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Making Friends with the SAT (or ACT)

spring sights FFC April 23 2010 015Did you ever have an honest yet tactless friend, a well-meaning pal who loudly points out the spinach in your teeth and eagerly agrees that Yup, those pants do make your rear end look huge?

The SAT (or ACT) is that sort of friend, a supplier of  not-always-flattering truths.  Those scores are a reality bite, and although many students are dismayed, I don’t think they are usually surprised.

I suggest that students view their SAT or ACT results as a wake-up call, a spotlight shining onto the skills they ought to finally get a handle on.

Too many students drag their weak academic areas around with them like a ball and chain, trying to ignore them, too frightened and confused to know how to fix them.

And most students experience an enormous sense of relief and empowerment when they improve in a skill that’s been holding them back.

So make NOW be the time you make a dent in that weak vocabulary…or improve those critical reading skills…or brush up those shaky math concepts.

One great thing about these standardized tests? Some focused work in a specific area, done consistently between now and the next test, can make a noticeable and satisfying difference. I suggest you select one or two areas you need to improve on and concentrate on those.

And, here are some great free resources you can take advantage of:

  • The SAT website gives some good information and tips on how to improve your scores, plus a free full-length online practice test.
  • Here’s a link to many good videos containing specific advice on how to handle many kinds of SAT and ACT questions.
  • Khan Academy has a ton of helpful test prep and math help videos and exercises.
  • I’ve created this simple calendar/checklist to help students stay on track with their daily SAT/ACT practice. Print a copy and hang it in a prominent location (refrigerator door, bathroom mirror, etc) so that family members will all look for those check marks and help reinforce daily practice.
  • Visit my website for other free resources and ideas.
[signs of spring: daffodils and college entrance exams]
Making Friends with the SAT (or ACT)

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS is an educator, counselor, writer and speaker. She's been a tutor, test prep coach and home school teacher for over thirty years. Click HERE to visit Leigh's website and to subscribe to her newsletter, "Learning Something New."

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APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2013). Making Friends with the SAT (or ACT). Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 4 Apr 2013
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