SAT is one of the most important tests a student can take in their academic career. Studying specifically for the SAT is important since it's designed to assess your college readiness. However, studying for the SAT is difficult, especially considering the amount of material to cover and the pressure to perform well.
You are in the right place if you are starting your SAT prep or looking to fine-tune your study strategy. This blog will explore the best ways to study effectively for the SAT. These tips and techniques will help you make the most of your study time and improve your chances of success on test day. So let's dive in.
What is SAT?
The SAT is a standardized entrance exam used for most colleges and university admissions in the United States. Many colleges require SAT or ACT scores as part of the admission process, making it a key component of your college application. Over 1 million students take the SAT college entrance exam each year.
How to prepare for SAT exams
Waiting for the last minutes to cram the course material may not cut it for SAT exams considering the vast materials to be covered. The following methods will be helpful;
What to do before the test day
- Pay attention in class
You may be wondering how paying attention in class will be helpful. Worry not, as in 2016; the SAT was changed to align more closely with classroom learning. Therefore, paying attention in class and to your teachers will be good for your SAT exams. By the time you reach junior year in the spring, you will have completed three and a half years of coursework, which should help you perform well on the SAT.
- Create a study schedule
Passing exams cant be done through magic. You will have to study to improve your SAT score. Studying is not easy, but creating a strategic study plan focusing on your strengths and weaknesses will improve your chances of excelling.
Begin by selecting the test date and then plan regular study sessions, aiming for at least 2-3 hours per week. Prioritize learning the material you haven't done well on while continuing to practice the material you've already mastered. Balancing and keeping the material fresh in your mind without burning out before test day is essential.
- Use quality preparation materials
The quality of the material you use to prepare for SAT determines the score. Some materials are not current with the learning standards, while others may contain errors that can negatively impact your score.
You can visit the official College Board website for a free SAT Study Guide, practice questions, full-length tests, and answer explanations. You will access hundreds of official SAT practice questions and video explanations on the site. Other resources that may be beneficial include top-rated SAT prep books, apps, online classes, and private tutors.
- Improve your speed of reading
Most questions test your understanding of key points from a small part of the passage. To better understand SAT questions, read and constantly practice to improve comprehension speed.
Since the exam is timed quickly, you can avoid the urge to reread sentences. Becoming a more efficient reader means more time for critical thinking and answering questions.
- Focus on the errors you can control
Although you cannot anticipate the answers to certain questions, you have power over other potential errors, such as carelessness, comprehension of the question, and time restrictions. Many students make errors during SAT exams because of time pressure. The best way to cope with this pressure is by taking a timed practice test to get accustomed to the pace and stress.
During the practice tests, set the timer for the same duration as the actual test. To improve your efficiency, you can time individual questions during practice. This will help you get comfortable with the time limit and reduce careless errors.
The test intentionally creates complexity using common mistakes such as overlooking double negatives, overusing commas, reading too quickly, or not focusing on what the question is asking. Review the different types of questions to become more familiar with the tricky language on the SAT. Be sure to pay attention to terms like "except," "least," "however," and "rather than" when answering questions.
- Read extensively
To diversify your SAT preparation, try improving your general skills. You can practice for the reading test by reading and summarizing lengthy articles and scientific studies.
To prepare for the optional essay, read editorial essays, and pay attention to how the writers present their arguments. Applying your knowledge to real-world situations is the most effective way to solidify your skills and comprehension.
- Accustom yourself with instructions for each section
The order and instructions for each section of the SAT don't change across all tests. Do not spend time trying to understand the directions on test day. You can familiarize yourself with instructions for each section before the test by using a guide to understand the expectations for the writing section.
- Take a full-length practice test
Take a full-length practice test on the Official SAT Practice website, provided by College Board. The practice test is timed the same way as the actual exam. Taking a complete official practice test and studying within two weeks of your SAT date can accurately predict your score.
Treating every full-length practice test as real is best to improve your SAT test-taking skills. Begin at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, stick to the timing rules for each section, take breaks only at designated times, and keep your phone out of sight.
Taking a practice test helps identify areas for improvement and increases your confidence by simulating the actual SAT experience.
- Rest a night before the test
It is important to rest and relax the night before the test. Engage in calm and enjoyable activities like watching a movie or playing soccer with friends to ease your mind and get in a good mood before the test, as studying at the last minute can cause stress, lower confidence, and make you feel exhausted.
Get a good night's sleep by going to bed early and getting at least 8 hours. Adjust your bedtime a little earlier each night during the week leading up to the test so that going to bed early on Friday feels natural.
What to do on the test day
- Set yourself up for success
It's important to feel prepared and rested before the SAT so you can focus on success during the test. Wake up early to give yourself plenty of time to warm up your brain. Eat a healthy breakfast to avoid hunger or discomfort during the test. An energizing drink like coffee or tea can help boost your spirits, and dress in layers to adjust to the temperature of the testing room.
Prepare your supplies in advance. You will need No. 2 pencils and a calculator to take the test. You won't be allowed into the test room without a valid photo ID and a printed copy of your SAT registration.
- Light revision
Reviewing math formulas or testing strategies before the test to stimulate your brain is beneficial. Do not try to learn too much on the day of the test. Arrive early to avoid delays such as traffic. Remember that all the preparation that you have done has led you to this moment, so avoid trying to cheat or look for shortcuts.
- Answer the questions you know
First, answer the questions you know in the section. This will save you more time to focus on the challenging questions. Skipping the questions you find challenging and may take more time to comprehend is advisable. You can note it in your test booklet to revisit it later.
- Answer questions through elimination
When you are not aware of the correct answer and your only option is to guess, try eliminating answer choices you know are wrong to improve your chances of guessing correctly. This will narrow your options and increase your chances of selecting the correct answer.
Identifying the incorrect answers can sometimes be simpler than identifying the correct ones. Even when you're uncertain about the correct answer, you may be able to exclude some answer choices by considering the context of the question.
- Strive to answer the questions
Answer all the questions on the test. Allocate some time to return to any questions you may have skipped, and don't hesitate to make an educated guess if you're running out of time. By guessing, you have a 25% chance of getting the answer right, whereas if you leave it blank, you won't get any points. Remember that you won't lose points for incorrect answers, and your score will be based solely on the number of correct answers.
- Take the SAT many times
While many assume that taking the SAT is a one-time event, students often take it multiple times to improve their scores. Research has shown that retaking the test can result in better outcomes because you are better familiarized with it during the second attempt and have worked on the areas you struggled with earlier. Sadly, retaking the SAT means paying the complete test fee again, but individuals meeting the College Board's eligibility criteria can get a fee waiver.
While we have created a great study program for the SAT, unfortunately, Khan Academy cannot study for you. The biggest challenge when preparing for the SAT is to find a suitable study schedule that works best for you. Before deciding on a study plan, consider your preferences, SAT goals, and resources. Starting your SAT prep early, about three months before your test, is recommended so you have enough time to try different study methods and become familiar with the test content.