April 11, 2019

Is It Better to Self-Study for the ACT/SAT or Get a Tutor?

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There are so many ACT/SAT prep options that it can be hard to know which one is right for you.  Tutors, SAT/ACT practice question websites, online ACT/SAT study tips, and even news articles offer loads of advice on how to earn the perfect score on your test.

Fortunately, preparing for the ACT or SAT isn't as complex as it may initially seem.  Although students who have difficulty completing practice tests in key areas such as math and English may need to hire a tutor in order to learn basic concepts, many students are able to self-study and still earn a high score.  If you do well on standardized tests, are comfortable with the study material, and only need to work on improving in a few areas, then you can save the money you would have spent on a tutor and follow the tips below to earn a high score.

Know What to Expect

Getting familiar with the test you plan to take will help you make the best possible study plan.  Here's a basic overview of both the SAT and the ACT.

The SAT is made up of two sections: Math and Critical Reading & Writing.  The math section is divided into two sub-sections, one which allows for use of a calculator and one which does not.  There is also an optional essay.  There is a total of 154 questions, and you have three hours to complete the test.

The ACT is made up of four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. A fifth section, Writing, is optional.  Unlike the SAT, the ACT allows test-takers to use a calculator for the entire math section.  There is a total of 215 questions, and you have three hours to complete the test.

Make a Realistic Plan

It's important to make time to study so you can learn everything you need to know before the big day.  This may mean that you'll need to give up some free time or a hobby in order to prepare for your test.  However, it doesn't mean that you have to study for long hours every single day.  Knowing what you need to focus on will help you prepare, even if you don't have as much study time as you'd like.

Both tests require good reading comprehension skills, so it's a wise idea to practice reading long, non-fiction articles and then analyzing them to determine what the author's point of view is and what message he or she is trying to convey.  Practicing reading different types of graphs is also important, as both tests use a variety of visuals such as bar graphs, line graphs, quadratic functions, and scatter plots to convey information.

ACT recommends looking up which types of calculators are allowed in the test room.  You should then familiarize yourself with the calculator you intend to use during the test.  It's also wise to do practice tests with a timer so you get used to answering questions both quickly and accurately.

SAT test-takers should be prepared to answer plenty of inference questions.  These questions require you to analyze the reading material to find an answer that isn't directly stated. 

Choose the Right Resources

Self-study ACT and SAT students need a reliable, easy-to-use ACT or SAT test prep program to help them master difficult subjects and track their progress.  That's why many students opt to use UWorld's ACT/SAT study program and practice tests to get ahead in their studies. 

Your SAT and ACT scores have a big impact on which college or university you'll gain acceptance to.  However, that doesn't mean you have to spend long hours studying or invest in a private tutor.  With dedication, hard work, a smart study plan, and the right materials, you can ace either test and earn the score you need to make your educational dreams come true.

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