Studying for the SAT may feel daunting, but remember that this test has been around in one form or another since 1926, and its latest format was introduced back in 2005. That means millions of students have taken the exam, gotten high scores, and gone on to attend their dream school. Here’s what you can do to be among those high-scoring students:
1. Commit to a set study schedule.
To make sure you get the SAT test date and testing center you want, register early, at least 2-3 months before the exam. That way you can create a study schedule, working backwards from the test date. Be realistic with yourself. How much time can you commit each week to SAT practice questions? Work in 2-3 hour blocks maximum. It’s better to study 20-30 minutes a day than 4 hours once a week.
2. Face your fears.
Are you a slow reader? Is your SAT Math knowledge so-so? Grammar got you down? Know going into your SAT test prep what areas need more work and plan to address them first. You’ll need more time for the weaknesses. Don’t put off studying for a section just because you dread it!
3. Do short and long pacing drills.
The SAT is comprised of ten sections which alternate Writing, Reading, and Math. These sections have different challenges regarding pacing, with different numbers of questions and different time limits. You will need to develop a pacing strategy for each section so that you are as comfortable completing the 25-min sections as you are completing the final 10-minute Writing section.
4. Memorize the directions.
Don’t waste valuable time on your SAT test day reading and re-reading instructions. Each question-type has its own set of directions. Familiarize yourself with them now.
5. Use reliable practice material.
Start studying with the SAT Official Guide and the material on sat.org. Veritas Prep books are excellent supplemental materials. Look for books with a lot of practice tests. For online studying, look at comprehensive study sites such as Grockit.com that have material that is based on the Official Guide and old released tests.
6. Think like the testmaker.
Try to develop an understanding of what the test-makers “prefer” in terms of the answer choices. For example, after studying the SAT Writing sections for some time you’ll notice how overall the SAT test-makers prefer less wordiness and economy of language. This kind of understanding will help you make better “educated guesses” on harder problems.
Follow in these high-scorer’s footsteps, and you’ll be on your way to breaking 2000+ in no time. And remember, the SAT tests a finite number of vocabulary words, grammatical concepts, and Math formulas. The questions may have changed formats over the years, but the tested content has essentially remained the same.
Vivian Kerr is a regular contributor to the Veritas Prep blog, providing advice to help students better prepare for the GMAT and the SAT.