October is the month of Halloween… and test prep.

But test prep doesn’t have to be all that scary as long as you follow our list of scary good test-taking tips.

For those of you taking the ACT ® or SAT ® tests in just a few weeks, here are some quick tricks that can help you unwrap the sweetest treat: the score you need to get into the college of your dreams.

Several Months Before the Test

1. Plan Ahead

11th graders should plan to take two ACT tests and two SAT tests. You may not need to take the test all four times, but it’s best to save the later test dates for second or third attempts.

The tests are only offered during certain months of the year — and they have early registration deadlines — so plan out when you’ll take each test.

P.S.: Our KD Planning Seminar is a progress evaluation that lays out the whole testing journey and steps toward your test score goals. Don’t miss it!

2. Prepare

If you want to reach your best score, it’s important to prepare.

The material found on college admissions tests is based off of a wide range of material that you should have learned while you were in high school. Since many high school teachers tend to create their own curriculum, there is no guarantee that you effectively learned all the test content while in the classroom.

Even if your teachers did cover all the subject areas by the time you take the test in 11th grade, maybe you didn’t spend enough time on a particular topic. As a result, you may be unable to recall the right answer during the test.

At KD College Prep, our test prep program is designed to prepare you for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT tests. Our program includes lessons taught in small groups, workshops that allow you to practice what you learn, and practice tests with instructor-led test reviews to help you find the answers to the questions you missed.

We also offer a private tutoring option if you prefer to work one-on-one with an instructor.

Unlike many of our competitors, our classes take place in person. This gives you the personal attention that is often required in order to reach your desired score. Our instructors and directors are available to answer your questions and help you feel prepared come test day.

Test prep with an instructor also beats trying to find all the right answers on your own. Sometimes you just need someone there to answer your questions or explain something in more detail.

Keep in mind that you should also memorize all tested math formulas before the test. The booklet will only refer to a limited set of formulas.

For more info on how to prepare for the test, check out our quick tips for effective study habits.

The Night Before the Test

3. Take Care of Yourself

It’s important to be kind to your mind and body the night before a long, grueling test.

Don’t spend the night cramming. Instead, eat something healthy for dinner, get plenty of sleep, and don’t forget to set your alarm. Using a backup alarm is a good idea if you are a heavy sleeper.

One KD Director suggests watching a movie or reading a book the night before your test. Immersing yourself in a story can help relieve anxiety

If test anxiety is something you struggle with, be sure to try out these 4 Tips for Test Anxiety.

4. Pack Your Stuff

We recommend that you pack up everything you need for the test in a bag and set it by the door. Rushing around the morning of the test trying to find pencils with erasers will only stress you out.

Things You’ll Need to Bring with You to the ACT or SAT Test

  • Photo ID
  • Admission ticket
  • Four or more #2 pencils with erasers
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Bottle of water
  • Healthy snack
  • Approved calculator & backup batteries

The Morning of the Test

5. Plan for a Smooth Morning

You’ve got a lot on your mind, but you can still check off these six easy tasks that will help your morning go as smoothly as possible.

  • Wake up early
  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Dress in comfortable layers (because the testing room is sure to be freezing)
  • Remember to bring your bag
  • Arrive at the test site at least 15 minutes early
  • Use the restroom

6. Relieve Stress

Avoid distress during the test by taking a moment to calm your nerves. Rushing across town to get to the test center can stress you out. Arriving early allows you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and clear your mind.

Remember to avoid negative self-talk during this time. Negative thoughts can lower your confidence which may cause you to question your ability to find the correct answers. Don’t second guess yourself. You’ve got this.

During the Test

7. Take Your Time

It’s a timed test, but rushing just causes foolish mistakes.

Read the question carefully and analyze the answer choices. It’s important to read all of the choices before you choose your answer. And watch out for negative words that reverse the meaning of a question or sentence.

Use the process of elimination and physically cross out incorrect answers. We teach strategies for the process of elimination in our lessons.

8. Double Check

Answer all of the questions. You aren’t penalized for incorrect answers, so guessing will always be to your advantage.

Make sure you bubbled an answer for every single question.

It would be smart to save the last 60 seconds to make sure you bubbled everything correctly. It’s kind of heartbreaking to circle C in the booklet but bubble B on accident.

Remember to double check that you’ve answered all of the questions before time for the section is called.

After the Test

9. Analyze Your Performance

Find out when test scores will be released. If you ordered a test booklet for a released test, take note of questions you answered correctly as well as those you missed. If you narrowed it down to two answers, and you chose the right one — celebrate!

Look at your scores in-depth. Find out what areas you can improve most. Is there a pattern in your wrong answers? Then go learn all the rules about semicolons.

Between official tests, you should study often. One of the best ways to do this is by taking practice tests and reviewing them with an instructor.

10. Retake the Test

If you don’t hit your score goal the first time, you’ll probably choose to retake the test. Almost everyone takes either the SAT test or the ACT test, or both, more than once.

Keep in mind that some colleges look at superscores. Superscores are estimated when a student takes a college admissions test more than once. The colleges looks at all of the times you took the test and pull an estimated score from your highest results for each section.

If the colleges you’re applying for accept superscores, then it is definitely worth retaking the test to boost your score for certain sections. To find out whether the schools on your college list accept superscores, ask a KD Director.

If you plan ahead and start testing in the fall of 11th grade, you should have multiple opportunities to retake the test in the spring.

Please note: If you’re aiming for a very high score, it will probably take you multiple attempts to reach your score goal.

Want to learn more about how to prepare for college admissions tests?

If you’re interested in learning about how our test prep program can help you achieve your score goals for the PSAT, SAT, or ACT tests, contact a campus near you.

Remember, you can always talk to a KD Director about strategies for test-taking — and if you follow these 10 tips, you’ll get off on the right track!