Tips for Preparing for the ACT or SAT

student studying in a libraryAre you getting ready to take the ACT or SAT before applying to college?  Don’t stress out – there are a lot of things that you can do to prepare well for these tests!  Taking standardized tests like the ACT or SAT can seem a little scary, but the more you are prepared, the less nervous you’ll be (and the better you’ll do on the tests!).  Start preparing to take the ACT or SAT as early as possible, so that you can achieve the high score that you deserve!  Usually, it is recommended that you start studying for the these tests the summer after your sophomore year in high school  Here are a couple of tips to help you get ready to ace these tests:

  1. Practice Writing Essays: The new SAT format includes a persuasive writing section, where you will need to select one side of an issue and give examples to support your argument.  You will need to rely on your writing skills and the real examples that you give to help you form a strong essay.  Practice writing essays where you defend an issue completely.  The best outline form for these essays is with five paragraphs: the first paragraph should be your introduction, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th paragraphs should each discuss one of your examples to support your argument, and the 5th paragraph should be your conclusion.  The organization and clear format of your essay is very important.  You will have 25 minutes during the actual test, so time yourself as you practice at home.  Make sure that your practice essays don’t discuss the other side of the issue – this could make you appear too wishy-washy and unsure of your own standpoint.  Remember – the more you practice this section, the easier and better it will get!
  2. Math tips: While preparing for the ACT or SAT, it is a good idea to go over your math vocabulary.  Words like integer, absolute value, congruent, mode, and prime number often can appear on these kinds of standardized tests.  Also, practice using the FOIL method while forming quadratic equations.  FOIL stands for “first, outer, inner, last,” and it describes the method that you take while forming quadratic equations.  It also is a good idea to be familiar with simple fraction-to-decimal conversions (0.75 = _ = 75%).  Although you can use your calculator, being aware of these simple conversions can help you to save time while taking this portion of the test.
  3. Reading tips: One of the best ways that you can prepare for standardized tests like the ACT or SAT is by memorizing vocabulary words.  The Princeton Review’s Hit Parade has a list of the frequently tested vocabulary words, and we’ve listed a couple of them here for you: abstract, aesthetic, alleviate, ambivalent, apathetic, auspicious, benevolent, candor, comprehensive, diligent, dubious, eclectic, egregious, exculpate, florid, gratuitous, hackneyed, idealize, impartial, imperious, inherent, innovative, inveterate, laudatory, maverick, mollify, novel, obdurate, ornate, ostentatious, paramount, penitent, pervasive, plausible, prosaic, quandary, rancorous, spurious, stoic, superfluous, tenuous, timorous, transitory, vindicated.
    One of the best ways to study vocabulary words is by making flashcards.  Also, another tip is to try and use these vocabulary words in your every day conversation – that will help you to remember the words better.
  4. Study and Practice! It is important that you study as much as possible for the ACT and SAT.  There are also SAT and ACT prep classes that are offered through different prep companies, such as The Princeton Review.  You also could check with your high school, to see if any prep classes will be offered after school.  Other helpful ACT and SAT study guides can also be bought at bookstores or checked out from your library.  Not only to these guides have helpful tips, but they also have practice tests that you can take before the big test day!  These guides are updated often, so that you can read about the current information that will be on your test!

How to Make School More Serious, Less Social

Young people ready for educationAre you so busy chatting with friends during classes that you forget to listen to the teacher?  Are you more concerned about getting a date to prom than passing chemistry?  If so, then school might be more of a social event for you than something serious.  This could be a big problem, especially if you’re planning on going to college after graduation.  College application reviews can get an idea if a person was serious about school by merely looking at the kinds of classes that the person took and the grades that they received.  If you want to change and make school more serious and less social, there are a couple of things that you can do!  It’s never too late to change and make school a meaningful educational experience.  Here are a couple of ways that you can get started down the path of being a serious student:
First of all, make sure that you don’t sit near your friends when you are in class.  This way, you won’t be tempted to chat with your friends instead of writing down what’s on the chalkboard!  Put away your cellphone too, so you won’t think about texting your crush while your teacher is talking!  Instead, listen to what the teacher is saying.  Take notes in class, and ask questions when you don’t understand something.  If you still need help, go in after class and see if your teacher can give you some tutoring.
Another thing that you can do to become more serious about school is to take classes which are academically challenging.  Don’t fill up your whole schedule taking electives – take an honors or AP class instead!  Even if you don’t need to take an AP or honors class to fulfill your graduation requirements, it’s not a bad idea to take it in place of an elective.  Or, if there is a subject that you really are interested in, take an extra class in that subject!  By opting to take a more serious, challenging, interesting class, you are setting yourself up to be more serious-minded about school!
The next thing that you can do to make school more serious and less social is to STUDY!  The idea of studying may sound lame and boring at first, but when you begin to get serious about the things you are learning, you may find out that some things are interesting and rewarding.  The first step to studying is by doing your homework assignments daily.  Keep on top of the work load that your teacher gives you, so that you can understand the new concepts and ideas that are introduced in class.
Besides doing homework, another thing that you need to do is study for upcoming tests and quizzes.  If you need to memorize concepts or ideas, try and make flashcards to help you memorize.  It’s best to start making flashcards while you’re doing your regular homework, way before the test date, so that you’re not trying to cram in info the night before the exam!  You can carry flashcards around with you to different places, so you can study while you’re waiting for the bus, watching TV, or babysitting.
Another thing that you can do to make school more serious and less social is to set priorities in your life.  If you really want to make school more serious, then you’re going to have to give up some socializing time.  As not fun as it may be, you might need to give up some trips to the mall or some late-night phone chats with your BFF.  Try to get all of your homework and studying done first, and then go hang out with friends afterwards!  If you follow these helpful hints, you’ll be able to be more serious about school and get everything that you can out of your education!