In high school, you revel in the joy of being able to spend time with friends, attend Friday night football games, and participate in extracurricular activities. One aspect of your high school career, however, doesn’t quite add so much excitement. We’re talking about preparing for the SAT. With proper preparation and effective studying methods, you are capable of knocking this test out of the park.
Administered by College Board, the SAT evaluates your skills in reading, writing, and mathematics under a limited time period. The ACT, another standardized college entrance exam, follows the same study preparation as the SAT, and covers English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.
But when it comes to standardized tests, it only comes down to one thing: how well you prepare.
Here are 5 easy ways to prepare for the SAT:
1. Practice, practice, practice.
This is the first step in preparing yourself for the SAT. One of the most preeminent ways you can study for the SAT is by getting familiar with the test’s structure and time limit. Prepare for the test by signing up for SAT classes at your high school or nearby learning centers. During these SAT prep classes you will be taught the different forms of questions, the type of vocabulary and mathematical questions to familiarize yourself with, and how to perform under a time pressure.
In your spare time, study from SAT books and go through a few questions each day. For on the go help, you can subscribe to College Board’s Question of the Day via email, or download SAT review apps such as Princeton Review’s SAT Vocab Challenge by Modality or Kaplan’s SAT Flashcubes by Jirbo, Inc.
2. Do a run-through.
Then do it again, and again, and again… Reviewing practice questions is vital to your SAT preparation, but simulating the test in its entirety can prove to be extremely beneficial as well. A huge struggle that SAT test takers face is the dreaded time limit. By simulating the SAT, you can learn how to pace yourself and see which sections of the test you need work on.
Practice by signing up for the PSAT to get a real feel for the test. Learn how to deal with the pre-test jitters and pressure of taking a standardized test. Plus, you’ll receive your score and evaluation to see where you stand. Or if you don’t have access to the PSAT, find a quiet place at home and go through a timed run through of the test.
3. Know the test.
The SAT isn’t your average test. You are awarded points for getting the right answer; however, you don’t always lose points for getting an incorrect answer. This is why knowing the rules of the test is so important. In a situation where you are unsure of the answer on the math section, it may be worth it to guess any answer because no points will be subtracted for an incorrect answer. Also, SAT questions are ascending in order of difficulty, excluding the critical reading section. With this knowledge, you can learn to strategize by not spending so much time with questions at the beginning of the section, allowing you sufficient time to answer the following questions.
4. Read up!
The critical reading section incorporates a great deal of reading comprehension and vocabulary under a limited time period, which makes reading on a daily basis imperative to your SAT preparation. You’ll be expected to read passages, analyze analogies, evaluate the author’s assumptions, and be familiar with a wide range of vocabulary.
To practice your critical reading skills, have a book to read every night before you bed. Try classics like Wuthering Heights, The Hobbit, or Slaughterhouse-Five to challenge you. Look up the definitions of words you aren’t familiar with as you read on so you can fully comprehend what you are reading.
5. Write away.
Ah yes, the essay. This part of the SAT is commonly feared, but it could actually be a simple way to boost your overall score. Through practicing the writing of essays based on SAT essay topics, you can learn how to effectively present your ideas in a short time period.
The essay is scored based on “complexity of thought, substantiality of development, and facility of language,” according to according to College Board. The scorers also take into account the impression that your essay leaves on them. Write an essay that is unique and creative and don’t be afraid to put your own experiences into it.
For those that haven’t heard the news this past March, College Board announced that the essay will be made optional and the test will go back to the 1600-point scoring. But don’t get too excited yet, these changes won’t go into effect until 2016.
Olivia is a former student assistant in the Office of New Media for the State University of New York. She is an undergraduate direct and interactive marketing major with a minor in economics at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, NY.