May 2

Tips for taking the ACT and SAT

The ACT and the SAT are both important to the college decision making process. Use these tips when you take the test!

Before you apply for college, you must take either the ACT or SAT, as most schools require at least one of them. The tests are similar because they are trying to access the knowledge you currently possess, which will help determine how likely you are to succeed at a college. Below are some tips to help you do the best you can on the ACT or SAT.


The ACT is the leading comprehensive test in the country, and the majority of colleges use it for admission purposes. Some students might be intimidated by the ACT, but there’s nothing to worry about, especially if you do some preparations beforehand. Free practice tests are also available online, like this one. Try to do as much test prep as possible, relying on the strategies obtained from preparations is key to receiving a high ACT score. Other general tips include using the process of elimination to determine the most logical answer and staying calm during test time.

English Section Tips

-Pick the most concise answer: All the correct answers in the English section are meant to be the most straightforward and typically have logical sentence structure.

-Read the paragraph first: Looking at the paragraph before trying to answer the questions will give you the appropriate context for your decisions and leave you with a better understanding of the sentence structure, allowing you to get a better idea of whether you should revise or not.

Math Section Tips

-Pay attention to the diagrams: Diagrams will give you many clues as to which answer is most likely to be correct.

-Put the answers back into the initial questions: Plugging in answers is the best way to determine if you chose the correct one.

Reading Section Tips

-Start with your strengths: Four readings are used in this section: fiction, social science, humanities and natural sciences. Start with the subject you have the strongest feeling about and go from there. This will help with time management as well.

-Do a little skimming: Read through the questions first, then read the prompt. This will help with staying under the time constraint and give you an adequate idea of what to notice.

Science Section Tips

-Tackle the conflicting viewpoints section last: Most people find this section the most difficult, so it’s best to get the easier, quicker questions out of the way first.

-Rely on graphs and other visuals offered: They will provide helpful clues when answering the questions.



The SAT is also used to assess students’ preparedness for college. However, the SAT differs from the ACT in the way scores are calculated. Only one answer is correct for each question of the ACT, so the key is to use process of elimination to determine the most logical answer. Although questions may seem subjective, that is not the case. Be sure to double check answers and save the difficult questions for last. Practice tests can be found here. Using practice tests to your advantage is key to receiving a high test score. Finally, learn from what you miss on the practice tests and truly understand the correct answer because you might see some variation of it again.

Reading Section Tips

-Pay attention to connotation and context: Determine if the word is positive or negative. Also, be on the lookout for contrast words like “however” or “rather than” to help you decide the right answer.

-Use evidence questions to your advantage: It will become clear which of the two choices is correct because only one of the answers will have something related to the direct evidence.

Math Section Tips

-Focus on the weak spots: Filling the gaps between what you do and don’t know is crucial.

-Memorize formulas: Being able to remember and reference key formulas will help you do better on the test.

Writing Section Tips

-Know Grammar Rules: This one might sound simple, but make sure you know the ins and outs of grammar.

-Analyze first, write second: Use the evidence given to understand what is going on, then begin writing and formulating your thoughts into words.

Apply these tips when preparing for and taking the ACT or SAT. You are more than capable to handle these tests. Good luck!

If you’ve already taken your ACT or SAT, consider applying to South College. Reach out to our Admissions Department today.

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