1. Schedule your test well in advance, and try to select a site that is connected to a high school. Sites that are not connected to high schools have less accountability to the students and tend to be more likely to cancel tests at the last moment. Taking the test at your high school is generally best. If your school isn’t a testing center, consider asking the administration why that is.
  2. Make sure to read your emails! The ACT and SAT will both email you occasionally with important information. It might be a reminder to upload your picture (which you can’t take the ACT without). It might be an update to your testing location (so you show up at the right place). It might be the notification to set up your SAT prior to arriving at your test center (you can’t do it once you arrive). Many students ignore these emails and then have big problems on test day.
  3. Have a regular schedule for practice and tutoring. Having a scheduled time in your week to practice or meet with a tutor will provide better results than intermittent or random practice squeezed into any free spot.
  4. Practice like you play. When doing practice at home, make sure you are giving it your all and treating it like test day. Practicing while lounging on the couch, eating a snack, and intermittently texting a friend will be far less effective than sitting at a desk or table, timing yourself, and focusing without interruption.
  5. Practice what you’re good at too. A lot of students make the mistake of only focusing on their weaknesses. It is often easy to improve what you’re already good at, so don’t forget to put effort into each section of your test.
  6. Don’t cut yourself slack. It’s very tempting to ignore small mistakes. “Oh, it was just a silly slip up” is easy to say. Small mistakes lead to wrong answers, just like big mistakes do, so treat a small mistake just as seriously as a big one. Identify why that small mistake happened and work towards eliminating what caused it.
  7. Sleep. High school students generally need over 8 hours of sleep each night. Just because you can exist on less doesn’t mean that is ideal. Best brain function occurs when students are well rested the week or two prior to the test. Start practicing healthy sleep habits today.

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