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As you head toward the SAT or ACT, you’re probably being inundated with information about essays, test sections, and question types. There’s plenty of great advice out there, but don’t let these three easy steps for improved performance slip past you as you head for the tough stuff

  1. Know how your test is scored. The most important difference between the SAT and the SAT Literature Subject Test is the “penalty fee” for wrong answers that only one of those tests charges. (Psst. It’s the subject test!) Know whether you should be avoiding tough questions that might cost you points or guessing at everything to grab a couple of “free” questions.
  2. Drop that phone (in your pacing drills!) Don’t get us wrong; there’s good help available by phone, including apps like the College Board’s Daily Practice SAT and ACT’s ACT Online Prep. However, when you’re practicing your pace, put your phone away. It may seem helpful to set a countdown timer as you begin a practice passage or section, but that’s not how you’ll be tracking time on the test. Use the watch you’ll bring to the test.
  3. Keep it real. When you complete full practice tests, take them the way the SAT or ACT will really be administered. Don’t stop for lunch; don’t give yourself extra time; don’t skip the essay. Eliminate distractions like television or music, but include some of the little annoyances that testing rooms always have: a noisy clock, a kid with a sniffly cold, people moving around in nearby hallways. A public reading room at a library is a good place to practice tuning out the world as you keep yourself on pace and on track.
The Compass Team

Compass is one of the world's leading providers of in-home and online, live one-on-one tutoring for high school students aspiring to attend selective colleges.

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