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10 ways to prepare for the SAT


Tests are a normal part of a student’s life. You’ve probably taken tests that you didn’t prepare well enough for, or you’ve stayed up all night studying for a very important exam. Nevertheless, tests will always be a part of a student’s life. And one of the most important tests that you will be taking is the SAT.

SAT scores can be one of the important factors that determines which college you’ll be attending. But the good news is: there are many ways to prepare for it. Here are 10 ways that you can get ready for the SAT:

1. Familiarize yourself with the SAT

10 ways to prepare for the SAT

The SAT is an entrance exam for most universities and colleges in the US. This test measures the student’s readiness for college. Hence, the higher your SAT score is, the more options you have for universities and colleges.

The test consists of two primary sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, while the third section, Essay, is optional. The entire test takes up to 3 hours, and an additional of 50 minutes if you choose to take the Essay.

The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section contains two parts: Reading test, and Writing and Language test. On the day of the exam, the Reading test will come first, which takes 65 minutes. It is followed by the Writing and Language test which takes 25 minutes. There will be a 10-minute break in between the two tests.

The Math section also has two parts, a No-Calculator test and a With-Calculator test. The first part, No-Calculator test, takes 25 minutes while the second part takes 55 minutes.  There will be a 5-minute break in between. 

If you opt to take the Essay part of the test, a 2-minute break will be given after the last part of the Math section.

2. Set a score goal

10 ways to prepare for the SAT

Once you’ve had an understanding on how the SAT works and which colleges or universities you plan to apply, setting a target score will help you plan your preparation.

Each section of the test is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale. This means the highest score that you could get is 1600. Meanwhile, the Essay section will receive a separate score.

3. Make your study schedule

10 ways to prepare for the SAT

Once you have a target score, planning your study schedule will be easier. Make a concrete study plan with a step-by-step guide on what you plan to study and what you want to achieve by the end.

When you are making your schedule, make sure to set the week before your scheduled exam as a week for reviewing. You also need to decide on how many times a week you want to study: will it be part of your daily routine? Or will you do it three times a week?

Again, your study schedule will depend on your score goal.

4. Learn Test Strategies

10 ways to prepare for the SAT

Knowing what to expect on the test usually is not enough, you also need to know how to take the SAT.

You should know how to manage your time. If a question is too hard for you, skip and move on to the next one, but don’t forget to get back to it once you’ve answered everything else. This will help you save your time. Remember, you will only have 3 hours to take the test and an additional of 50 minutes if you chose to do the Essay.

Another strategy you can adopt is to derive the correct answer by eliminating wrong answers. You shouldn’t leave any questions blank as that is a total waste of opportunity even if you do not know the right answer right away.  You can enter a best guess through the process of elimination.

5. Do lots of reading

10 ways to prepare for the SAT

To prepare for an hour-long of heavy reading in the SAT reading test, you can read a lot of books, magazines, or even newspapers in your free time. This trains you to be really comfortable with reading materials in English if you are not a native speaker of the language. Also, frequent reading will make you a fast reader, for sure.

6. Review grammar lessons

10 ways to prepare for the SATMost of the Verbal section contains questions on grammar. Reviewing your grammar lessons will be a great help during the SAT, especially if you plan to answer the Essay section.

7. Study!

10 ways to prepare for the SAT

As I said earlier, this is a really important entrance test for most colleges and universities in the US. So, you can't avoid the hard work and the main part of your preparation, that is to STUDY really hard for it.

But studying shouldn’t be boring, you can join a study group which meets frequently. This may keep you motivated and you could also help out each other with tips and shortcuts in the study group.

8. Practice, practice, practice

10 ways to prepare for the SATThey say "Practice makes perfect", it is definitely true when it comes to test and exam preparation.  There are SAT practice tests available online, some of them are free of charge. 

I would suggest that you complete one set of the exam practice questions at the beginning of your study as a benchmark. When doing the practice tests, you should challenge yourself by setting a timer per section. This way, you’ll train yourself to answer all the questions while you are under time pressure.

Once you’re done with the test, check your answers and take a good look at the ones you got wrong. 

9. Don’t cram!

10 ways to prepare for the SAT

Cramming for your homework is not good but acceptable.  But cramming for a major entrance exam is not. It takes a lot of time to review all your study materials, so you need to make sure to start the preparation at least a few weeks if not months before your scheduled exam day, depending on your current level and your score goal.

10. Prepare for test day

10 ways to prepare for the SAT

It’s the big day tomorrow and you’ve done the best you can to prepare - you’ve studied for weeks and taken a lot of practice exams. Now, what you need to do is to relax. It may sound counter-intuitive, but playing some ball games or catching up on some Netflix shows will let your brain rest so that it can give its best performance tomorrow.

On the day of the exam, remember to bring the things that you will need such as personal id, stationary, etc. Have a hearty breakfast and have confidence that you will do well!  

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