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Organizational Tips for ACT and SAT Preparation

Brenda A.


Staying organized is an important part of preparing for the ACT or SAT. Having a solid organizational strategy may not seem necessary in the beginning when you have just the official study guide and maybe an unofficial book or two. However, if you don’t devise an organizational plan for your ACT or SAT supplements, you can easily find yourself drowning in handouts, practice tests, and print outs of previous test scores. The good news is that organizing your ACT or SAT study material does not have to be overly complicated or laborious. The following strategies will make organizing your ACT/SAT supplements a cinch, allowing you to spend less time hunting for that one handout you need and more time actually preparing for the exam.


Create a “Home” For Your ACT/SAT Material

Designate a spot for storing all of your ACT/SAT material when you are not using it. This can be a shelf in your room, a corner of your desk, the dining room table, or anywhere else where you know your material will not be disturbed between study sessions. Place all your ACT/SAT materials in this location and take specific items out only as you need them. Most importantly, once you are finished studying for the day, put all your materials back in this spot. Do not leave your ACT/SAT resources sitting out just because you’ll “need them next time.” If you find yourself making this excuse on a regular basis, consider moving your ACT/SAT materials’ “home” closer to where you actually study.


Create an ACT/SAT Binder

Get a standard three ringer binder, a packet of dividers, some labels, and a triple hole punch. Place any new materials you print out in the binder, and label each section clearly. Experiment with different ways of organizing your information until you find one that lets you quickly find what you need when you need it.


For example, you might divide ACT/SAT materials by test subject (Reading, Writing, and Math), or you might place all of your notes in one section, all your handouts in another, and all your practice test results in yet another. Don’t be afraid to revamp your filing method midway through studying for the exam. The approach that works best when you have a relatively small number of documents may not be the same one that works when you have pages and pages of handouts.


Organize Your Electronic Resources

Not everything that you find online should end up in your physical ACT/SAT binder. For one thing, the quality of ACT and SAT information available online varies wildly. You shouldn’t print out every random “test tips” article you come across on the odd chance that you might need to reference it. For another, some online resources are simply not designed for printing and may be difficult, if not impossible, to format correctly.


To keep these online resources organized, make sure that you bookmark them and place the bookmarks in their own folder in your browser. For any resources that you do download but don’t immediately print out, create an ACT or SAT folder on your main computer. If you switch computers regularly or do most of your web browsing through a phone or tablet, consider using a cloud service to store your digital ACT/SAT files. This gives you fast and easy access, regardless of whether you are near your primary computer.

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