If you’re planning to self-prep for the ACT, the first thing you want to do is make sure it’s really the test you want to take (as opposed to the SAT).
First, whichever test you go with, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with. If you like one better than the other, or dislike one less than the other, that fact should weight in your decision of which to take. Second, you may find you have a “natural” advantage on one test over the other.
So, before embarking on prep, take a full, timed, official practice test of both the ACT and SAT.
That last comment bears repeating – especially when you’re scoring, only use official practice exams! Official SAT practice tests can be found at the College Board website and at Kahn Academy’s site. You can also find links to real SATs and real ACTs at my site: http://quizhacker.net/resources/
Make sure to take each test on a weekend morning and follow all the directions. You want to simulate actual test conditions as closely as possible. Obviously, don’t take both tests on the same day!
Next, score the exams. Keys and scoring guides can be downloaded with the tests. Scoring is kind of a pain, but is needs to be done!
Once you’ve scored the tests, you need to compare them. This is not so simple, since the scales are completely different, and just comparing the averages of correct answers is not the best to go about it. To accurately compare scores, you need a concordance. You can find some online, but if this part of the process vexes you, just contact me with your scores. I’ll look them up in the concordance and get back to you.
Once you’ve taken both tests and compared the scores, you’re ready to get started!