How to Study for the ACT & SAT

JUNE 11, 2018

The school year is winding down, and summer is in the air. However, for those of you who are college-bound, it is now crunch time. Are those groans we hear? Well, do not fear! Online Campus Colleges has outlined all your question’s on how to study for the ACT and SAT.

When Should You Take the SAT and ACT?

Depends, but many high school juniors choose to take the ACT and SAT in late spring. This is good because if you are not happy with your scores, you can retake either exam in your senior year.

Do SAT and ACT Scores Really Matter In 2018?

  • Yes: For those of you aiming at the Ivy Leagues, stellar scores are a must. Harvard freshmen for instance, boast median SAT scores of 1540 and ACT scores of 32. Meanwhile, Yale freshmen earn a minimum of 1540 on the SAT and 33 on the ACT. That said, it is important you dedicate time on how to properly study for the ACT and SAT so you receive the score your desired college requires.
  • No: If Ivy Leagues are not your style, you may still need to take one of these tests for a local university, or you can opt for test-optional colleges. These colleges include New York University, Smith College, and George Washington University. Be aware, however, that many of these schools require exemplary high school academic transcripts.
  • It Depends: It is 2018, and some colleges are letting students decide whether to submit test scores or omit them. If you are applying to colleges like American University or George Washington University, you have got options.

Can You Really Use FREE Resources to Prepare for Both Exams?

Yes and no. You can use those type of resources up to a point: if your school does not have the latest copies of the official SAT and ACT practice tests, you will want to purchase those. Alternatively, you can enroll in private tutoring. This is a great option because you receive one-on-one help on how to successfully study for the ACT and SAT.
But, if you have got a tight budget, you will find the free resources below extremely useful. Combine them with commercial options to increase your confidence-level (and scores).

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Free ACT & SAT Resources at Your Fingertips

Option 1: Read Quality Online Magazines That Discuss Your School Reading Assignments

Kill two birds with one stone. If you’re studying Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, try the New Yorker’s analysis of the iconic story. Reading Coriolanus? Try the New Yorker’s Notes on Coriolanus.

You only get 4 free articles a month, but it’s a great way to get accustomed to challenging texts.

Option 2: Strengthen Your SAT and ACT Vocabulary Skills with the New York Times
Worried about vocabulary questions? Start preparing in your sophomore year with the New York Times Word of the Day quizzes. The New York Times also links to an article where the word is used. When you’re finished reading, take the one question quiz.

At the New York Times, you get 5 free articles a month and unlimited (free) access to the Word of the Day section.

Option 3: Get Unlimited Practice at Free, Reputable Online Prep Sites

Now that you have decided on your college course, you will want to get down to business. Two of the most popular and reputable online prep sites are the Prep Factory and Khan Academy.

Prep Factory uses interactive and gamification elements to help you prepare for the SAT and ACT. Sign up for free to access videos and practice tests. At your first stop, you will want to try the Pre-quiz #1 (valued at 500 XPs). For a quick overview of what Prep Factory offers, try the site’s YouTube channel. Master everything from ACT quadratic equations to natural science reading passages.

Once you are done, head on over to the Khan Academy. The site has partnered with the College Board to provide free, quality exam prep to students of every socio-economic background. Plus, they detail fully on how to study for the ACT and SAT by their expert team. Sign up for a free account and personalize your course of study. Have your PSAT/NMSQT results imported into your Khan Academy account, and target problem areas for practice. Most importantly, watch Sal solve every SAT and ACT Math problem that is likely to turn up on these exams.

ACT / SAT Websites

What better place to learn more about how to prepare for the ACT and SAT entrance exams than their very own websites! Those practicing for the ACT can obtain test taking tips, read descriptions of the material and subjects to be covered, practice with test sample questions, and browse their downloadable booklet which contains additional practice test questions, a scoring key, test strategy info, and more. ACT also has links to other preparation material opportunities, although some of which are required to be bought, but the they still have plenty of complimentary resources as a great help too.


For the SAT students, the official site offers study guides, study strategy plans and calendars, practice tests, information on what subjects you will be tested on, and a breakdown of the SAT format. Additionally, the SAT site provides a bunch of tips, tricks, strategies, and suggestions on how to study for, and take the entrance exam successfully.


Option 4: Identify Your Problem Areas By Taking Free Practice Tests At The College Board Website
Head on over to the College Board website and take all 8 practice SAT tests. They thoroughly explain how to study for the ACT and SAT, and the zip files you will download contain answer sheets for your convenience. If this is too overwhelming, try the College Board’s free SAT app first: you will practice one question a day until you are ready to do a full practice test.

Option 5: Increase Your Mental Math Skills with Free, Timed Practices

Try FlexMath, where you can practice anything from decimals to algebra topics. Increase your speed in doing mental math (set the timer for 1-5 minutes). Although this site does not specifically prepare you for the no-calculator section on the SAT, it is useful for increasing your mental math skills.

Ready for more college advice on how to study for the ACT and SAT? Visit us at Online Campus Colleges.