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Practical Tips for SAT and ACT Success - English, Reading Comprehension and Writing

As a Language Arts tutor helping students prepare for and improve their scores on high-stakes tests such as the ACT and SAT, there are a strategies, study methods, tricks, and of course, loads of practice that I prescribe.

Oftentimes, a student who's perfectly capable of getting a good score on these tests may lose out on precious points because of seemingly trivial oversights.

Below are a few easy-to-implement steps that can safeguard a student's best score from being needlessly lowered:

- Be regular in putting in study time. erratic and sporadic bursts of studying, followed by a lull, cause you to 'unlearn' important strategies that you may have picked up in the course of your studies. Put in regular hours of study to ensure that all the skills you learn are reinforced and become second nature to you.

- Box it: loose sheets of paper, vocabulary words scribbled on random notepads, and textbooks strewn everywhere - having your study materials in constant disarray is not a good idea. Go to the store and buy yourself a big plastic box with a lid. Put all your ACT/SAT-related materials in this box, and nowhere else.

- In continuation of the above tip, please designate a small-sized notebook as your 'vocabulary bank'. During the course of your Critical Reading and English practice, you will regularly come across words and terms that you don't understand, and need to look up in a dictionary. Maintain a list of all these words, along with their meanings and a couple of example sentences that help you understand the meaning in context. This helps immensely in grasping and retaining the meanings of new words, and revising them prior to the actual exam.

- In the initial stages of your SAT and ACT preparation, don't bother too much with time limits. Focus on minimizing incorrect answers, and even more importantly, arriving at the correct answers for the correct reasons. If you happen to get most questions right a few times because you were plain lucky, the same may not happen on the test. Once your fundamentals are strong, you can start timing yourself as you go through the passages.

- Friendly Tutoring: If possible, get together with a couple of friends and do tests together. You could do the entire exam in one sitting when you feel ready for it, or attack certain sections in each sitting. Discuss why each of you opted for a particular option , and defend your choices. Then, check your answers and grade each other. Studying this way takes away some of the monotony that sets in if you study alone, and brainstorming answers together can really sharpen your reasoning skills.

- Read a book. or two. There's nothing better than reading well-written books to hone your own writing skills. When you read, high-quality stuff you subconsciously assimilate good sentence structure, higher order vocabulary, and become a more creative thinker - all of these attributes are needed to perform well on the language-related sections of the ACT and SAT.

In conclusion, there is a need to be consistent, creative, and conscientious in your endeavors.

Comments

Excellent advise, Chhavi. I would highlight the next to last paragraph. There is nothing that pays off for students as well as consistently reading well-written books.