Tips and Tricks to Standardized Testing


Benjamin Amat, Staff Writer

For many juniors in high school, the fall semester marks the first steps in their college journey. For many people, the first step is to take either the SAT or the ACT.

Although many colleges do not require scores from standardized testing, it is still useful to take these tests and submit your scores. Any score submitted to a college will make you stand out more, and perhaps put you above other students who did not submit a test score. The SAT and the ACT are extremely important to many colleges, even if they do not require your test scores. Therefore, it is important to score the best you can on these tests. Hopefully, with these tips and tricks, you can start to score higher.

Test yourself with practice tests

One of the most important things when studying for the SAT or the ACT is to actually practice doing the test itself. An important fact to know, is that the SAT and the ACT test you on how to take those tests, rather than the bulk knowledge that you have in your brain. If you know how to navigate the tests, you will have a higher likelihood of scoring higher. Many websites, most notably, Khan Academy, has several practice tests that will give you your raw score of the test, and show you how to do common problems on the SAT. For the ACT, the ACT website has practice tests that you can take. Knowing what types of problems are going to show up on these tests is key to having confidence entering the classroom for your test.

Sort out your time management

One of the most common problems when taking standardized tests is people running out of time. In my own experience, I have had several incidents where I only have 1 minute left, but 5 more questions to go! I then go fill in all Cs for the final 5 answers, and I pray. This example shows that it is important to know how you should pace yourself when taking the test, and doing practice tests will help you get a natural rhythm going. It is also not against the rules to bring a watch to the test, and I say it is a must have when taking the test.

Set up a study plan

Setting up a plan weeks before your test is crucial to having confidence when taking the test. Devoting yourself to a daily routine enables you to not fall into the trap of being “rusty” when taking the actual test. Having a daily routine also spreads out the amount of studying you have to do, and therefore takes less of a toll on your mental health. Speaking of mental health…

Pay attention to your mental health

A common problem when taking the SAT is that people often get too anxious about taking the test itself. Many people do not know how to regulate their nerves when taking the test, which leads to problems such as taking too much time on a problem or forgetting how to do a problem. Making sure you take many practice tests ensures that you will have a confident mind going into the test. Another common problem is people tossing their mental health aside preparing to take a standardized test. Burning yourself out with studying will not help you in the testing room, and in fact hurt your chances at a good score. Going into the test with a tired, overanxious mind is the last thing you would want when taking the test. Pay attention to your current needs. If you feel that you need a night or two off from studying, take the night or two off.

Adjust your sleeping schedule

It is common that many people enter into the testing room on only 4-5 hours of sleep. Having a tired body and mind will definitely ruin your chances at a high score on the test. It is optimal to spend the last two weeks leading up to the test on a regular, 8 hours of sleep a night schedule. A common misconception is that as long as you get 8 hours of sleep the night before the test, you will be fine the next day. In reality, you need several days of 8 hours of sleep to make you well rested for the test.

Taking the SAT or ACT is an important part of your journey into college education. It is important to know that while even though getting a good score is important, it does not define who you are. Therefore, do not stress out over taking  these tests. It is much better to have a happy and relaxed life leading up to taking the test than having a stress filled life. Just do your best!