VP of leadership for the National Charity League, Director of Community Outreach for the Vegan Club, and an FCA Officer. In her free time, Olivia enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing golf, painting, traveling, and shopping.
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