How To Prepare For the SAT

Jamie McEachin

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The SAT is eminent, and students around the nation are increasingly panicked, studying (or not studying) in preparation. But while some students may feel like they’ve got their SAT prep under control, all students can benefit from some tips for the best possible testing experience.


The major thing is, of course, not waiting to study right before the test. While this is a tempting option and at times seems inescapable with other classes and obligations all too prominent, it is crucial that procrastination is not a factor in SAT preparation. “I took the SAT once, studying mainly the night before,” says Ryan McCoy, a senior at Cosby. “[But] for my second time, I took an SAT prep course.”

Taking an SAT prep course, whether offered by Kaplan, Kahn Academy, or other organizations, is something that is strongly recommended when preparing for the test. These courses will give examples of questions that students will encounter on the test and will coach them in strategies to get the best score possible.

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Another way to ensure success is to not cram the night or week before; instead, students should relax the night before the test and try to get as much sleep as possible, so they wake up fresh in the morning.

Students who completed a core curriculum in high school scored an average of 143 points higher on the SAT than those who didn’t. The College Board defines a core curriculum as including at least four English, three math, three natural sciences and three social sciences/history classes. So it is important for students to complete a core curriculum to have an advantage on the SAT.


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During the test, the most valuable and most common trick will not be a surprise- the process of elimination. In a multiple choice format, figuring out which questions are least likely to be true is the most efficient way to use time; it allows the student to prioritize what questions to focus on in the limited time they have.


But on the other hand, it is important to use all the time available when taking the SAT, so students must take their time on every question to ensure they won’t have to go back at the end of the test to answer missed questions.


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Remember, the best indicator of whether a student will succeed in college is their high school grade point average. The SAT is a weaker measure, and it’s only supposed to give colleges an idea of how applicants would perform in their first year of college.


When it’s the fateful day, and the SAT is sitting open on the desk, it is easy to freeze up. But the year-long preparation should help make sure that that feeling is quickly swept away by the confidence needed for success.