Preparing for the SAT doesn't have to be scary. By approaching it properly, you can head into your test date confident and ready for the exam ahead. To start getting ready for your SAT, here are some steps you need to take.
Understand the Basics of the SAT
The SAT includes sections on Math, Reading, and Writing and Language. The exam takes place over approximately 3 hours, and will test you on reading comprehension, vocabulary in context, grammar and language structure, algebra I and II, and limited geometry and trigonometry. The math actually has two sections: 20 questions without a calculator and 38 questions with a calculator.
There is also an optional essay, which will add another 50 minutes to the test if you decide to sit for this portion. This section presents a primary source (for example, a magazine article, speech, or letter) for you to read, and asks you to write an essay showing how the source's author constructed a persuasive argument.
Create a Study Schedule
It can be easy to burn yourself out studying for the SAT, but planning ahead can help you avoid this issue and properly prepare for the exam. You'll want to create time for practice exams, reviews of the completed tests, reading, studying, and, of course, breaks. You shouldn't study for the SAT each and every day, as you want to be sure you have time for the other responsibilities in your life, but be sure to devote enough time each week to properly prepare for your test date.
Take Practice Exams
Taking practice exams is one of the most important aspects of preparing for the SAT. This is how you will get a feel for the test ahead of you and learn exactly where your strengths and weaknesses lie. The SAT isn't like other tests you've taken in high school. You shouldn't go into it cold or simply rely on what you learned in class. Practice tests are the only real way to know exactly what to expect.
Identify and Work on Your Weaknesses
Once you've taken a practice SAT, it's a good idea to review your work. Score it as if it were the real deal. This will help you identify your weaker areas on the test. If you found yourself struggling with the math section, for example, you know you'll have to focus more energy in the coming weeks on that subject.
Practice tests can also help you narrow down the topics within a subject you're having trouble with. You might find that you are taking too long on data analysis questions or that you need a bit more work in reading comprehension.
But Don't Forget About Your Strengths
While a practice exam definitely helps you identify your weaknesses, you don't want to ignore your strengths either. Devote time to keeping your skills honed so you don't find them lacking later on. You'll just want to dedicate more time to your weaker areas than your stronger.
And Take More Practice Exams
Once you felt you've studied enough, it's time to take another practice SAT. After, review your work again and see how you've improved. Did you do better with data analysis? About the same? Did you perform poorly in another area of the exam? Each practice exam will provide direction for your future study sessions.
However, you don't want to take practice exam after practice exam without breaks in between. You absolutely need study time between each session. If you don't take the time to understand where and why you went wrong with a subject, you won't improve.
Learn Time Management Skills
One area some students struggle with is completing each SAT section within the time limit. Therefore, time management skills are a must for these exams. When taking the practice tests, always time yourself with the exact same amount of time you'd have during the real test.
Although it can be stressful, completing the sections within the allotted time can help show you where you need to speed up. You will only have so much time for each question in a section, so practice under the constraints will help you get comfortable with the time limits.
Work with a Tutor
If you find yourself struggling with a subject, just can't seem to get a good handle on the SAT, or want your best score possible, it's a good idea to work with an SAT tutor. Tutors can help guide you in the right direction and help hone your studying techniques so you can approach the test the right way. All students have their own way of learning—a fact a good tutor understands. With the help of a professional, many students find their scores improve with each test.
Take Online Classes
Online courses can also be a valuable resource in preparation for the SAT. Subject matter tested on the SAT, like critical thinking and basic test taking strategies, aren't always taught in the high school classroom. However, with an online class dedicated to the SAT, you can understand the skills you need for the exam and how best to approach it.
Use Other Studying Materials
Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of study materials available to students. From YouTube videos to webinars to e-books, you can use these resources to be properly prepared for the SAT come test date. Part of the preparation is finding the studying techniques that work best for you.
Don't Burn Yourself Out
A good reminder: don't burn yourself out when it comes to SAT prep. Starting your studying ahead of time can help you avoid late nights. And never pull an all-nighter just before your exam. A good night's sleep and a healthy meal will help you go into the SAT with the energy you need to complete it.
These are some great starting points to help you get prepared for your SAT. Practice exams, study schedules, and study materials and resources are all valuable ways to work towards your best SAT score yet.