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We’re back this month with more phone or tablet applications that actually can help students prepare for the SAT and ACT. (We promise the writer is not three high school students in a trenchcoat.) These resources will focus on writing, science (which is specific to the ACT), and study skills.
Before we dive in, a reminder that honing academic skills will absolutely help test-takers on the SAT and ACT. However, becoming familiar with the tests’ formats, the way they phrase questions, and the environment of a timed standardized test experience will show students exactly what to expect. Our live, virtual or in-person classes do just that, giving students a testing experience (plus all they could want to know about the tests) in a calm and supportive setting.
Each of the following apps and programs was not specifically created to be test prep resources, but they can help build skills, exposure to topics, and confidence for students who incorporate them into their studying. Let’s kick off the screen time.
Writing and Grammar Skills (Writing & Language section on SAT, English section on ACT)
The Why: As both the SAT and the ACT begin to move away from essay sections, students can focus on their editing and proofreading skills on the sentence level. Neither test asks for definitions of parts of speech or spelling corrections but focuses on improving writing to be concise and understandable. A tip: reading texts with correct grammar to study for the Reading sections will also help students recognize correct and incorrect grammar in the Writing sections.
Elevate – This app makes proofreading and improving sentences into a game. Although technically a cognitive skills-boosting app, several of the skills assist with proofreading through practicing topics like capitalization, word choice, and punctuation. The app uses the Chicago Manual style guide for its exercises, so students can trust that the game answers will agree with SAT and ACT solutions.
English Grammar Book – With 138 lessons to choose from, this app teaches tons of skills that could pop up in questions on the SAT and ACT. Users can also take quizzes to test their knowledge. Lessons are split up into levels, so users can choose to revisit the basics or start with more challenging skills.
Science-related Skills (Science section on ACT)
The Why: The Science section only appears on the ACT, but students could see writings on science-related topics on the SAT too, so these apps could be used for both tests. The ACT’s section focuses mostly on graph and data interpretation, analyzing different scientific viewpoints, and understanding the scientific method.
Science News Daily – A major hurdle that students encounter in the ACT’s science section is feeling intimidated by the subject matter and topics. Even though the questions will not ask for students to recall content, mentions of tectonic plates, solid substrates, and equilibrium arrows slow test-takers down. But, if students start to become more familiar with science terms through reading articles in this app, the topics may feel more approachable. Users can select different topics to fill their newsfeeds and read updates about advances in earth science, biology, and more.
Tableau’s Viz of the Day – Although not an app, the Viz of the Day can help students look at data and graphs in entirely new ways. Tableau is a software that allows its users to create data visualizations (vizzes), which are like if the charts and graphs of a typical PowerPoint honed their craft and won an Oscar. Each day, Tableau’s website posts the Viz of the Day (or VOTD) from a Tableau user who made a fantastic visualization. Users can interact with the visualization and understand how the data is laid out in an attractive and understandable way. Tableau even offers a subscription option, where the VOTD is sent straight to the user’s inbox every day. Understanding these complex graphs can help students easily and quickly read graphs on test day.
The Why: It makes sense that if a brain isn’t focused and relaxed, no amount of studying and preparing will make skills stick. That’s where this last category comes into play; these two apps will help create the best environment for learning and reviewing on and off the cell phone.
Forest – This app comes in handy when students need to put down the phone screen and concentrate on prep without the distractions of texts or social media. When the user sets a period of time in which they’d like to be phone-free, the app plants a little tree. As long as the phone stays untouched, the tree grows. But, if the user uses their phone before the time period expires, the tree dies. Users can grow their own little forests, and the best part is that the company is planting real trees through the nonprofit Trees for the Future.
The Breathing App – A large component to taking the SAT and ACT is keeping mental health front and center during prep and on test days. This app offers a break to reset and relax with a few moments of deep breathing. Visual and auditory cues help users match structured breathing to stay calm. Students who become comfortable with these patterns could even do them without the app to stop some anxiety during the SAT and ACT.
We hope these slightly non-traditional study resources are a great help to a usual SAT or ACT study routine. Check out our class schedule to take the test prep experience even further.