Test Prep for SAT/ ACT
How Much Test Prep?
There is not an easy answer since goals, testing baselines, and colleges' emphasis on scores all vary widely. When deciding, families should consider:
- test score ranges for colleges on a student's list
- baseline established by PSAT results
- other elements of a student's application
- student schedules
- student tolerance of test prep (please take this seriously--for some students, the test prep would be onerous and stress-inducing)
- scholarship considerations at particular schools
At minimum, students should have enough familiarity with the test so that they know:
- sections on the exam
- length & format of each section
- types of questions in each section
- scope of math section
- type of passages in the reading & writing sections
- expectations on the essay portion.
When to do Test Prep?
Again, the answer to this depends on the student and how particular the college goals are. All Shorewood sophomores take the PSAT and so have a baseline established.
A few motivated students do a bit of test prep throughout high school.
Some motivated sophomores do test prep the summer before junior year as they anticipate the PSAT in the fall and SAT/ ACT exams in the winter & spring.
Many juniors do the Shorewood SAT Prep class in fall or spring and then take the SAT/ ACT in winter and/or spring. Note: The PTSA is not offering a fall 2018 class, and may or may not offer a spring 2019 class.
Options for Test Prep
There are excellent low-or no-cost options available. Familiarity with format and content is a first step, and if a student has limited time, may be enough.
FREE Check out an SAT or ACT book from the Career Center given to us by our generous Shorewood PTSA. Come into the Career Center to inquire. The books will be checked out just like a book from Shorewood's main library.
FREE and PAID options Official College Board (SAT) and ACT practice questions and tests. The testing companies have free materials available that essentially tell you what is going to be on the test and give you a chance to practice with actual test questions.
SAT Practice has links to official practice tests, a daily practice app, and the Khan Academy as well as sections with guidance for setting goals and creating study plans.
ACT Test Overview and ACT Test Preparation have both free and paid options. Start with the current ACT Study Guide (pdf) which includes a practice test and overview, sign up for ACT Question of the Day, use the practice for each test section, read the tips, and go over the test section descriptions. Once you use exhaust the free options, consider the paid products & services. ACT now has a partnership with Kaplan.
FREE Khan Academy, which is now linked to the College Board, customizes to a student's most recent score results (PSAT and/or SAT) and is available whenever the student is available. Please note that though Khan Academy is affiliated with the College Board/ SAT, the benefit will largely carry over to the ACT. We recommend this option since it customizes to you.
We cannot recommend particular tutors, but if students have a particular subject area they want to address, tutoring can be an excellent approach.
Outside Test Prep Companies. There are many local test prep companies. Regarding the list below, please note:
- We cannot endorse or recommend any of these companies in particular.
- This information is a starting point for your own research.
- Information is subject to change.
- Very few companies list costs on their website. Be aware that most require you to create an account and then you will receive e-mails, often multiple ones. E-mails may have useful special offers, or emails may become excessive.
- Many online courses also have local centers that offer classes.
- Many companies offer some free options and other options with costs.
- Many companies also offer private tutoring, at higher cost.
Free Online Test Prep
The following resources are listed as a courtesy to the community. Listing does not comprise endorsement.