The SAT is one of the most important tests that you can take in your high school career. Achieving a high score can help you get into your college of choice and provide essential financial aid options for you and your family. Considering the test’s significance, it’s well worth your time to invest in a studying strategy. And to perform at your very best on the big day, here are seven tips for preparing to take the SAT.
1. Start Preparing Well in Advance
You’re not going to dramatically boost your test score by trying to cram at the last minute. In fact, that could actually hurt your performance. The best way to study for the SAT is to start months in advance and commit a set amount of time prepping each day. It’s estimated that 40-hours of studying can improve your test score from around 70 to 130 points, which shows that consistent effort can pay off on test day.
2. Study the Right Materials
Your current high school classes may not focus on the materials that will be on the SAT. And with large sections on reading, algebra I and II, geometry, writing and language skills, and essay questions, it’s essential to study materials that are directly related to the test subjects.
3. Take Practice Tests and Sample Questions
Many sites have practice tests and sample questions similar to what you’ll see on the SAT, including College Board. Be sure to use these resources frequently so that you can test yourself using the right material.
4. Develop Your Weaknesses
While it might feel good to test yourself on subjects that you’re good at, it’s not helpful to take practice tests on the same subjects over and over again. Instead, pay particular attention to areas that give you trouble and then devote your time to studying those specific topics. Being well-rounded is crucial for a high SAT score, and you’ll perform better if you spend your days developing your weaknesses instead of patting yourself on the back.
5. Take Breaks
It’s easy to burn out when you’ve been studying day after day. And if you’re not taking the time to relax and unwind, your performance could start to suffer. If you’re feeling mentally exhausted from test prep, try going for a walk or watching some TV. Take a day off from studying and books and hang out with a few friends. You’re likely to come back feeling refreshed and ready for your next round of studying.
6. Simulate Real Test Situations
If you consistently take practice tests at your own pace, you won’t be ready for the limited amount of time on test day. And to correctly prepare for the SAT test room, try using a stopwatch once a week to give yourself a timed practice test. This will train you to answer questions quickly and give you an accurate look at your test question pace.
7. Sleep Well
Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep the night before a test can result in higher test scores. Ideally, you should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, especially the night before the SAT. And if nerves or feelings of anxiousness usually keep you from falling asleep, try going to bed an hour or so earlier to rest up for the big day.