The obvious approach to use when preparing for any test, including the SAT, is to study in advance. College Board breaks out the best process for SAT prep into five categories: (i) pay attention in class throughout high school, (ii) start test preparation early, (iii) use the free SAT practice on Khan Academy, (iv) take at least one full-length practice test, and (v) know what to expect on test day.
The SAT is available seven times each year, in March, May, June, August, October, November and December. Students may take the SAT starting their freshman year. However, most take it for the first time in spring of their junior year. This is a good choice because students will have completed two years of high school studies. It also leaves fall test dates available for the student to retake the SAT if he needs to improve his score.
Pay Attention Throughout High School
SAT questions are tied to high school curriculum. It’s important to pay attention, be dedicated to learning the coursework, and ask for help whenever needed. High school students who have mastered their coursework will be well prepared for the SAT by spring of their junior year.
Start Early to Prepare for the SAT
High school students have a busy schedule. Junior and senior year students have homework, tests, extracurricular classes, sports, social activities, parties, special events, and family commitments. Select a test date that allows for 2 – 3 months of advanced test prep. Block study time in the calendar and don’t allow other activities to shift that commitment to studying. Students who start their prep early have time to identify and address topic areas of concern. They avoid having to cram at the last minute and have confidence on test day.
Study with Official SAT Practice
College Board partners with Khan Academy to offer official SAT practice resources. What’s more, the Official SAT Practice resources are free. Students receive practice plans tailored for their individual needs. There are thousands of interactive practice questions, lessons and study tips. In addition, students can take advantage of 8 full-length real practice tests.
Take a Full-Length Practice Test
Within a couple weeks of the actual test, take a full-length practice test under time parameters. Practice tests give students a reliable prediction of the score they will achieve and highlights any areas that need more practice. The best approach is to mimic test day:
- Start the practice test at 8:00am on a Saturday
- Follow section guidelines
- Take breaks at times allowed during the SAT
- Put away all distractions and items not allowed during the SAT, such as cell phones
Plan for Test Day in Advance
Ensure Kids Know Where They’re Going and How to Get There
Taking the full-length practice test offers insight into the structure, section timing, and pressure of the actual test. Students should also develop an understanding of what the test day will be like. They should know the location, directions, parking options, what time to leave, and even ensure they know where the entrance door is located if it’s the test is administered in a large building. Take the time to coordinate all of these items in advance of test day.
Stay Organized ~ Sleep Well ~ Eat a Good Breakfast
Pack necessary items the night before, including a calculator and extra batteries, car keys, a snack, water, and other essentials. Ensure kids get enough rest on the nights leading up to the test. Help your kids get ready for success by providing a good, healthy breakfast on test day.
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