Usain Bolt, the world record holder for the 100-meter and 200-meter dash, doesn’t run marathons. Why? Because running marathons require a level of stamina he doesn’t have. The SAT and ACT are tests of stamina. Like Usain, we are all mental sprinters. We can all take a 10, 20 even 30 question test and not break a sweat. But give us the 154 questions of the SAT or the 215 questions on the ACT (not including the optional essays), and we’re exhausted. Each exam requires nearly 4 hours of mental focus! Which brings me to my point – many students underperform on the SAT and ACT not because they don’t know the material, but because they lack mental stamina.
So what’s the solution to this? Practice. Or better yet, practice tests. Notice I didn’t say practice problems. I said practice tests, meaning full-length exams. Ideally, students preparing for the SAT or ACT should take at least three full-length, timed practice exams. One exam, at the start of their test prep regimen (to determine their strengths and weaknesses). One exam, approximately half way through their test prep regimen. And one towards the end of their test prep, or days before taking the actual exam.
If you’re anything like me, doing full-length practice exams can feel like a waste of time when you could be learning more material, but nothing else builds stamina like it. Doing batches of practice problems here and there helps you learn the material (which is also very important), but it doesn’t really build stamina. Full-length exams prepare you to be as mentally sharp on question 100 as you were on question 10. And that prevents you from underperforming.
Thankfully, with all the things you may have to pay for with the SAT and ACT (books, tutors, registration fees), practice tests aren’t one of them. We’ve compiled links to 5 official ACT exams and 8 official SAT exams for your test taking “delight” (or stamina).
SAT Practice Exams 1 - 8
ACT Practice Exam - 1
ACT Practice Exam - 2
ACT Practice Exam - 3
ACT Practice Exam - 4
ACT Practice Exam - 5