SAT Tip of the Week: Your 3 Step Beginner’s Guide to Study Planning

SAT Tip of the Week - Full The highest achievers on the SAT all have one thing in common, a ton of preparation time. The grand majority of these students also have another thing in common; they used their summers effectively in terms of studying for the test. This doesn’t mean that you have to hit the books 9-5 every day and effectively eliminate any possibility of a relaxing and rejuvenating summer. In fact, that type of approach would probably lead to burnout and actually be detrimental to your test performance.

Instead, planning an effective and feasible study plan for the summer is a much more fruitful approach. Most students who are taking the test in October or November are Seniors, as Juniors generally do not take the SAT for the first time until the spring of their 11th grade year. Many of the seniors who take the test in the fall are veterans of the SAT, having sat for the exam before. This means that the summer can be used to brush up on skills and review the areas of weakness that were holding students’ scores down on their earlier attempts.


One of the best ways to take advantage of the extra time in summer is to schedule a consistent vocabulary session each day. These do not have to be extremely time intensive, as long as you dedicate 15-30 minutes on a daily basis to learning new words and reviewing old ones. Vocabulary is the one thing you can absolutely memorize for the test, and if you actually put in the time it is like picking up free points. Unfortunately, most students during the school year have a finite amount of time and decide to prioritize other elements of the test. During the summer, this is not an issue and you can use the extra time to really hone your vocabulary skills. Not only are there 19 sentence completion questions that are directly related to vocabulary, but there are also tremendous benefits on the essay and within the passage based section that come with learning your vocabulary.


Another great thing to do during the summer is to review your score report, and identify the specific areas of weakness on your test. On the College Board website, go to the advanced report which tells you how you fared in different sub sections of each subject. If data and operations seemed to be an area that you struggled with in the mathematics section, then you should dedicate study sessions to doing more practice problems and reviewing the strategies associated with that topic. The same could be said about understanding the main idea in passage based reading or identifying apples to apples comparison problems in the writing mechanics section.


Finally, the summer is the perfect time to work on crafting a stellar essay. If you aren’t in English class during the summer and actively writing, your sentence composition and overall essay writing ability might temporarily flounder. A good way to counteract this and stay sharp is to set aside an hour a week to writing two practice essays. This will allow you to perfect your essay template and get comfortable with explaining strong examples in your body paragraphs.

All in all, summer is a great time to jump ahead on the SAT. Using an hour or two a day or even every other day, will pay major dividends when the test rolls around and summer ends. 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.