I will not lie to you – preparing for the SAT can be extremely stressful. First, you must discover which method of learning fits you best. Secondly, you must read reviews, and purchase the right books. And finally, you must have the patience and perseverance to include practicing in your daily routine.
With all this being said, having a plan when studying for the SAT is crucial. You never know what reaction you might have when the actual test day comes, so you must be prepared really well.
To do that, you should first understand the structure of the test. It is divided into three parts: Critical Reading, Writing, and Mathematics. Each of these sections has between 200-800 points.
Because the test itself can be truly challenging, I’d say you should give yourself time to prepare for it. Of course, each student is different, so your results depend strictly on your productivity rate. Take a look at the following plan on how to ace your SAT test!
How to Prepare for the SAT
Months One to Three
In the first three months, you should figure out what your skills are. So test yourself! Are you good at Math, but really bad at Writing? Then you might have to keep a journal and complete it daily. Are you really bad at Math? Make sure you practice daily, and keep a log book of Math scores to keep track of your evolution. Focus on your weakest areas, and make a plan according to your needs.
If you don’t figure out what type of learning method you need, you’d better take a personality test and find out. There are a lot of learning methods available for you, the only thing you need to do is find the right one. Some people use flashcards, other people keep a vocabulary notebook. Some work on parts separately, others prefer taking 4h-tests daily. It really depends on you.
Therefore, this is what you will want to do in the first 3 months. Concentrate on finding a good learning method for you, and figure out what parts you should work on the most.
Months Four to Nine
It’s time for revision, and practice, practice, practice. Write as much as you can, learn as many words per day as you can, solve as many math problems as you can. After each SAT practice session, take a look back on your mistakes and write them down. Make sure you keep track of them – otherwise, how would you know how to improve?
By now, you should already know that there is more than one choice available for you. Of course, take tests and practice new words, but don’t forget about the alternatives. In order to improve your reading scores, you can read books, magazines, or even watch movies. Then write reviews about them, and correct your spelling mistakes by hand. That is a great way to learn.
For Math, you can make up songs to remember the formulas, or flashcards. Make your learning process easier by finding what works for you.
P.S – a great method to learn words faster is playing Quizlet for SAT words online. Take a look at this awesome, useful resource!
Months Ten to Twelve
The final months before the exam should be mainly focused on revising everything that you have learned by now; and by revising, I mean knowing everything perfectly. You don’t know how you’ll react when you walk into the exam room. You might panic and become anxious. That is why you need to know everything by heart by the time you enter that room.
In the meantime, you should work on your weaknesses as much as possible. Remember! Do not neglect the other parts of the test only because you’re confident on your skills. That might be tricky. Make sure you revise everything, even the parts where you feel the most comfortable.
There’s a tendency among students to only revise the parts they are not good at. Wrong! That is misleading, and a misconception. Make sure you revise everything, I repeat it.
Start taking a lot of tests, and follow the standard procedure. If the break between parts is 20 minutes, do not take 22 minutes of break, or 25. Time it! Make sure you stay on time so when the exam comes, you are more than used with the routine.
Also, try not to eat or move during the practice exam. You won’t have the chance to do so while you are in the designated SAT room, so don’t do it now either. It will only give you a false impression of coping with tiredness, when in fact, you should understand how long and tiring the test is. You should know what to expect.
If you haven’t revised everything by the last week before the exam, don’t bother doing it now. It will most likely charge your memory with confusing, new facts – that might actually make you lose focus on the other areas of the exam. Thus, be confident, and relax a night before the exam. Do some exercise, take a hot shower, and have a light dinner. Wake up feeling ready to take the exam!
After the SAT test
Now that you’ve taken the exam, you must be prepared to begin a new chapter of your life. Remember that this is just the beginning. You are going to have multiple college exams in the future, and you’ll have to face them courageously too. Anyhow, as important as they are, do not let them overwhelm you, or even take over your life.
The best way to ace the SAT is to begin early. One year of hard work will eventually pay off. Make sure you concentrate on your tasks, and practice as much as you can. Find your own method of learning, and keep up the good work. I am sure you are going to do great. Good luck, my friend!