8 Things Adult Students Need to Know About ACT and SAT Test Prep

You're ready for a change. Perhaps the time you've invested at your current job has proved less fruitful than you originally hoped. Maybe your interests have changed, or you need to earn more money. No matter what your circumstances are, you know you want to go back to school for a new (or your first) degree.

Preparing for the big leap back to school can be daunting, especially since so many things have changed since you were younger. This is especially true when dealing with test prep (the ACT or SAT). The eight suggestions below can help you navigate the world of test prep, and help you decide which test to take so you can build your career.

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Know Which Test You Need to Take


The ACT has gained in popularity over the years, and the SAT is undergoing major changes. Before you sign up for either one, make sure your scores will be accepted at the colleges you’re applying to. You certainly don't want to take the ACT and then find out the SAT was the required test for your school! If you can't find the information on your school's website, call or make an appointment with a counselor.

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See If Your Previous Scores Are Available and Valid


The ACT and SAT organizations keep most scores going back several years, so if you don't have a record of your previous score, contact the test company for a copy. If you're in your 30s, or older, your test score at 17 is probably not the best gauge of your present-day brainpower, so you can, and probably should, retake the test. ACT scores, for example, are valid for only five years.

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Know the Testing Deadlines for Your School of Choice


You can rush your score report for a fee, but it's best to make sure that your scores will be sent to the colleges of your choice with plenty of time to spare. There's nothing worse than trying to rush your test (and studying time) in the hopes that it gets to colleges in time. Why add to your stress?

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Register Early

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Make sure you know where the test center is. Many ACT and SAT tests are administered at community colleges. Then, register early, giving yourself plenty of time to study, and giving the testing company plenty of time to get your scores to your college. It's relatively simple these days to register for the ACT or SAT thanks to online processing.

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Study, Study, Study

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There are more options than ever before to help you prep, including multiple online study courses, books, and interactive CDs. They’re only good if you use them, though, so be smart about your spare time, and make sure you devote the energy necessary to get the score you want. If you’re having a difficult time with one section, be sure to focus on that, but don’t neglect what you’re good at. Study, study, study!

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Know When the Tests Are Due to Change

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The ACT and SAT have remained pretty much the same over the years, but there are frequent minor, and infrequent major, changes to them that you need to be aware of. For example, in 2016, the SAT is undergoing its biggest changes ever (no losing points for getting questions wrong, multiple definitions of words on the test, etc.). It’s important that you study for the test you will be given. Make sure your study materials are up to date. You don’t want to prep with an old study guide for the new 2016 test!

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Use All the Resources Available

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You might be surprised to find that your college of choice offers resources unique to you as an adult returning to school. Many of these resources include test prep since colleges are aware that your circumstances are far different from those of a new high school grad.

There’s also the possibility of utilizing open source classes, especially if you’ve not used algebra or written an essay in years. Some of the top universities in the world, like MIT and Yale, offer non-credit virtual classes for free. Some require registration, while others are readily available online via sites like YouTube.

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Remember Your Strengths

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Perhaps you majored in English because you loved to read as a kid, but you’re going back to school for an accounting degree because you’ve picked up a ton of math experience in the workplace and found you love it. Those reading and writing skills are still there, if not a bit rusty. Oil them up and get those mental gears working again, and you can do great in both comprehension and math. No matter your strengths and weaknesses, smart studying can make a huge difference in your final score.

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Your Citation
Hickey, Ryan, managing editor of Peterson's and EssayEdge. "8 Things Adult Students Need to Know About ACT and SAT Test Prep." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/things-to-know-about-act-sat-31039. Hickey, Ryan, managing editor of Peterson's and EssayEdge. (2021, February 16). 8 Things Adult Students Need to Know About ACT and SAT Test Prep. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/things-to-know-about-act-sat-31039 Hickey, Ryan, managing editor of Peterson's and EssayEdge. "8 Things Adult Students Need to Know About ACT and SAT Test Prep." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/things-to-know-about-act-sat-31039 (accessed August 4, 2021).

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