Test Prep Guide: Use a Test Watch

The bogeyman of many standardized tests, and of the ACT in particular, is timing. It’s no accident that psychoeducational test batteries are conducted in both timed and untimed settings; the presence of time constraints can influence cognitive performance in a highly nuanced fashion.

One simple aid? A watch. We recommend one in particular. But first…

Here’s why:

Whether or not a student’s test prep approach relies on progress benchmarks in a section, a watch allows students to see the time remaining in a section without having to figure it out from a glance at the clock. For many students, simply having this information literally at hand helps to temper the anxiety of facing time limits.

And here’s how:

Unfortunately, your current watch probably won’t satisfy the tests’ watch policies. Most simple digital watches have no means of disabling timer alarms, and both tests require that the watch must be silent:


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So without further ado, here are our watch recommendations:

1st Choice:

Testing Timers TT-AII ACT G2 Pacing Digital Timer and Watch.

NOTE: if you’re taking any exam other than the ACT with normal time, make sure you purchase the 2nd generation of this watch! (By default, the watch is programmed for the ACT, but it can be programmed to suit any test.) Note also that it is remarkably ugly.


If your student is up to a little fiddling, we can also recommend the Casio Men’s AE2000W-1AV. While this watch is not quite as customized as the Testing Timers watch, it is both silent and programmable. It is also slightly less hideous.