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"Check your gut only once." | A UNC-Chapel Hill Student's SAT/ACT Advice

We had the privilege of interviewing AW via Google Doc and asked for some experience about: the SAT/ACT

AW is currently a student at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in sociology and psychology.

Here is a piece of wisdom she shares:

  • "Check your gut only once."

  • "You just have to train yourself to think fast and take in only necessary information, cutting the fluff."

  • "Read all you can."

Q: Did you take the SAT, ACT, or both? Which one did you find fit you better (how did you do)?

A: I took both but I definitely preferred the ACT. I think I got a 34, I don’t remember what I got on the SAT. I liked the ACT because it was more straightforward and the English section came more naturally to me personally.

Q: What type of resources did you use to study (study groups, tutors, Kaplan, official test preps, online sites, etc) and how did you structure your studying?

A: When I was a sophomore I did C2 classes for a couple months. They didn’t end up helping me but I’ve heard they’re effective. I’m better at just self-studying so if I could’ve done something differently, I wouldn’t have done private tutoring. For self-studying, I avoided Kaplan because those aren’t usually representative of what the tests are actually like. Princeton Review and CollegeBoard are pretty standard. I think my studying for each section depended on where I was. For SAT, I’d just do sections separately, check over them, and rework them. I’d only take a practice test once or twice a week. For ACT prep, I had to familiarize myself with the types of questions asked in the Science question and then just get better at reading charts from there. Time is of the essence for that section so I learned to not weigh myself down with the details.

Q: When did you start preparing? (middle school, freshman year, junior year, etc.)

A: Sophomore year for SAT, junior year for ACT

Q: What is one strategy that you used on every single test to help you prepare?

A: Check your gut only once.

Q: Did you do the writing portion? Why or why not?

A: Yes, it was required for the colleges I applied to.

Q: For ACT Science, ACT English, or SAT Writing & Language, was any background knowledge necessary or helpful?

A: For science, no. You just have to train yourself to think fast and take in only necessary information, cutting the fluff. For the English sections on both tests, it helps if you just read. Read all you can. Read prose, read the news, understand flows of ideas so it just comes naturally.