February 17th, 2015

Make the most of your SAT/ACT prep at home

shutterstock_114474988Your parents have plunked down the money for prep; you’ve dutifully attended the sessions, and now that the first practice test is ready to be tackled, Remember that your ACT or SAT score will largely be determined by the work you do at home. Beyond conscientiously working to internalize the taught strategies and tactics and adhering strictly to time limits, what else can you do at home to maximize your prep? Try paying attention to your environment.

Study locations: If you usually complete your homework in your room, stick with it. If not, beware because no room contains more distractions. Then again, if you typically complete your homework in front of the TV, you’d better find a different location. Ideally, you want to approximate the test location as closely as possible. This means finding a location with minimal distractions. Avoid spots where people will talk to you, where there is a lot of movement, or even locations that are too quiet. The test room will be quiet but not silent.

Background noise: Research demonstrates that doing any homework with headphones on decreases retention. Yet, background noise has been found to increase students’ focus. Some studies even suggest that certain types of music – Bach, Beethoven, or flowing instrumentals – may increase intelligence and material retention.

Lighting: The test rooms will be well-lit. Turn the lights on if you are knocking those tests off in your room, or if you are in a library or cafe, sit where the lighting is good.

If you want a great score, then give every effort. Find blocks of time that will allow you to complete entire sections, review the tactics and strategies right before practicing, time yourself strictly, and avoid doing work on the bus or in front of the TV. Environment matters!

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