At first glance, standardized tests and sports seem to have nothing in common. I mean, hello, how does a Saturday morning spent hunched over a scantron have anything to do with an adrenaline-packed session of hopping over hurdles or chasing down balls? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Both Require Practice

For any sport, it’s important to practice regularly in order to keep improving your game, stay in shape, and tone your muscles. The same is true on the SAT and ACT—if you don’t use it, you lose it! Consistent practice will ensure that you have the muscle memory needed to answer SAT/ACT questions quickly and effectively, as well as to help you fill any gaps in your knowledge or smooth out rough areas in your performance.

Scrimmages (i.e., practice games) are helpful supplements to your practice that allow you to put all you’ve learned into play. In the standardized testing world, practice tests are a valuable way to test your time management and endurance. However, scrimmages (and practice tests) are no substitute for consistent practice. There’s no cramming for tests like the SAT and ACT, just like you can’t become a tennis champion overnight!

Both Require Strategy

Going in with a “game plan” is crucial for any standardized test. Just like learning new plays and techniques in your sport of choice, having a course of action will give you the finesse to smoothly navigate the questions and answer choices, rather than stumbling blindly through unfamiliar territory.

Understanding the structure of the test, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and having a plan for dealing with tricky or confusing questions will earn you more points in the long run. And, as we know, it’s all about those points.

Both Require Hustle

The time per question on the SAT and ACT ranges from just over 30 seconds to around a minute and a half. With so many problems and so little time, it’s important to practice the skill of time management and not let yourself get bogged down in the details.

Both Require Endurance

Just like the stamina required to run for miles in cross country or continuously adapt to changing scenarios in a fast-paced basketball game, standardized tests also require both mental and physical endurance. While the time allotment per question is short, standardized tests themselves are a major time commitment. The SAT and ACT are each ~three-hour long tests, and failure to prepare can leave you exhausted and unable to think clearly or effectively.

Both Require a Strong Offense and Defense

Whether on the court or the scantron, your two main goals are to score as many points as possible and to keep your opponent from scoring against you. Completing practice problems will help you to develop a strong offensive game, and learning the patterns of the tests can help you to “know your enemy” and defensively identify and sidestep common traps.

Finally, behind every successful athlete is a coach who knows all the ins and outs of the game. To be matched with your very own ACT or SAT prep coach and receive customized tips, tricks, and strategies, schedule your free consultation with a Student Success Advisor to begin your test prep journey today!