By Julia Wasson

As you start preparing for college entrance exams, you might be wondering about the effectiveness of ACT and SAT test prep services. Test prep takes time and costs money. You want to ensure your investment in test prep isn’t spent on only reviewing what you've already learned in the classroom.

PSAT/SAT and ACT prep courses help develop strategy, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. The best test prep strategies are designed to teach students skills that are useful not only on the test, but also in adapting to the level of critical thinking involved in college academics and many career paths.

So what should you expect from a well-organized and thoughtful ACT or PSAT/SAT test prep program?

Consider the following test prep skills you could be learning with the right program:

  • Specific strategies for each individual subtest
    Each section of the PSAT/SAT or ACT test requires you to apply knowledge in different ways. Studying for exams with the appropriate problem-solving strategies in mind is incredibly beneficial on test day. Rather than clever tricks for “gaming the test,” the critical thinking skills taught by a high-quality program will be applicable to collegiate academic work as well. Examples include close-reading techniques for the reading test, strategies for writing a compelling essay in limited time, and story-problem strategies for the math test.
  • Tips for how to lessen test anxiety
    Excessive test anxiety can be debilitating, and it affects many students’ ability to perform to their highest potential on test day. Effective ACT PSAT/SAT prep courses help students by reducing the stress of college entrance exams. One way they accomplish this is by providing ample exposure to the content and format of authentic practice tests. Students taking an effective test prep program should experience an increase in confidence and a decrease in text anxiety.
  • Ways to identify any weaknesses with practice tests
    PSAT/SAT or ACT practice tests are most beneficial when used as a diagnostic tool. Such tests can help you identify strengths and weaknesses and focus study time specifically on areas in which you're likely to see the greatest improvement.
  • How to manage time wisely during test administration
    When you have a plan, you save time - and time is a vital factor during college entrance exams. When taking practice tests, you benefit greatly by learning how to navigate time-intensive test sections like a pro. Some testing strategies are based specifically on time management. Students who learn to effectively apply these strategies can raise their scores without learning more content.

The best test prep services understand that no two students learn alike or have the same areas of weakness. That’s why a personalized approach to your college test prep will set you up for success on college entrance exams.

Preparing for college entrance exams is important, as the right test prep strategies have been proven to improve scores. ACT or PSAT/SAT test scores directly impact acceptance to most colleges and universities. In addition, high exam scores (along with a strong GPA) increase your eligibility for a wide-range of college scholarships.

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