How to study for the ACT/SAT without a tutor
- Use the right test prep materials. There are many free resources that students can use to prepare for the ACT/SAT. I recommend starting with the official resources from the ACT and the College Board (the organization that administers the SAT). To practice foundational math and grammar skills, it can be helpful to use supplemental materials, but the official materials align closest with what a student will actually see on the ACT/SAT.
Understand every single mistake you make. Mistakes generally fall into one of four categories:
- Concept gaps
- Misread question/directions
- Careless errors
As you complete more practice problems, look out for your common mistakes. Ask:
- Did I answer what this question is really asking?
- Do I need to convert between units in the answer?
- Am I better off guessing rather than sinking more time into the question?
- Do timed practice to replicate testing conditions as best you can.
- Take breaks. Your brain needs rest to process and store information in long term memory.
- Use flashcards to memorize vocabulary and grammar rules. Read more about the benefits of flashcards and spacing out learning (rather than cramming) here.
- Practice skills until you completely master them.
- Get help -- from friends, family, or online forums -- on the skills that are the most difficult for you.