In any standardized test, the most crucial thing to manage is your time. If done correctly, you will feel at ease and in control when giving the test, instead of feeling rushed and anxious. And keeping time anxiety at bay is critical to achieving your target score.

This article majorly highlights why taking these standardized tests is important and some pro tips on how you can manage your time effectively when taking these tests.

Simply put, the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a standardized test used in the United States for college admissions. 

This test is designed to assess your readiness for college and consists of two main sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. This set is administered by the College Board, a non-profit organization, and typically, is taken by high school students during their junior or senior year.
Many colleges and universities in the US require applicants to submit their SAT scores as part of the admissions process, and the maximum possible score on the SAT is 1600.

The ACT (American College Testing) is another standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. Just like the SAT, the ACT is designed to evaluate your readiness for college. It consists of four main sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.
The ACT is accepted by most colleges in the US, and students may choose to take both the SAT and ACT to maximize their options. The maximum possible score on the ACT is 36.

Now, let’s look at why taking these tests is important.

While these tests are important for a plethora of reasons, some of the key reasons why you should consider taking these standardized tests are :

  1. College Admissions: Most colleges in the US would require you to submit either SAT or ACT scores as part of their application process. These tests are a great platform for you to demonstrate your academic abilities and enhance your college application.
  1. Scholarship Opportunities: A high score on the SAT or ACT may make you eligible for various scholarships offered by organizations, colleges, or private foundations. These scholarships help lower the cost of tuition and other educational expenses.
  1. Comparison with Peers: SAT and ACT offer a standardized way to compare your academic performance with other students. Your scores allow colleges to set a comparison point with other applicants and can serve as a benchmark for evaluating your academic strengths.
  1. Self-Assessment: Preparing for and taking the SAT or ACT may help you gauge your knowledge in core academic areas such as reading, writing, math, and science. This also helps you identify areas where you might need to improve and guide your study plans to enhance your academic skills.
  1. College Placement: When it comes to college admissions, some institutes consider SAT or ACT scores for course placement purposes. Your scores might determine whether you need to take remedial classes or if you can enroll in more advanced coursework.

Here are 5 tips from the CollegEnroll team that will help you manage your time when sitting for the SAT or ACT.

1. Familiarize yourself with the sections

They say that knowing is half the battle, and that is certainly true when prepping for any test. Regardless of the standardized test you are taking, familiarize yourself with the different sections and how many questions, as well as the type of questions, each section has.

2. Don’t hesitate to skip questions

Skipping questions is not a sin – you can always come back to any question at a later time. If you’re spending too long on one question, without making headway, you’re probably missing out on other questions later in the test that you may certainly have the right answer to.
Make sure you answer the following question after you have skipped a line on the bubble sheet.

3. Pick and stick to your methods

There is no shortage of advice on how to tackle the SAT or ACT best. However, not all of these methods are going to suit you and will only end up losing you time.

Do you prefer reading the questions first followed by the articles, then that is what you should do. Prefer to fill in the bubbles as you go instead of circling the answers and filling in the bubbles at the end? That’s fine because there’s nothing stopping you from filling the bubbles as you go. Pick the methods that you are most comfortable with and stick with them on test day.

4. Leave some time to return to the questions you initially skipped

Once you have answered the easy questions, it’s time to tackle the difficult ones. These questions might require substantial time for you to think, strategize and organize your answer so as to gain maximum points on each question.
So remember to factor in enough time to return to skipped questions. Try to make your most educated guess for the questions you’re partly confident about, and simply pick an option on questions where you’re completely lost. Sometimes, a fluke might just be the correct answer! 

5. Plan your Reading Comprehension and Essay Writing strategy in advance

For reading comprehension, remember to underline key sentences and note the main idea of each paragraph. While it may initially seem like a waste of time, it will ultimately be beneficial. For instance: If a question asks you to detail a particular point, you’ll know exactly where to look, if you have taken notes initially, thereby ensuring you don’t have to re-read the passage.
Similarly, you’ll have about 25 minutes to complete the first draft of your essay writing. But that does not mean you jump directly in to write your essay! It’s best to take a moment, brainstorm , frame the structure of your essay and then put your writer’s hat on.
This ensures you have a fair idea of the framework of your essay and you would simply need to eyeball it later. Having these strategies in the test prep phase will prepare you to ace your competitive exams with ease. 

6. Practice

Last, but hardly least, remember that there is no substitute for practice. Take as many practice exams as you can to figure out where you are losing time and which sections are time-friendly. The exercise will also reinforce your familiarity with the test and a pacing style that suits you best.

When appearing for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, it’s important to remember that they are part-marathon and part-sprint. Finding your own cadence across the time that is available to you will ensure not only that you can answer as many questions as possible but also that you are not stressed out while taking the actual test.

We wish you the best!

How many hours should I study to prepare for the SAT or ACT?

The number of hours required to prepare for the SAT or ACT varies with each individual and is completely dependent on their study schedule. While there is no set number of hours that you need to fix, an average of 10+ hours of daily study can help you maintain a decent score. If you wish to increase your score, you can increase the number of hours you need to dedicate to your study.

Is SAT time pressured?

Yes, this is a timed test. In the reading section of SAT, one has to attempt 52 questions in 65 minutes, which is around 75 seconds per question without accounting for the time spent reading the passage.