The road to college can be a daunting venture for any teenager. Part of the process is getting ready for the SAT or ACT. Students should not be discouraged from taking the tests just because they are not naturally good test takers. If you want to get your best score, you need to develop an effective study plan.
Monday, August 2nd – 4:00-6:00 p.m. in real time online
Are thinking about taking the SAT in August or October? Join us this summer to learn about the new SAT format, get test-taking tips and work on practice questions.
You will come away with:
- Knowledge of helpful free websites to support planning for the SAT
- Useful strategies to help you get started studying for the SAT
- A packet of SAT information and helpful tips
Top Tips for Studying for the SAT or ACT
The following Tips were adapted from Aaron Golumbfskie‘s Top Ten List
- If you have a year to prepare, read, read, and read some more. Richard Bernstein, Executive Director of Huntington Learning Center (Cherry Hill and Turnersville, NJ), says this is crucial.
- Reading both fiction and nonfiction on unfamiliar subjects matters are the best way to exercise your brain for the big day. The more you read, the more content knowledge you will be familiar with and the more likely you are to recognize the various styles of reading passages used in the test.
- Practice your reading strategies while you read, like stopping after a couple of paragraphs to identify the author’s intent, evaluate the main idea and supporting details, or look up any words you don’t know.
This preparation will really help when it comes to the critical reading section where finding what you need in the text is the name of the game. Aaron Golumbfskie of Prep Matters says the reading section is more “Where’s Waldo? than Great Gatsby. Much like Waldo was always hiding in those pictures, though sometimes hard to find, the answers to all of the SAT critical reading questions are in those passages. No creativity or reading between the lines required!”
Take Practice Tests
“Practice testing is important to build the stamina and mental toughness required to be successful over the long haul.” Seasoned tutor and Education Director of PrepMatters, Aaron Golumbfskie.
- It is essential that as part of your study process that you take practice exams that simulate testing conditions as accurately as possible. This is an important strategy to learn what parts of the test are most challenging in order to know how to focus your studying. Being familiar with the format and content of the test is just part of the reason to take practice tests.
- Taking a full-length test every couple of weeks is the best way to increase your endurance. Developing strategies to deal with test exhaustion and pace are key to putting your best foot forward.
- You will also become familiar with the various sections of the test, as well as their structures and the instructions that introduce each section. Already knowing what to expect will give you a precious few extra minutes to spend actually answering questions.
Don’t listen to the rumors
There are tons of solicited and unsolicited advice when it comes to the SAT and the ACT.
- You will hear myths about how to get a higher score by always answering C or about the slacker who never turned in his homework or lifted a finger at school who got a better score than you did.
- Comparing yourself to others or competing with friends is the worst approach you can take because the SATs are all about you and what strategies work best for your type of brain. “The SAT prep industry, like the self-help book industry, is super-saturated with tips on how to be your best you. It can be difficult to cull the good from the bad, the necessary from the optional,” according to Cailey Hall.
- Stick to what you know works for you or find a tutor familiar with learning styles to help you find what will work best for you.
Study Vocabulary in Context
“Alison Johnston Rue, CEO of expert tutor website, InstaEDU, has practical advice for students looking to build their vocabulary.
- Learners do better with hands-on strategies with real-world connections. Diving into magazines like the New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, or The Economist, and reading one article a day. Alison suggests “If/when you come across a word you don’t know, create an index card with the word and its definition. At the end of each article, write up the main point of the article. Create an argument for and against the author’s point. Taking this approach is fun, interesting, and helps you prepare for both the vocabulary and reading comprehension components of the test at the same time.”
Understand the Format
- To help avoid surprises on the test day, you should know the format of each section. This will ensure you understand the directions. For example, understanding how to answer the “grid-in” section on the math test will definitely prevent mistakes and save valuable time for focusing on the question instead of how to write the answer.
- Cailey Hall from @Knewton explains one should not spend equal amounts of time on every SAT question. There are important strategies to know for each of the sections. For example, critical reading questions aren’t arranged in order of difficulty. This means you should answer detail-oriented questions (i.e. the ones that refer to specific line numbers) first. Save general questions about the passage for the end. Practicing tips like this can really make the testing process easier and improve your score by preventing you wasting time trying to figure out the best approach to the actual test itself.