Taking a free, proctored practice test in our office is an ideal way to establish a baseline score or “train” for the day you take the ACT or SAT.  But maybe our practice test schedule won’t work for you or you live in a remote location. (Or, as is the case now, a pandemic has shut down our offices.)  The good news is there are still ways to take a practice test on your own.

Step One: Download a Free Practice Test

Both the College Board and ACT offer free practice tests on their websites.  The College Board offers 10 full-length practice tests, available for download.  The ACT includes one test along with a test-taking tips document. 

Step Two: Be Your Own Proctor

Some students are tempted to take a practice test piecemeal, take regular breaks or pause for other activities.  That’s fine as part of a long-term study routine but will not give you the feel for test-day conditions.  Begin your practice test simulation by setting aside a three-hour window in a quiet space with a minimum of interruptions.  Find a place in the house (or at a local library) where you can approximate testing conditions.  Don’t underestimate how grueling a standardized test can be.  The goal is to learn how you fare when faced with time pressure and fatigue.  Honor the time limits on each section and take breaks only between the second and third sections and before the essay.

If you worry about sustaining motivation, consider some alternatives to self-proctoring.  A parent or friend could keep time.  Alternatively, there are YouTube videos that act as a virtual proctor for both the SAT and the ACT.  A cheerful voice walks you through the entire test, flags the time, and remains silent while you are working:

Don’t forget to use an official SAT or ACT scoring sheet.  It helps simulate the test-taking experience and will save time when scoring the exam.

Step Three: Score Your Test and Analyze the Results

Some students are tempted to take a practice test and then, exhausted by the effort, ignore the result.  But the result is the roadmap to a long-term study plan.  Students should examine their results to learn what types of questions they do well on, where they are weaker, and also consider how they fare on time management.  

Need help interpreting your self-test scores? Click here to schedule a free consultation to discuss your at-home result. For more information, read our blog on how to use a practice test to chart a path to standardized test success. When possible, sign up here and join us for a free in-office practice test.

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