The SAT is a major test and its score can significantly influence admissions officers at your university of choice. However, it is not the only influencing factor. Many college applications give just as much weight to grades and performance in extracurriculars. Ultimately, the question is how do you balance your time between studying for school, the SAT and participating in other activities.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all easy answer to this question. Every student has different strengths and weaknesses. Some students may feel confident about test taking and perform very well with little studying, other, very capable students, may feel less confident about taking tests. They need to acquire the skills necessary to remain calm and focused during the test taking, as well as knowledge of the material.
The good news is that the SAT lines up with curriculum you are already learning. As you study for your classes, you are also preparing for the SAT. The skills and knowledge you are being taught everyday in your coursework are the same skills and knowledge you will need on the SAT. However, it may be presented a bit differently than you are accustomed to on the SAT. This is what makes studying specifically for the SAT so important.
In a recent post we discussed the importance of pretesting. Pretests help prepare the brain to understand how the material will be presented on the exam and what subject areas need further solidification in the brain. Practice tests can help indicate where you need to focus your time while studying.
An article from the Huffington Post suggests that a student should take at least eight practice SAT tests before they take the real test. Students should begin this practice of taking example tests in their sophomore year.
The practice tests should be taken in a timed setting so that the test is a similar as possible to the real thing. Replicating the actual exam setting when practicing can help reduce anxiety on the day of the actual SAT.
Taking this many practice tests will help students feel comfortable with the style of the test, the content of the test, and what material needs more attention.
Don’t Try to Cram
You also need plenty of time to prepare. You cannot cram for the SAT. Preparing for the SAT requires learning test taking skills and acquiring general knowledge that can be applied on essays, as well as learning math concepts and formulas and vocabulary words. While you can be preparing for the SAT all throughout high school, you should plan at least eight weeks of focused SAT preparation, according to FastWeb. Don’t forget that winter and summer breaks are ideal times to study because you have fewer conflicting distractions.
Make a plan for your eight weeks of study. Find days when you have a chunk of free time to take practice tests. The weekend may be the best time to focus on these these tests. On days when you have an hour or two to study devote some time to working on areas you had trouble with on the practice tests. On the in between days, when you are busy, squeeze in some flash cards before or after school or during a lunch break.
As you take practice tests you can determine whether or not your scores are improving and if you should start devoting more or less time to SAT study.
You can reduce your overall anxiety about taking the SAT if you have a firm plan for preparing. Take practice tests and plan to study for at least 8 weeks before the exam. Using a test prep course can also help you develop your plan and stick to it. When you have prepared, you can enter the exam room with confidence and do your absolute best on the SAT.
Mountain View SAT Test Preparation
Mr. Test Prep strives to prepare students with his Mountain View SAT Test Preparation program. When students engage in his Mountain View SAT Test Preparation program their scores reflect the hard work and dedication put forth. Call Mr. Test Prep today and be prepared!