In a month from now, the first August SAT will be administered. The benefits of having the test right at the end of summer couldn’t be clearer: students who have spent months in test prep classes or tutoring now have a chance to freshly apply their skills and knowledge without getting caught up in the brisk pace of high school.
Whether you spent your every waking minute this summer with an SAT practice test or you have only begun to consider how best to approach the test, here are some key tips to make your studying much more efficient.
Tip #1: Maintain a consistent study schedule.
Preparing for a test is similar to learning a new language. You have to understand how the test makers are quizzing you and what they ultimately focus on when determining correct answers. While it may be straightforward, to some degree, on the Math sections, Critical Reading and Writing follow formulas that are not usually clear until you’ve delved into several practice tests--or until you’ve been instructed by a tutor or in a class. Therefore, the consistent study schedule is your way of keeping up with the “language” of the test and making sure you are fluent when August 26 rolls around.
Tip #2: Take at least one full practice test, preferably two, or even three.
It’s great that most students can complete a few passages or problems here and there, but you won’t really know how well you’re going to do on the SAT unless you sit down and take the entire test, simulating the testing conditions as much as possible. Get someone--like a parent--to help you administer the test at home, or if you need more quiet, go to a library or a study space at your school. You’ll need to time yourself for each section and give yourself breaks in between the sections, so have a stopwatch or phone clock!
The key is that you actually practice the conditions that you will be in when you take the official exam. Ideally, you’d practice throughout the week and then take the exam in its full form at the end of the week. With a month remaining, you could realistically take three simulated tests on Friday or Saturday, saving your energy for light practice and study for the week before the official exam.
Tip #3: Study your errors.
A crucial part of any practice is that you not only get familiar with the test but you also truly understand why you get answers incorrect. Students often are very bright and understand the material but there is a disconnect between what they know and understand and how the test presents information. By studying your errors, you not only build confidence in yourself and realize that you are competent but also understand further the “language” and tricks of the test. Barreling forward with study and only checking to see if you are right or wrong will lead to similar mistakes.
While there is only a month left to prepare for the first August SAT, there is still plenty of time to start studying and even brush up on concepts that you’ve learned and relearned over the summer. At B2A, we are entering the final two weeks of our summer test-prep intensive program for SAT and we have tutors who can work with you 1-1 to pinpoint weak areas and help you master your skills. Make the most of August, so you can set your whole school year off on the right foot!