SAT Tip of the Week: Here Are 3 Things You Should NOT Do When Aiming for a Perfect Score

SAT Tip of the Week - Full A lot of times, students focus on the things they should be doing to get a perfect score. This is a great attitude to have, as it puts the focus on students actively completing tasks. Many of these tips, like studying vocabulary on a daily basis and taking consistent practice tests form the foundation of a successful SAT plan. However, it’s also important to note that there are certain habits and strategies to avoid during preparation in order to get your best score possible. Here are 3 things you absolutely should not be doing if you want a 2400.

1. Studying Vocabulary once a week
Depending on your studying timeline and horizon, you will be learning anywhere from 30 to 60 new words a week. If you really wanted to, you could knock these out in one forty five minute session once a week. You would be able to memorize the words for that week, but over the long term this would be very detrimental to your score. Instead of this, you should be learning smaller chunks of words on a daily basis. By cramming them all in once a week, you limit the amount of times you are exposed to each word, as well as your ability to really concentrate on the more difficult words. There are countless studies out there that show studying in smaller chunks is the best way to memorize, and this is no exception. If you want a 2400, make sure not to only study vocabulary once a week. Even if you can memorize a decent amount of words, it won’t nearly be as effective as the recommended way for the 2400 plan.

2. Using your own strategies on practice tests
As the old saying goes, if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten. The SAT is not like high school subjects, where there are a variety of ways to get to the correct answer. The SAT is an extremely coachable test that students do well on if they follow a specific criteria of strategies. The biggest problem many students have is that they will learn these strategies, but then it’s difficult at the onset to apply them when taking practice tests. So, in order to succeed on these early tests, students fall back on their comfortable strategies that unfortunately do not yield the results they are looking for. It’s important to remember that early practice test scores don’t matter; they are there to build your skills. Don’t be so fixated on the score that you build upon bad habits.

3. Stay up late
Some students feel it is a badge of honor to push themselves to the brink in terms of SAT preparation and the college process in general. It is an extremely stressful time, and doing this has diminishing marginal benefits. Of course the more work students put in, the better they will do, but this is only to a certain extent. Sleep is crucial to the brain performing optimally, and ensuring that you get enough sleep will allow you to perform better on practice tests and sections. Space out your study schedule so you can accomplish all of your goals and get a full night of sleep in.

That is the true way to a 2400. Happy Studying!

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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.