There is no better way to study for the SAT then taking official College Board practice tests. Just trying these problems alone will give you familiarity for the cadence, structure, and outline of the test. There are a few things you can do to maximize your effectiveness when using the practice tests.
Treat them like they are the real SAT.
I recommend that my students take practice tests in simulated situations. Specifically, put away your phone and other electronics for about four hours. Mark the breaks at the same exact time you would have on the real SAT and time each section as well. Don’t walk around or dilly dally. Approaching the test like you are performing in real time is a guaranteed way to increase your score. By the time the SAT rolls around, it will be second nature to get up early on Saturday. Timing yourself will build your stamina and pacing so by the time you take the test, you will be ready to excel.
Know Your Challenges.
Review every single problem you got wrong, as well as ones you had questions about. When I say review, I don’t mean glancing at the problem. Not only should you figure out where you took a wrong turn, but also identify the strategy and type of question it was. This means investigating if a problem is testing you on idioms or parallelism. In math, are you consistently getting 45-45-90 right triangles wrong or is it more of an issue with circumscribed circles? Taking this route of deeper analysis will not only strengthen your weaknesses with SAT 2400 strategies, but will also help you start to identify patterns before you take the test.
Reviewing your practice tests and having the stamina to take a full test and not get tired will elevate your performance to an unbelievable level. Combine this with studying vocabulary and mastering all SAT strategies and there is no reason why you can’t hit a 2400. It comes down to taking the time to analyze individual problems and identify why you answer certain questions wrong. Do this enough and the test will start to slow down and crystallize. I credit the effectiveness of this approach because of my personal success on the SAT. It got me to the point where I was able to determine the type of problem the test was asking right away. I knew that they were looking for an incorrect modified or a subject-verb agreement error on a particular problem. Having this pattern recognition is crucial in succeeding on the SAT. Once this happens, you will be ready to conquer the SAT!
Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.