Online Tools That Can Support ACT, SAT Prep

When we envision digital tools geared for SAT and ACT prep, certain resources immediately come to mind: online practice tests, flash cards and the like. But a wealth of other tech tools are also available to SAT and ACT test-takers, and you could deeply benefit by using some of them as you study.

Diversify your SAT and ACT test prep and maximize your study efficiency by adding these online resources to your routine:

— Focal aids that enable distraction-free studying

— Tools that encourage efficient time management

— Electronic flashcards that use spaced repetition

— Video tutorials with explanations and examples

Focal Aids That Enable Distraction-Free Studying

Most study sessions start with good intentions of productivity. Unfortunately, students are surrounded by seemingly endless stimuli that can distract from that goal. Whether you’re distracted by noises from outside or your family pet, or just too tempted to refresh a social media app, you may find yourself struggling to stay focused on the task at hand.

[READ: 3 Signs You’re Ready for the ACT or SAT.]

One of the easiest ways to reduce distractions is to activate your phone’s “do not disturb” mode. This function silences all app notifications, calls and texts as long as your phone stays locked. Once you unlock it, you will see — and possibly hear — all notifications as you normally do. With most cellphone models, you can turn on the no-disturb option quickly from the main drop-down menu.

If your cellphone is an especially large distraction to you, consider using an app like OFFTIME that allows you to mute notifications, restrict or limit access to certain apps, track your phone activity and more. A full version of the app for Androids is free on Google Play with in-app purchases, and a version for Apple iOS devices costs 99 cents.

Another option is to purchase a mobile phone ” jail” available on Amazon and elsewhere. Once your phone is locked inside, ask someone to hold the key for you until your study session is over.

Tools That Encourage Efficient Time Management

Poor time management is an issue that most high school students experience at some point. They must frequently juggle test prep activities, regular academic commitments and responsibilities around the house, making effective time management essential.

[Read: ACT vs. SAT: How to Decide Which Test to Take.]

The Pomodoro Technique is a proven and simple strategy that can help you make the most of your time. It consists of setting a timer for 25 minutes, working efficiently during that period and then taking a break of typically about five minutes. Note that taking a break is not a suggestion but a required step of the process.

The Pomodoro Technique can be repeated as many times as is necessary, though students should be aware of how long they can realistically work before fatigue sets in. To get started, use a traditional timer, the one on your oven or cellphone, or the free virtual one at TomatoTimer.

Time management is closely linked with task management, another skill that students should hone during test prep. Consider downloading Remember the Milk, a free app that lets you set and categorize reminders in several ways, including by due date, priority and subject. With such apps, you do not have to worry about handwritten reminders that could get lost or overlooked.

Electronic Flashcards That Use Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is a learning technique that involves electronic flashcards shown according to several algorithms. Flashcards that contain new and difficult content are shown more often than those with familiar and easy material. When an incorrect answer is given, the flashcard is flagged for more frequent review.

Spaced repetition is especially helpful for learning vocabulary and formulas, which are essential to success on both the ACT and the SAT. Explore Anki and Brainscape, two websites that allow you to make your own flashcards, access others’ flashcards and study via spaced repetition.

Video Tutorials With Explanations and Examples

For explanations of specific concepts, question types and test-taking techniques, YouTube is a powerful resource. For concise math lessons, you might benefit from following the Mathademics channel, while Grammar Girl offers quirky overviews of writing and grammar topics such as punctuation marks, commonly confused words and misplaced modifiers.

[READ: Learn From Your ACT, SAT Practice Test Results With These Tips.]

And, of course, a great many videos are specifically geared toward ACT and SAT prep strategies. One important thing to note is that the ACT and SAT overlap quite a bit, so if you find videos helpful as you study for one test, the lessons will generally carry over to the other, as well.

Other Online Resources and Apps

Remember to take advantage of the resources noted above, as well as the more familiar options such as online practice tests.

The official creators of the ACT and SAT offer free sample exams, an excellent place to begin. You can locate additional practice problems by searching “ACT” or “SAT” in your cellphone’s app store. Many apps, such as ACT Online Prep for Android and Apple devices, exist in this space. Some even target specific sections of each test.

Varsity Tutors, the company that writes the College Admissions Playbook blog, also has free ACT and SAT classes that you can attend online.

As you prepare for the ACT or SAT, remember that these virtual tools can help you maximize test-day performance.

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