As the last day of school bell rings, the sun is shining, the beach is beckoning, and studying for the SAT is often the last thing on students’ minds. It is almost certain that taking a little bit of time to not think about standardized tests is beneficial, but that does not mean that the next two months should be devoid of any work. With a work out plan, the two most important things are consistency and attitude. This is true of SAT studying as well. The summer should be fun, but in less than an hour and a half a week (about 13 minutes a day!), students can keep sharp on the SAT without sacrificing their tans (please students, tan responsibly).
1. Do A Few Problems Every Day. The time necessary to do three or four math problems, three sentence completions, one reading passage, three improving sentences problems, and three identifying sentence error problems is actually quite small. Doing twelve problems, three times a week, shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes per week and is a good way to keep sharp even if you are spending most of your time sipping green juices by the pool. Just make sure to go through every type of problem to give you some practice changing your mindset to attack different types of questions. Set a clock for 13 minutes and see if you can get through all the problems in the allotted time. Try to do questions you find challenging but not impossible. If you make careless arithmetic errors, be sure to include some easy and medium problems so that you can practice avoiding such errors. You can also start self-selecting problems that are particularly tricky to give you more pointed practice. Do those math problems with only variables and no numbers give you problems? Spend a few days focusing on those. If you are working with a tutor, you can also ask them to design homework in this way.
2. Every Week, Do A Full Timed Section. This practice is helpful for making sure you are dealing with time effectively. Many students don’t do enough practice in a timed setting, so the idea of being timed on the actual test becomes overwhelming. Help acclimate yourself to this stress by normalizing the timed nature of the test. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t finish a section in the prescribed time. Make it a race against yourself to get closer to the time that is required. See if you can make it a game to see how quickly you can do problems without making errors. Finishing the SAT in time isn’t an easy task, so keep striving if it is challenging at first. Feeling like you have a handle on the timing of the SAT can go a long way toward helping you to feel confident during the test. Each section is just 25 minutes at most, but by the end of a nine week summer, you will have completed a full practice test in a timed manner (in addition to all other practice).
3. Learn A Little Vocab Every Week. Developing a system for vocabulary with regular learning and reviewing is crucial to developing a great SAT vocabulary. Look at five or six words every other day and at the end of the week, review the 20 or so that you have learned. Learning five or six new words should only take about five minutes, and though this sounds like some kind of scam work out product, just five minutes a day can produce fantastic results. In nine weeks students can add 200 vocab words to their repertoire and have thoroughly reviewed the words they already know. If you are using vocabulary lists in the SAT 2400 In Just 7 Steps book by Shaan Patel, remember to eliminate words you already know to maximize your efforts (though its a good idea to review all of the words, just in case). This method will actually prove extremely effective in creating long term memory for these definitions as gradual repetition is one of the best methods for forming memory. Challenge yourself to use all five words in a conversation the day you learn them.
The lower work load in the summer provides an opportunity to utilize your time for tons of fun activities, but it also provides time for other efforts (like college applications, extra curriculars, and the SAT). Remember, consistency and attitude are the two keys to success, so turn off all distractions, and use the summer to bolster your studying so you come out of it rested and ready to attack the test! We hope you have a wonderful summer, and thank you for letting us help you attack the SAT!
David Greenslade is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in New York. His passion for education began while tutoring students in underrepresented areas during his time at the University of North Carolina. After receiving a degree in Biology, he studied language in China and then moved to New York where he teaches SAT prep and participates in improv comedy. Read more of his articles here, including How I Scored in the 99th Percentile and How to Effectively Study for the SAT.