For students, few parts of the college application process are as daunting as the prospect of taking the SAT and ACT.

As a guidance counselor, you’re likely to field a wide range of questions on the two, so an update on the best ways to prepare is always in order.

To get a serious insider’s point of view, we talked to an SAT/ACT tutor who knows the process as well as anyone: Debbie Stier founded the Perfect Score Project (and wrote a book of the same title) after she spent a year trying to crack the SATs and help her son do the same. Neither ultimately got that perfect score, but she managed to raise hers over 300 points, and her son raised his by 500.

So if you have students who are want or need to conquer the SAT or ACT, share this primer with them.

Pick One Test and Focus on It

Most schools now accept both the SAT and ACT, so unless you find yourself applying to a school that doesn’t take both, your best bet is to choose one test early on and then learn it, live it and take it.

Sign Up for the Official Question of the Day

The Official SAT Question of the Day and the ACT Question of the Day are easy ways to do a little daily prep. The ACT e-mails a new batch of questions each week, while the SAT’s app, Daily Practice for the New SAT, sends a single question each day.

Invest in Only One Book

There are a ton of SAT and ACT prep books, but those most worth buying are the official ones: The Official SAT Study Guide (2018) and The Official ACT Prep Guide (2018). They’re both created by the makers of the standardized tests, and while they won’t provide much in the way of studying strategies, they do offer plenty of real sample tests — something other books can’t offer.

Read One Op-ed Piece a Day

One of the most underrated prep techniques is to commit to reading one op-ed piece each day in a high-quality publication to help with reading comprehension. This could be a column in The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Wall Street Journal, or it could be just about anything in The New Yorker, Arts & Letters Daily or even the Smithsonian. When doing this, you should do two reads — the first to get the gist and the second to understand the structure. To read for structure, look at how the main idea is introduced and how each paragraph supports that main idea, then make notes — two- or three-word phrases about what each paragraph does — in the margins.

Become a Mathlete at Khan Academy

While there’s no substitute for one-on-one tutoring, Khan Academy’s free SAT Math Solutions videos are a not-so-distant second. They offer explanations that are understandable, even for the least mathletic among us.

Aim to Take 10 Practice Exams

That’s the number most tutors recommend completing — though some insist on 15 — before sitting for either test. Considering the SAT is three hours and 50 minutes and the ACT is two hours and 55 minutes, this is a serious time commitment that may not always be realistic. If that’s the case, three practice exams leave you well on your way to developing a familiarity with either test.

Practice Vocab on a Flash Card App

Trading some social media time for a flash card app is an easy way to add test prep to any day. For the SAT, a good free app is SAT Flashcards, and for the ACT, try ACT Flashcards from Magoosh. You can also create your own cards out of words you missed on practice exams with apps like Cram.

Create Test-Room Conditions When Practicing

While it’s not feasible to replicate everything, you should at least time your practice tests down to each section. Take the timed breaks and use bubble sheets — you can print them out for free here — instead of doing the tests online. After all, that is how you’ll do it on test day.

Review Every Mistake on Practice Tests

When you are done with each practice exam, review everything you got wrong, categorize what types of questions they are (e,g, reading comprehension, triangle questions) and tally each category. Then — and here’s the most important part — go over each one until you understand why it’s wrong. If you get stuck on the why, post your questions on the College Confidential message board.