The SAT is right around the corner and we wanted to create a guide to prepping, studying, and taking the test for our high school students (don’t worry, she’s only a baby millennial, but she has lots of tips and tricks!)
Step One: What is the SAT and why do students take it?
SAT is an acronym for Scholastic Aptitude Testing. It is a comprehensive exam that high school juniors and seniors take as the first step in their college application process.
The SAT takes three hours and consists of three tests: Reading, Writing & Language, and Math.
The total test time breaks down to 65 minutes for Reading, 35 minutes for Writing & Language, and 80 minutes for Math.
This means that the entire test is 3 hours from start to finish and covers 154 questions.
Your total score is a number between 400 and 1600. The total score is the sum of the sections’ individual scores. Each of these two section scores has a possible range of 200–800.
Step Two: Register for the Test
Register as early as you can! Once you have a set date, work backward a few months to plan out your studying timeline and to break up the amount of material in bite-size chunks. Here’s the SAT site to check dates, times, and locations.
Step Three: Studying and Resources
There are hundreds of prep books so it can be overwhelming when you are starting to gather study materials.
Don’t let that overwhelm you. A great place to start is the purchase the current official SAT Prep Guide paperback for the current test season (purchase from the SAT site or Amazon). It’s written by the test writers. Khan Academy has a collaborative resource with the College Board centered around the SAT.
The best way to study is your OWN way.
Are you visual? Create flashcards or charts!
Do you learn better with audio? Grab a friend to read the questions out loud to you.
Study the way your brain likes to and use books/guides as a skeleton for understanding concepts. Focus on one section at a time for a study session. If you start with Math, stick with that subject rather than studying for everything every single session.
Take advantage of the free, full-length practice tests found on the SAT site to practice as much as possible.
Studying with a solid timeline will allow you to feel more prepared for the test without interrupting normal school and homework time.
Step Four: Time To Take the Test
The night before the test, grab extra pencils, notebook/extra paper, your calculator, and erasers. Getting your stuff the night before will eliminate any last-minute panic. Make sure to get a great night of sleep and set your alarm.
During the test, take some deep breaths and take it one question at a time. Always read every question all the way through- This seems straightforward, but you would be surprised to see that the questions ask for multiple answers or are linked.
If you are struggling with a question, circle the number and come back to it later. The SAT does not penalize incorrect answers, but leaving a question blank can hurt your score. When in doubt, choose an answer!
Tips And Tricks:
- Please eat something and hydrate– This is a long test with very few breaks, set yourself up with a good meal and plenty of water.
- Take all the practice tests that you can– Practice makes perfect and it will also allow you to experience the test environment and your comfort level.
- Utilize your social connections– Create study groups with your friends or neighbors. See where everyone’s strengths are so that you can help each other understand the material.
- Mood is a game-changer– On the day of, listen to your favorite playlist, watch a funny video, etc. Starting the day positive can really help you perform well. Remember that you got this!
- IT’S OKAY TO RE-TAKE– It is totally normal to retake the test until you feel comfortable. Many students take it 2 or 3 times before they start applying to colleges. Hint: You can take the SAT up to 12 times!
- Take some time to relax after– After you take the test, hang out with your friends or go grab lunch with your mom. Relax after all that work, you earned a breather!
**We also have a separate guide for the ACT as well**
Good luck and we are rooting for you!