Despite the movement at many colleges to go test optional, most BS/MD programs still require students submit an ACT or SAT score. In deciding how to prepare for the ACT or SAT you first have to determine which test to take. You don’t need both and for most people it is a waste of time to take both. That’s good to know but how do you actually determine which test to take?
Try a paper practice test of the ACT and a paper and/or online practice test of the SAT. You should be able to get paper copies of a practice ACT and practice SAT from your guidance counselor. If not, they are available online as well. Do the practice test on a random Saturday morning and use a timer to only take the amount of time that the actual test will give you. After taking a practice test, look at which test you scored highest on and which test you preferred. Once you have done that, focus your future efforts on that one particular test.
Not sure which test you scored higher on? Look at the concordance tables comparing a score from the ACT test to a score on the SAT test and vice versa.
Get the official test prep book for the test you preferred, either The Official ACT Prep Guide or the Official SAT Study Guide. Get the most recent book available. Read through the book to understand the various techniques to improve your score. But what is most valuable about these books are the old, real tests in the book of each book.
Take one of the practice ACT or SAT tests from the book and when you grade the test, pay particular attention to the questions you get wrong. Try to understand the concept behind the question. What is important to recognize here is that the questions change from test to test but the concepts being tested are the same from test to test. If you find that you are getting more of the questions wrong related to a particular concept, you need to study that concept to better understand it. If you are still struggling to understand the concept, then getting a tutor involved to focus on that particular concept can be a significant help.
When you believe that you have a better understanding of the troublesome concept, take another practice test from the book. And keep repeating the above advice.
There are some great test prep companies out there that we will often refer students to. But, if you are focused, many strong students will do just as well preparing for the tests in the manner described above.