Students test out study methods for SAT, ACT


Test prep books are among the many ways students are preparing for the ACT/SAT.

On April 9, VHHS juniors will be taking the state-mandated SAT, and many juniors are now in the midst of studying for the big test. Because of the importance of student performance on these tests, students often study for SAT and ACT exams well in advance. The preparation for standardized tests can be overwhelming, especially when considering their importance to a college application.

Since there’s no single studying technique that is effective for everybody, students are finding out which test preparation method works well for them.

“There are some students who focus on Khan Academy because it’s a free resource, but it’s still customizable based on how they’ve done on PSAT or other SAT scores,” Ms. Bellito, college counselor, said. “There are some students who have taken group courses for test prep or maybe done some private tutoring sessions, and so it really is all over the place.”

Tutoring programs are one way students are studying for tests. Some students attend group classes, and some have personal tutors for each of the subjects on the ACT/SAT.

“I did a three-session class over the summer, and now I have a tutor. My experience in preparing for the ACT is similar to most students. I know many people who also have tutors,” Kelsey Gramins (11) said.

Nicole Lim (12) suggests that juniors do some sort of tutoring for their SAT/ACT prep.

“It’s better to have someone who can answer any of your questions instantly. The tutors should also have prior experience with the exams, so they can provide you with useful advice,” Lim said.

However, tutoring can be expensive and a huge time commitment. For example, at Huntington Learning Center, a common place students go for standardized testing prep, 14 hours of SAT/ACT prep costs about $1,220 per subject.

An alternative to meeting with a tutor or being in a class is using a test preparation book to prepare. An average test preparation book costs about $20 and includes many full-length practice tests. These books also have essential strategies to help students pace themselves and guess logically.

“I have only really used a prep book to prepare, but I do know multiple people who have tutors. I have never gotten real tutoring for the ACT; I just time myself with practice tests,” Caden Tran (11) said.

Students must also balance studying with the stress and pressure they feel while preparing for standardized tests.

“I feel like everyone thinks they have to strive for perfection…. I feel colleges put more of an emphasis on testing now than ever before, so this makes it even more stressful,” Gramins said.