It’s never too early to start studying for the SAT and ACT! Sophomores (and even freshman) who are looking to get a jump on test prep can certainly get started as underclassmen. It’s wise to leave The Official SAT Study Guide and The Official ACT Prep Guide on the shelf until your junior year, but there are plenty of practice opportunities to help you fine tune the skills tested on the ACT and SAT.
Read, Read, Read
When I was a sophomore in college, my Humanities class required 3 books and a course pack. The course pack was a 300 page collection of photocopied articles that my professor selected for us to read. Great. So not only did I have to buy a humanities textbook and two non-fiction page-turners (one on schizophrenia in Ireland in the 1800s and another on the gender roles of the Inuit in Alaska), but also a packet of photocopied articles whose contents all mimicked the mind-numbing passages on the ACT and SAT.
That’s right. College is just one big ACT or SAT reading passage. It doesn’t matter if you’re studying to be a doctor or a teacher or an accountant. You are going to read about exciting things like the life cycle of an amoeba and the history of the wagon and the cultural comparisons between Star Trek colonies and aboriginal Australians. This is why the ACT and SAT passages are so difficult! They are there to weed out those who cannot survive the giant course packs of college.
So start reading difficult, dry text now, to prep you both for the tests and for college. We recommend some source material in our Free Help Area. As you read, concentrate on the author’s main ideas and his or her attitude toward the subject. Aim to read two or three articles a week to firm up reading skills and get you familiar with the heavy subject matter on admissions tests.
Complete the Question of the Day
Both the College Board and the ACT offer a free Question of the Day. You can subscribe to the SAT Question of the Day through the SAT app and the ACT Question of the Day through ACT’s website . The questions come from all test subject areas and come with full explanations. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to the exams and to the types of questions and content tested.
Check out a Practice Test
If you’ve never seen a real SAT or ACT, check out the free official tests available on our website and take a test under timed conditions. Your resulting score will indicate just how much you need to study over the next year or two.
Start Learning Vocabulary Now
Both the ACT and the SAT use what the Common Core gurus calls “Tier II Vocabulary Words” which is a fancy way of classifying common academic words. Tier II Words include terms such as pretense, refute, undermine, and profound. They aren’t overly difficult, but they are often unfamiliar to or unused by the average high school student. So it may benefit you to start studying them in your sophomore year. Most test prep experts recommend not dedicating too much time to them when you really start studying in your junior year. Our ACT and SAT Reading Bible has a list of 300 Tier II Words that have frequently appeared on past tests. While a perfect vocabulary is not necessary for a perfect score on the ACT or SAT, the more words you learn, the easier the test is.
So, if you’re a freshman or sophomore in high school, start your studies early! You may thank yourself later for it.