Tried-and-True Strategies to Feel Confident for the ACT® or SAT®

Oh the ACT and the SAT ... Whichever one is coming up, there are some tried and true strategies that they should use to do their best come test day! These simple tips will help your teen tackle test day with confidence!

Know the Instructions Before You Go

It's important to know what to expect for each section before test day, so you won’t waste time reading them during the exam. SAT® instructions can be found at and the ACT instructions at

Use Process of Elimination.

If you are having some difficulty with a question, use process of elimination to get rid of any answer choices that you feel cannot possibly be correct and make a guess from the remaining answers. If you can eliminate at least two incorrect answers, you generally increase the probability of guessing correctly.

Never Leave An Answer Blank ... and Keep Going!

For both the SAT and ACT, there is no penalty for wrong answers. Since points are not deducted for incorrect answers, you should answer every question. And again, because there is no penalty for a wrong answer, there is no reason why you should spend too much time on a challenging question. If you are unsure of a question, circle it, make a guess, mark your answer and quickly move on.

Mark it up.

As your work, mark up questions to help you focus on key parts of the questions or eliminate answer choices. This can easily be done on a paper test or using annotation tools on a digital test. Marking up the test will not only improve your comprehension and concentration on the day of your test, but it will also help you with the following:

  • Improving understanding of a test question
  • Breaking down the important parts of reading passages or text
  • Concentration and focus on the day of your test
  • Effective time management while working through each test section

Stay Positive!

The tests have a mix of easier and more difficult questions, and they appear in a mixed order. Just because one question is hard does not mean the next one will also be hard. The next one could be easy!

End Each Section by Reviewing.

If time permits, revisit the difficult questions for further evaluation.

Teen Studying at Home for Test Prep
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6 General SAT or ACT Prep Tips

While the following tips may seem simple, they are very important things to keep in mind the night before and day of the SAT or ACT.

1. Check calculator batteries the night before the test. Replace batteries that are more than a month old.

2. Prepare a “Go Bag” that includes the following items:

  • Several sharpened No. 2 pencils
  • Calculator
  • Any related paperwork
  • ID
  • Water and a snack
  • A watch to keep pace and monitor time during the test

3. Eat a good dinner the night before and a good breakfast the day of the test.

4. Get a good night’s sleep.

5. Arrive early. Get to the test center with time to spare.

  • For the SAT, arrive no later than 7:45 a.m., unless the admission ticket says otherwise. The doors to the testing room close about 8 a.m. and testing starts between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.
  • For the ACT, students should arrive by 8 a.m. Testing will begin after all students are checked in.

6. Breathe. You've got this!

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