Ivyed testing preparation actA few years ago, we published a blog regarding an ACT pacing watch (see https://ivyed.net/a-security-blanket-that-isnt-even-soft-our-thoughts-on-the-act-pacing-watch/). At the time, there were several flaws with it:  it didn’t account for the 2015 change to the ACT essay timing (which added an additional 10 minutes) and it couldn’t be adjusted for students who have Extended Time.  Well, since then a number of other companies have come out with their own watches, and testingtimers.com, the makers of the original one, came out with a “second generation” watch.

There is now https://www.topscorewatch.com/, a watch which times for the PSAT, SAT, SAT subject tests, and ACT, along with the “Test Buddy,” among others, and pricing ranges anywhere from around $30 to $50 for these items. Some of them still do not adjust for Extended Time and some of them are test-specific, that is, only for the ACT or SAT. So we stick with our original recommendation: no need to go out and purchase one of these. A simple digital watch (which adheres to the test policy guidelines) that costs around $15 works just as effectively. We do recommend that students and parents review the watch policies for each test. Here are the College Board SAT test day policies and here are the ACT policies.   

Another reason we would not recommend the commercial pacing watches is that they may contradict what your Ivy Ed teacher or tutor has told you. When we work one-on-one with a student, we make very specific recommendations regarding passage timing on both tests (i.e. for the EBRW section on the SAT or the science section on the ACT, for example).  Using one of these generic watches might not conform with what we tell our students and could cause confusion.

I did review a new timing app recently (it’s in its Beta phase and is currently free for download) but since cell phones are not allowed out at either the ACT or SAT, a student wouldn’t even be able to use it on the day of the test. I do like that it has adjustable features for students who get Extended Time and want to practice under those restrictions. Apart from that, I am concerned that it might distract students from actually working on the problems and make them time conscious, question by question.

So there’s our take on these devices and apps. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you have your timing strategy down for test day!  We at Ivy Ed can help you design an individualized testing strategy.