Write an essay where you tell us what test preparation practices work best for you and why.

When it comes to the ACT, the SAT, or any similar standardized test for high school students, I would advise to practice, practice, and practice. I cannot count how many practice tests I have taken for both of these tests as well as for the PSAT, the SAT Subject Tests, and various AP tests. The time I spent this way, however, has certainly paid off, and I have been able to reach many of my goals as far as college admissions and preparation go. While specific test-taking strategies may work well for some, I chose to ignore these entirely and focus all my energy on getting through as many full-length practice tests as possible. By familiarizing myself with the test format, I was able to pick up on subtle patterns in the types of questions asked and the corresponding types of answers that were usually correct. For instance, if the SAT often asks one particular type of reading comprehension question, it generally has the same type of answer for such questions, and so by taking countless SAT practice exams I was able to recognize this. Before each individual test I would spend weeks preparing so that by the time of the exam, I was extremely comfortable with this particular set of questions and answers. The ACT and SAT are actually quite different in many ways, so preparing specifically for whichever was next helped me be ready for each in turn. Many test preparation workbooks will advise students to adopt such practices as reading questions before a passage or answering these questions out of order; while these may be helpful for some students, I found that they take extra time and effort that I could save for the exam content itself. Strategies are designed to save time, but by taking so many practice tests I was able to get in a rhythm; by picking up on question patterns, I was able to answer questions much more quickly, and so time-saving strategies were unnecessary. I simply told myself to work as quickly and straightforwardly as I could.

Parker from Louisiana
High School Senior
The Dunham School