Is everyone else buried in APs, prom, and other end-of-the-year craziness? My students are even more busy than usual (which didn’t seem possible.)
I know that everybody is really busy. But you still need to make time to study for the SAT test. I’ve got 4 students on my interest list that are “going to call to set up an appointment just as soon as we have time” which they have been saying since January. The next SAT is right around the corner and, surprise, they aren’t prepared for it.
But, there’s good news! The SAT is now being offered at the end of August. This is a brand new date and I think it’s going to be very popular. Kids can study for and take the test during the summer. That should give everyone a little more breathing room.
But summer will slip away if you don’t make an SAT study plan now.
Register for the next SAT test
Register for the next SAT test. Register for it now (seats are filling up quickly!)
Use official SAT practice tests
You can download and print out 8 official SAT practice tests from the College Board’s website. You’ll want to PRINT THEM OUT and use them that way. (No -looking at them on your computer screen and then marking up a bubble sheet by hand is not the same thing.)
Take a full test
Yep – that’s 3 hours of SAT at your kitchen table. No it’s not fun, but it’s the BEST way to accurately predict where you are starting from and to show you what you need to work on. Mimic the test conditions as much as possible (quiet room, 5 min break after Section 1, 5 min break after Section 3, use the bubble sheet, follow the timing guidelines exactly)
Set a goal
Research colleges you’re interested in and see what SAT scores they’re looking for. Then look at your score. How big is the gap? That should give you an idea of how much work and time it might take to reach that score.
Make a study plan
Grab your calendar and look at the next three months. Block out your work schedule, family vacations, holidays, and other commitments. You probably don’t have a full three months to study. For example, between family vacations and summer camps, I just realized I only have 6 weeks to teach instead of 12. Yikes!
How much time do you need to spend each week? Each day? Write it into your calendar! My students usually take a breather week or two after school gets out in June and then turn their attention back to the SAT (or ACT) in July.
And you don’t need 8 hours a day for 30 days. Most parents are appalled at how *little* I ask my students to study – between 2 and 4 hours a week during the summer. But it’s enough to get the scores they’re shooting for. Why study more if you don’t have to? We focus on quality over quantity. If you study the *right* things, your score will improve.
Figure out where you went wrong
Start by going over that test you took with a fine-tooth comb. Which questions did you miss? Why did you miss them? My students miss more questions by misunderstanding the question than by solving errors. (In other words, they never give me wrong answers. They give me the right answer to the wrong question. And the SAT (and ACT) only give you points for correctly answering THEIR question, not yours.)
(Pro tip: Don’t mark the right answer on your answer sheet. Just circle the question number if you missed it. Then go back to the problem and try to re-solve it. This is a much more effective way to learn from your mistakes.)
Reach out for help if you need it. Your parents, teachers, tutors, learning centers, or friends can all be a great source of content knowledge to help you figure out how to solve a tricky question. I answer questions all the time on email, my Facebook page or on Twitter.
Don’t take another practice test until you are confident you will score higher because you’ve corrected a lot of your problems the first time around.
Take another practice test
Ideally, you’d go through all 8 practice tests. You could take a full practice test every 2 weeks, leaving the other 4 tests to work through in sections.
But not everyone wants to (or has the time) to do that much work.
At the very least take two (or three!) full practice tests so you can get used to the timing and pacing of the test. (The no-calculator section of the SAT has half the questions and half the time of the calculator section, but it somehow flies by twice as fast!)
The College Board has published explanations for all the tests. But the math explanations are not as great as they could be. I’ve created better math explanations that I’m piloting with students over here.
Get started now
Do the hard work now – plan out your study schedule and stick to it. It will make the August (or Sept, Nov, or Dec) test so much easier!
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