Students are often curious how many practice tests they should take before sitting the actual ACT/SAT exams. Read on to learn about the benefits of taking ACT/SAT practice tests!
We recommend all students start the test preparation process well in advance! To get a real head start, students can begin familiarizing themselves with the test format as early as 8th and 9th grades with the PSAT 8/9 exam. By 10th grade, students should attempt the PSAT/NMSQT. This will not only give them a realistic test-taking experience, but will also enter them into a scholarship contest known as the National Merit Scholarship Program.
So why should you take practice tests before the SAT/ACT? Let’s break it down! Here are some of the many benefits of preparing for these exams.
1. Test-taking skills.
When we refer to “test-taking skills” we aren’t talking about a student’s academic knowledge, but rather how comfortable they are with taking a test itself. Test-taking skills are easy to master, but can yield massive results.
For example, leaving difficult questions until the end (and completing the “easy” ones first) allows students to maximize their scores when working against the clock.
Test-taking skills are absolutely crucial when it comes to both time management during a test and reducing exam stress. When taking practice tests, students will be able to hone these valuable skills without the pressures of a “real” exam!
2. Test familiarity.
Both the ACT and SAT have different formats. Taking a practice test is hands-down the best way to get a feel for each of these tests, their format, and what students will be expected to know and demonstrate on exam day.
Both exams contain multiple sections with a designated time allotment for each, but they also differ in several ways. For example – the ACT has a dedicated science section, whereas the SAT does not.
We recommend students begin by researching the test(s) they plan to take before attempting the actual exams. A practice test is the perfect way to help feel more comfortable with the exam before taking it for real!
3. Identifying challenge areas.
Taking a practice test is an excellent way for students to recognize which sections (or subjects) they need to work on to be as successful as possible on the actual exam. Rather than spending excessive time preparing for the entire exam in great depth, students should focus on the specific areas that could use the most improvement (as indicated by their practice test scores).
Practice tests often provide detailed answer keys specifying different types of questions – problem-solving, reasoning, vocabulary, etc. A trained test-prep tutor can help pinpoint the question categories and specific subject matter that need extra practice before taking the actual exam.
4. Cost efficiency.
Both the SAT and ACT charge students a fee each time they sit the exam. Current rates are listed below:
- SAT Registration Fee: $60 USD (College Board, 2023)
- ACT Registration Fee: $66 USD (ACT Inc, 2023)
- ACT + Writing (Essay) Section Registration Fee: $91 USD (ACT Inc, 2023)
As you can see, repeated attempts on these exams can quickly become a costly investment. The clear benefit of practice tests is being able to “take a shot” at one of these exams without having to worry about the financial costs!
In many cases, taking a practice test “blind” (i.e. with no prior preparation) is a good way for students to establish a baseline score before beginning the test preparation process.
Stay up to date with changes.
Students should be aware that both these tests are subject to change throughout their test preparation journey. As some students have already learned, the SAT is currently in the process of making several changes, many of which have already gone into effect. Check out our blog “The Latest SAT Changes: Everything You Need to Know” for more info!
Many students are also confused about the overall impact of these exams due to some colleges no longer accepting test scores. We recommend students familiarize themselves with current policies and research individual schools they are interested in attending. See “Are SAT/ACT Scores Still Important in 2023?” to learn more!
Both of these exams are subject to changes and it can be tricky for students to stay up to date while balancing their existing academic responsibilities. Students will benefit from working with a test prep tutor who is informed about the latest changes and requirements!
Ready to get started with ACT/SAT Practice Tests?
Now that you know the importance of ACT/SAT practice tests, you’re ready to take one!
Tutor Doctor offers FREE practice exams with live proctors. This will help your student get a feel for the testing environment and the flow of the exam. In addition, we’ll provide a detailed score report that identifies areas of need!