Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

As current seniors decide where they want to spend their next four years, the next crop of college applicants prepares to embark on the application process. In fact, many will be checking off one major hurdle in the upcoming months: standardized testing.

Whether it’s the SAT or the ACT, most universities require some form of standardized testing as a required component of the application, and students (or, let’s be real: parents) are more than willing to shell out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on test prep books and courses.

However, what about those who can’t afford those books or courses? If you’re in that situation, have no fear, because The Prospect is here with five free test prep suggestions.

1. Talk to your guidance counselor

A lot of students think guidance counselors are only good for filling out the secondary school report, but they’re actually a vital resource for the college-bound student. Counselors often have materials sent from the test-makers themselves in their offices to help students prepare for the SAT or ACT. These materials usually include a brief study guide and one or two official practice tests. In addition, counselors may have test prep books that previous students have donated to them available for loan. Also, some schools will offer test prep sessions for free, and your counselor will probably be the contact person for that type of thing. Your counselors want to see you succeed, so drop in and talk to them to see how they can help you!

2. Utilize your connections

If you know of anyone who has taken the SAT or ACT in the past, don’t be afraid to reach out to them to ask for help. Friends are usually more than willing to help out, and most people who have taken the tests will more likely than not have some type of test prep resource, whether its a PDF, a physical prep book or flashcards. In addition, talking to people who have taken the tests is a great way to mentally prepare or figure out strategies that will help you get through them.

3. Google is your best friend

If you’re a junior, you should know this by now. A simple Google search will tell you that Khan Academy has partnered with College Board to provide high-quality SAT prep resources. A few more seconds on Google reveals that Sparknotes offers test prep guides for both the SAT and ACT. If you take time to scour the web, there’s no doubt that you’ll find many websites that offer a similar service, but Khan Academy and Sparknotes are two of the best examples there are. All it takes is a little initiative, a lot of patience and a targeted search query to get you to the score you want!

4. Check out the SAT or ACT website

There’s a saying that goes, “If you want something, go directly to the source.” Just kidding, I just made that up, but it definitely applies in this situation. If you want to do well on standardized tests, where else would you go but to the websites of the test providers? Both the SAT and ACT have test prep sections on their websites with a lot of helpful features, including a “Question of the Day” section, test tips and sample test questions. In terms of the websites, the SAT one offers more for test takers. It even includes a free full-length practice test and helps students figure out a recommended study plan.

5. Go to your local library

A final resource that is often overlooked by students is the library. Many libraries will carry copies of test prep books available for check out, and it can be very beneficial to have the physical book. Some libraries even offer free SAT prep sessions. Although this isn’t too common, don’t be shy to talk to your local librarian and see what the library has in terms of test prep resources! It doesn’t cost anything to sign up for a library card, so what are you waiting for?

Go ahead and show those standardized tests who’s boss.

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the author

Benjamin Din is a student at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, where he is studying journalism and the mathematical methods in the social sciences (what does that even mean?). When he's not writing for The Prospect, he can be found on Twitter as he tries to build his social media presence. For more information, check out his website.

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