5 Steps to Prepare for Standardized Tests

Feb 6, 2023

Standardized tests, like the ACT and SAT tests, play a key role in high school, as well as college admissions. It can be intimidating to prepare for the ACTs and SATs, but with the right strategy and mindset, you won’t have to worry. Our post today will explain how to prepare for standardized tests in high school, including the ACT and SAT. We’ll talk about creating a study plan, finding test-taking strategies, and managing stress and anxiety.

Step 1: Get Organized

If you’re planning to take the ACTs or SATs in high school, the most important thing you can do is get organized. Preparing and practicing for these standardized tests is crucial, so you should have a clear strategy in mind.

Having a detailed plan will make it much easier to stay on track and keep motivated as you prepare for the test. Make sure you have a place where you can keep track of all your resources, such as books, notes, flashcards, and online materials. By organizing your study materials in this way, you can easily refer to them later.

Step 2: Know What To Expect

When preparing for the ACTs and SATs, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the format of the test and the questions you’ll be asked. Start by researching the test content and structure so you can plan out your study schedule. The SAT has three sections – Math, Reading, and Writing & Language – while the ACT has four sections – Math, Reading, Science, and English. Each test also includes an optional essay. You should also understand the scoring system for each test – the SAT is scored on a 400–1600 point scale and the ACT is scored on a 1–36 point scale. Familiarizing yourself with the test structure and content will help you create a more effective study plan. Additionally, look into any prep courses or materials offered by your school or local community to ensure you have all the resources available to prepare for the tests.

Step 3: Create a Study Schedule

When preparing for the ACTs and SATs, one of the most important things you can do is to create a study schedule. This will help keep you organized, motivated, and focused on your goal of doing well on the tests. Start by looking at the test dates and working backwards. Set smaller goals for yourself leading up to the big day. This can help break up the work into manageable chunks.

Plan out how much time you want to devote each day to studying and what areas you’d like to focus on. Make sure to leave yourself some flexibility, as it is likely that your plan won’t go exactly as planned. Don’t forget to leave time for breaks in between study sessions. Taking regular breaks can help you stay focused and give your mind a rest from the stress of studying.

It’s also important to consider when your peak performance times are and use this knowledge to structure your study schedule accordingly. Are you a morning person or do you prefer to work at night? Are there days or times that you know you won’t be able to focus? Plan around these factors to make sure you can maximize your study time.

Create a study environment that works best for you. Find a place where you can comfortably sit, have access to materials, and have minimal distractions. Create a calendar, use a whiteboard, or even download an app or create an Excel spreadsheet if it helps keep you on track. And don’t forget to reward yourself for completing tasks or meeting goals!

Step 4: Take Practice Tests

Practice tests are an important part of preparing for standardized tests like the ACTs and SATs. They help you to become familiar with the structure and format of the exams, which can make a huge difference on test day. Taking practice tests will also allow you to identify areas of weakness, so you can focus your study efforts on those topics.

There are several ways to take practice tests for the ACTs and SATs. You can find free online practice tests or purchase prep books or courses that include practice tests. You can also take official full-length practice tests, which are available from the College Board and ACT and SAT websites.

When taking practice tests, it is important to do them in a setting that mimics actual testing conditions as closely as possible. Create a quiet space free from distractions, time yourself, and avoid the temptation to look up answers. Doing this will help you better prepare for the real test.

Finally, review the questions you missed or struggled with afterwards. Use your notes and textbooks to understand why you got the answer wrong and how you can improve your understanding of the subject. Doing this will help you increase your scores over time.

Step 5: Take Care of Yourself

Taking practice tests and planning your study schedule requires you to take care of yourself mentally and physically. The importance of regular exercise, eating right, and rest cannot be overstated. 

Studying for tests requires plenty of rest. The night before the test is especially important, so you should get at least 8 hours of sleep. Make sure you don’t stay up too late studying the night before, as this could lead to feeling tired or distracted during the test.

Proper nutrition is also essential for success, and preparing for the ACTs or SATs is no exception. Eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help fuel your brain for studying and give you the energy to focus on the task at hand. It’s also important to stay hydrated during your test prep, so drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Don’t forget to move! Regular physical activity helps to increase circulation and oxygen to the brain, which can improve concentration and problem-solving skills. Exercise can also reduce stress levels, which can be a major factor in standardized testing success. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise a day. You can even take a break from studying by practicing yoga!

By incorporating these healthy habits into your test prep routine, you can maximize your chances of success on the big day.


Good luck! Check out scholarpath.com to help find a pathway of your own.