The best way to prepare for the SAT and ACT tests is to practice, but you do not always want to spend upwards of twenty-five dollars on a preparation book. Luckily, free practice exists and it can be just about as helpful.
Visit the Official Web Sites
Both the SAT and ACT offer free practice via their official websites. The College Board boasts an online test that allows you to input your answers and even write a practice essay (a score is estimated based upon your diction, syntax, etc.). The entire test is scored online and you receive guidance on how to better prepare.
The ACT makes available a downloadable practice test with an answer key, as well as sample essays. The official site also has pages that explain each subsection of the test, which can prove invaluable for those who aren’t sure of the difference between English and Reading or don’t know what exactly Science Reasoning is.
Both have a “Question of the Day” that you can answer for free for more practice.
Other Test Practice Sites
Websites like SparkNotes and Number2.com allow you to access free vocabulary tools and practice tests to maximize your preparation for test day. Simply search for “free online act sat practice tests” and an insane number of results will turn up. Just make sure that you’re looking at well-reviewed sites with good resources that are actually free. If you find some, you’re set. You have all the practice you’ll need before the big Saturday and the best part, of course, is that it doesn’t cost you any extra money!
Find Old Tests
One of my favorite ways to prepare for standardized tests was to reuse old ones. Look up old forms for the ACT, SAT, and PSAT along with their answer keys. You can usually easily find several of these as PDFs to download and work through at your leisure. I like this method because, unlike a practice test, you can’t tell yourself it’s easier or harder than the real thing because it is the real thing.
Practice books are very helpful for standardized testing (though I would advise only buying a single book for one of the tests as the Writing, Reading, and Math sections are kind of all the same; if you’re taking both, go for an ACT book, as the differences mean you would need to learn about extra sections), but they only work if you have time to use them. If your schedule won’t allow intense preparation, just find some quick, free, online resources. They are no less helpful and might be the better choice for you.