Studying for the SAT and ACT: 6 Ways to Motivate Yourself


Studying for the SAT and ACT: 6 Ways to Motivate Yourself

Before you can start your personal statement for college, ask for letters of recommendation, or even sign up for the Common App, you have to take standardized tests. The SAT or ACT may be the most important test of your life so far. It seems logical that you would have no trouble hitting the books so you could ace the test, but motivation can be hard to come by if you are tempted by other activities or simply feel overwhelmed by the thought of studying for this critical test. Here are a few motivational tips for when you're studying for the SAT and ACT.

1. Remind yourself that a good score can open doors.

Remember, you are taking the test to help you get into the college of your dreams. Do well on this test, and you may have far more choices for college than you would if you do not bother to do your best. That is pretty motivating!

2. Think of it as a step toward independence and your future.

Your reasons for taking the SAT and ACT may be unlike the reasons you have studied hard for tests in your school years up until now. It is possible you wanted to get good grades on exams to please your parents, to impress a teacher, or even to beat a friend’s score. Now, you are studying for yourself. Studying for the SAT and ACT is synonymous with the next step towards adulthood. Doing your best on the SAT or ACT is a sign that you are ready for independence as you head to college.

3. Designate a time and place to study.

It may seem silly, but having a time and a place to study can get you in the right mindset to study. Schedule a specific time in your day for studying, and keep it short enough so that you are able to focus for the entire allocated study time. Remember that you can have fun once you are done studying.

Find a place to study that is comfortable and has no distractions. Put your phone away. Choose a space that will accommodate your tastes. Some people study better in silence at a desk, while others like to recline on a couch and listen to music as they study. Figuring out how to study for the SAT and ACT, and the best practices to do so, is personal to you.

4. Turn it into your social time.

Are you afraid of missing out on time with your friends if you spend nights and weekends studying? You will not be missing out if you get your friends to study with you! You can quiz one another on vocabulary words; get the math whiz in your group to explain the algebra and geometry tricks that can get you through the test; and write essays, grade one another’s and discuss them. Studying for the SAT and ACT does not mean you have to study alone! You can even think of forming study groups as getting a head start for a crucial skill you will need in college, when you may find that your friends are the same as your study partners.

5. Check your progress.

There is nothing less motivating than working hard without seeing results, but that is exactly what can happen if you do nothing but practice problems and read sample passages from test prep books. Luckily, you do not have to wait until your official test results come back to see the results of your studying efforts.

To see your progress in the weeks leading to the exam, take practice exams regularly. Force yourself to take them under “real” test conditions, such as uninterrupted and watching the clock to stay within the time limits, and score them properly. The best answer to “how to study for the SAT”? Practice taking the SAT! Tracking your progress and seeing your scores improve can be just the catalyst you need to keep studying.

6. Think positively about your new skills.

Studying for the SAT and ACT can be daunting and even discouraging if you feel as though you are up against impossible subject matter. Try not to think about your weak areas as traps set up to make you fail. Instead, think of mastering the material as an opportunity to overcome a challenge. You are sure to come across difficult material in one, if not many, of your college classes, and you can practice working on your ability to grasp new concepts and skills now. Knowing how to study for the SATwill surely help you in the future. 

The SAT and ACT are such important tests that you know you should study as much as possible ahead of time. Still, it can be hard to find the drive to put in the hours it can take to master the skills and do your best. These few, simple tips can help you get motivated to study hard, and you can expect your efforts to pay off with the highest SAT and ACT scores for you, personally.


Author bio: Alison Blankenship works in the marketing department at TextbookRush. The company offers the chance for students to rent used textbooks online at reasonable prices.

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