Test preparation—something that is lamentably an absolute, probably the only time I tell my students something they must do, that’s non-negotiable, and with a roll of my eyes—can cost a lot of money. The reality of US university admissions is this: you should never base your final “list” on those universities that are test-optional or blind and you should absolutely commit to taking one of the two tests, ACT or SAT (and not both). Shameful or not (it is), these tests are a part of the application and preparing for them is a part of the process. So, aside from those select test-prep organizations that really do do a fabulous job yet cost a lot of money, what is a student to do? Here are some options for free test preparation that will require a proactive and determined student (but shouldn’t every student at least have some determination and proactivity during this process? Answer is yes…but that’s for another post…):
1. Khan Academy: has thousands of videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and over a hundred practice exercises. SAT. ACT upcoming.
2. Testive: Free SAT and ACT prep, Parent Resource Center. www.testive.com
3. Bright Storm: Free prep for SAT, ACT, and AP Exams in Biology, Calculus AB, US History, US Government. www.brightstorm.com/test-prep/
4. Prepped & Polished Podcasts: Lots of podcasts about how to do well on AP exams and Subject Tests, as well as many other college related topics. www.vocabularycartoons.com
5. Free Rice : Free guidance with vocabulary; connects to the World Food Programme, too.
6. Sparknotes.com : great site for learning the strategies for doing SAT questions faster. Has comprehensive study guides and strategies for performing your best on test day—all for free!
7. College Board : Practice tests and sign up for free SAT question of the day
8. Act.org Practice tests and sign up for free ACT question of the day
9. Local library
Books of choice: For those who are dedicated to self-study (which can work for the right student!)
SAT: The Official SAT Study Guide, College Board; Barron’s New SAT
ACT: The Real ACT Prep Guide, Wiley