Guide to Awesome Test Prep: Practice on Paper (And Online!)

Taking full length practice tests on paper is a crucial step in preparing for the SAT and ACT. Here are some extra tips for taking practice tests to help you get the most out of your prep.
Crystal Nikish's avatar by Crystal Nikish, PrepMe Student Advisor. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in English and a minor in Education Theory and Policy. Her favorite food is chocolate.

Now that you've done all the prep work and created your study schedule, it's time to just get to it: studying! It should be easy to follow your study schedule, especially if it's nice and detailed. But you'll also want to make sure you get a feel for the test as a whole. That's where practice tests come in. Here's how to make sure you get the most out of your practice test sessions:


Plan on taking your first full-length test at about halfway through your study schedule. Don't worry about timing yourself just yet, but plan on taking another full test about once a week up until the actual day. If you can't find time to take several timed tests, you'll want to make sure to squeeze in at least one practice test the week before your test date. That way, it'll be fresh in your memory.

Tip: Don't study the day before your exam. Cramming will only hurt your brain and your score.



There are a lot of free practice tests out there, but you want to make sure you're studying from the official sources: the College Board or ACT Inc. Some prep companies write their own tests and make them easier so that it looks like you're improving. You can find official practice tests in The Official SAT Study Guide and The Real ACT Prep Guide, or on the test-makers' websites.

Tip: PrepMe offers 3 official online practice tests and comes with the prep book for your course.



It's not fun, but try to make a practice test session as realistic as possible. Wake up early, take the test on a Saturday morning, fill in the bubble sheets, time yourself, and make sure to complete the whole thing in one sitting. That way, you can get a feel for how the testing situation can drain you, mentally and physically, so that you can prepare yourself ahead of time.

Tip: This is a good opportunity to make sure you know how to work your calculator fully.



The point of taking practice tests is so that you can get an idea of how you'll do on the real thing. So after you complete one, make sure to look at your wrong answers and read up on the explanations so that you won't make the same mistake again. You should update your strengths and weaknesses skill profile after every practice test that you take.

Tip: Mark down questions that you're just guessing on, and read those explanations also.


Taking full-length, timed practice tests is crucial to becoming comfortable with the real test, but it's definitely time-consuming to grade them all on your own! With PrepMe, you take the tests straight from the official prep books, which are included for free with your course, then just enter your answers online and all the work is done for you. You automatically get your score and can read all of your wrong answers, and PrepMe will also adjust your study schedule to re-focus on new strengths and weaknesses. Then once you take a few practice tests, you'll be ready to move on to Step 6: Twice is Nice for Increasing Your Score.

filed under Test Prep, Guide to Awesome Test Prep
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