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3 Ways to Maximize Your Study for the SAT® | ACT®

3 Ways to Maximize Your Study for the SAT | ACT

Taking the SAT or the ACT exam is one of those days in high school you’ll never forget. It’s a big deal.  

It’s not big like We’re having a baby! kind of big or I just won the lottery! kind of big, but it’s still a huge day in your life. 

And the reason is simple… 

If you’re hoping to attend your target college to prepare for your dream career, a high SAT or ACT score is a must. Colleges and universities look at a number of factors when making admissions decisions, but your college readiness scores are at the top of the list. 

That sounds like a lot of pressure, but if you take certain steps in advance, there is nothing to worry about. Proper test prep is all about maximizing your study in order to be confident and ready on test day. Here are three ways to do that:

Set Your Goals and Expectations

You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. That’s why it is very important that you set a goal in test prep. What target are you aiming for? What score do you want to hit? How hard are you willing to work?

Once you know what score you want to hit, you can begin the process of working to meet that expectation. 

In order to set a goal for a target score, identify the colleges and universities you’d like to eventually apply to and see what the average scores were for their most recent freshman classes. This will give you an idea of what score you need to hit to reasonably be considered for admissions.

Setting a goal for your eventual SAT or ACT score is the big goal, but it is not the only expectation you should set for yourself. Establish daily, weekly, and monthly test-prep goals for yourself leading up to the exam. Here are some examples:

My goal is to take three practice tests before the test day. 

I expect to work through ten test-prep questions each day for 60 days to prepare for my test. 

My goal is to start a study group that meets once a week. 

Focus on What You Got Wrong and Why

As you prepare for your test, it is imperative that you know where your academic weaknesses are hiding. This is why practice tests and online learning tools like UWorld are so important. 

You can’t improve if you don’t know what areas of learning need improvement. 

The College Board has practice tests available for you to download. While these are a helpful tool in your comprehensive study plan, you will only be able to see what questions you got wrong, not why you got those questions wrong.

So, you should take your test prep one step further… 

To be thoroughly prepared for your SAT or ACT exam, utilize a practice tool that will give you a detailed explanation for each of your wrong answers. This will give you the “what” and the “why.” 

What did I miss? + Why did I miss it? = I won’t make that mistake again!

When it comes to test prep, explanations are king. They are the key to learning as you study in order to eliminate any weak areas.

Choose Accountability

Preparing for your high-stakes exam is a challenge, so don’t do it alone. Ask a friend, mentor, or family member to help hold you accountable. 

A text asking, “Hey, did you do those 10 practice questions each day this week?” or a DM reminding you, “Don’t forget. You said if you don’t study for at least 30 minutes today, you owe me a coke!” — these are great motivators. 

That being said… 

No one can take the test for you. Study partners and mentors are great, but you should also choose to hold yourself accountable. After all, you are the one who will ultimately benefit from hitting your dream score. You can do this in a few different ways:

  1. Put together a daily study plan and follow it closely
  2. Set reminders on your phone to alert you when it’s time to study
  3. Do some initial research on colleges you consider dream schools 

Set goals and expectations. Focus on what you got wrong and why. Stay accountable. Your future self will thank you for it.


When it comes to online test prep, UWorld is the SAT and ACT product students are raving about. With unparalleled answer explanations, UWorld teaches test content in a way that is concise and unforgettable. Our content experts know the tests inside and out, and we will have you ready and confident on test day. Check us out and sign up for your FREE trial today.