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Test Study Tips

5 Easy Ways to Prepare for the SAT

Exam Study Tips SAT Test

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.

Community - Does anybody know how to study?
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.

Cat flipping through book


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.

Billy Madison - I am the smartest man alive

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.

Tommy Boy - It's called reading - top to bottom - left to right - group words together as a sentence

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.

Writing frantically


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Olivia Santo

Written by Olivia Santo

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.

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There are 6 comments

  • That’s good to know that it will be worth it to answer every question even if you have to guess it. I would think that if it doesn’t count against you, then it would be beneficial to make sure you at least throw down an answer for all the questions. I’ll have to tell that to my son who is starting to prep for the SAT.

  • I like that you suggest getting to know the test, and its rules. My son is taking the SAT at the end of the summer, and he wants to be as prepared as possible. I will keep this in mind, and start looking for an SAT prep class he can go to, to learn these things.

  • Peter Bender says:

    Link low probability behaviour to high probability behaviour…ergo, reward yourself after studying for the SAT
    Set aside a specific time each day to work on preparing for the SAT , then reward yourself by doing what you would rather do. This is called the Premack Principle and it works!
    From 7:00- 9:00 each weekday work on the SAT prep, then play video games, etc…

  • John says:

    I completely agree with the article that practice and reviewing practice questions is really important for preparing for the ACT. I think doing so could help you feel more prepared and confident when it’s time to take the actual SAT. My son has been stressing about taking the SAT this spring, so I think if he had some practice with a couple prep courses he’d feel much better about it.

  • Another good idea would be to start practicing as soon as possible! That way you won’t end up rushing to practice. If you allow yourself plenty of time, you can practice a bit each day. Then, as it gets closer, you can dedicate more time to studying. Hopefully that helps you to memorize everything and do your best!

  • SAT Coaching says:

    Nice article. Pytha Gurus, one of the best sat preparation coaching institute in India, encourage students to crack the sat exam.

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