How to Use ACT and SAT Study Guides for Test Prep
With so many available study guides for the ACT and the SAT, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Sure, your study guides contain lots of good information. But how can you remember all of it when it comes time to take your actual test?
Fortunately, you don't have to. The following method will help you internalize all the information your study guides can teach you about taking the tests—and help you apply that information come test day.
To get the most out of them, you'll have to back up just a bit and start with practice tests.
Understand that Study Guides and Practice Tests Serve Different Needs
No one is going to hand you a sheet with the correct answers for your ACT or SAT test. Even if someone could, it's not likely you (or anyone else) could remember them all! But study guides and practice tests help you learn
Practice tests teach you the format, the types of questions (and therefore the types of thinking) that the test involves, and how much time you have for each test.
Your study guides often give you more in the way of “tips and tricks” you can use to approach the test. These guides teach you how to reason out answers when none seem possible; they also teach you to watch out for certain kinds of “traps” that the tests use to fool you into picking the wrong answer.
How Get the Most Out of Your Study Guides by Using them In Conjunction with Practice Tests
You can get the most out of your study guides if you use them in conjunction with your tests. You will need to take at least two (and preferably at least three) practice tests, but you should probably do that anyway.
Take your first practice test without using a study guide. Don't feel bad if the test is confusing—it's designed to feel that way! After you're done, use your study guide to go back over your test (especially the difficult questions).
Study your study guides again before taking your next practice test. In addition, have your study guide(s) right next to you as you take the test, as well as when you review the test.
For your last practice test, read the study guide before hand, but take the test without it. Then, go back over the answers with your study guide in hand.
This actually doesn't take as much time as it may sound like! More importantly, using your study guides this way will help you internalize the tips and tricks they contain, in ways that just reading over them never could.
Why Try this Unusual Method?
The best reason to use your study guides this way is because it works! It gets you comfortable with the type of test(s) you'll be taking, teaches you how to work with tricky problems and “traps”, and does so in a way that won't bore you to death (like trying to memorize a list of test tricks).
You'll be more prepared and more confident when your test day comes around. You'll also be building a much brighter future for yourself. So what's stopping you?