It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to endure months of SAT preparation, and some SAT preparation tips are certainly in order for any student looking to prepare themselves to sit for their SAT, ACT, or both in some cases. There are certainly a lot of good tips out there on how to prepare, but not all are what they’re cracked up to be.
Here are some of the best SAT preparation tips that are proven to work after years of experience from Testive SAT prep coaches and successful test-takers.
Bite The Bullet Retake The SAT
Everyone wants to nail it the first time out and not have to worry about it again, but very few do and as a result, students should PLAN to retake the SAT. This is a massive benefit on two very important levels.
First of all, since so many people have a hang-up on how they score, planning to retake it regardless of outcome results in less stress not only during the test phase but also the prep phase. As a result, the information will be better retained as a relaxed student is a better student.
Secondly, a lot of students worry about their test performance. That will naturally lead to test anxiety for test-takers who are convinced that only the first attempt matters. The truth is that scoring well matters, not on which attempt one scores well. That’s exactly why study after study has shown that people who take the SAT a second time tend to outscore people who only take it once. Nerves have calmed, focus is gained and there’s the confidence of having faced it before.
That leads to a higher score the second time out.
Slow and Steady SAT Prep Is Better Than Cramming
Cramming doesn’t lead to real academic success in any other area of application and it also doesn’t lead to success when it comes to SAT prep. Time and time again, and study after study shows that the “cram” method of studying doesn’t actually lead to higher scores. It leads to greater test anxiety, mental overload and furthermore, only prepares a person to regurgitate the information around the test period.
The crammer forgets the material soon after. However, the low-and-slow method of preparation – a moderate amount of time, every day for as long as possible – tends to not only retain, but actually comprehend the material. Plan for 100 hours of test prep.
Reduce Stress And Lessen Test Anxiety
One of the biggest killers of performance is text anxiety. There are otherwise brilliant students sitting for exams somewhere around the world right now who test poorly due to testing anxiety.
To combat this, students should prep over a long enough period to learn the subject areas that have the biggest impact on their total score, but not too long to become idle. Three to four months is plenty, and 100 hours of total prep is ideal. As a result, they’ve been immersed in the world of the test for plenty of time.
Learning stress management also helps, as does getting sufficient rest during study and the night prior to the exam. Anything that can help a student relax or be confident helps.
Let An SAT Coach Instruct; Parents Should Cheer From The Sidelines
Take A Practice SAT Early
Take a practice SAT or other practice exam as early as possible; ideally at the start of a prep program. This lets a student know where they stand. Furthermore, a prep coach will be able to tailor a study regimen to best help the student improve. Additional practice exams should be taken along the way as well.
Ideally, practice tests will be as long as the real exam. You don’t think you can learn to master a three-hour test with a 20-minute quiz, do you?
Read As Much As Possible
The largest part of any test is discerning what the question is asking, and there’s no better way to improve on that skill than reading.
Fast In, Slow Out With SAT Questions
Bring A Good Calculator
A quality calculator is a lifesaver. The Texas Instruments graphing series, for instance, is excellent, and has been a mainstay in college and advance high school mathematics for decades…for good reason. It’s an investment that will pay dividends.
None of these tips will guarantee a perfect 1600. However, they will definitely help a person achieve it if they prepare adequately, believe in themselves, and are rested, relaxed and confident come test day.
Tom Rose is the co-founder and CEO of Testive, an online SAT and ACT prep company. Tom started Testive at MIT, after spending years as a highly paid private SAT and ACT tutor, to provide students with personalized, efficient, and affordable test prep.