How to Cram for the SAT
Normally students should give themselves at least a few months to study for the SAT. It honestly takes about that much time to become familiar with each of the SAT's three sections.
However, we all know that sometimes students wait a little bit too long before they start really hitting the books. So if you've only got a little time left before the test, you need to focus on these quick strategies.
Understand the Test Structure and Question Styles: First, you'll need to get familiar with the structure of the test. Use the free SAT Study Guide as well as the College Board website at collegeboard.org. Remember, there are three sections of the SAT -- Writing, Math, and Reading--and the questions types vary in each section. You will need to understand each type (or style) of question. The Study Guide will help.
Buy the SAT Study Book: We recommend that you buy The Official SAT Study Guide published by the College Board. These folks administrator the SAT, so this guide contains great sample tests that are really close the actual questions you will encounter on the test.
Make a SAT Study Plan: This doesn't need to be anything complicated, but you need to schedule your time because SAT prep can be boring for most folks. The most important thing to remember is to divide your time among the three sections of the test and have a plan of when you're going to study each section. If you only have four days to study, you might study math one night, reading the next, writing on the third, and all three on the last day.
Plan for the SAT Math Section: For math study, your main goal should be to make sure you're familiar with all types of questions where you may need extra focus. Open your book to the first test and start going through the math sections, doing as many problems as you can. You may want to focus on easy problems or difficult ones based on your ability, but make sure that you do at least a one or two from each difficulty level. Lastly, don't forget to do at least two of the full 25-minute sections.
Plan for the SAT Writing Section: For writing study, you need to understand the essay format and each different type of multiple choice question. If you have time, practice the essay. Then, go through each type of multiple choice question. Look at your answers and try to focus on the grammar or structural issues that are difficult for you. The multiple choice questions aren't usually complicated in the writing section, but errors can be easy to miss. Don't forget, keep time as you practice. You want to have a good sense of how much time is allowed in each section.
Plan for the SAT Reading Section: For reading study, time yourself and work on the full sections. Anyone can read and answer questions, but remember that the SAT is mostly about digesting and finding information quickly. Don't spend tons of time reviewing your answers. That extra time is best spent practicing other those sections.
Also remember that guessing is OK on the SAT. Think speed but keep in mind that SAT questions are typically easier in the front of each section and get progressively more difficult as you progress.
Ready, Set, Go: Now it's time to tackle the SAT. So now, after months of practice, all the flashcards, and maybe even an expensive test behind you, it's time to totally freak out!
But, seriously, it doesn't have to be that stressful.
These quick tips can help you to have a painless testing experience.
Get Prepared, Then Chill Out: The last days and nights before the test, it's normal to be nervous. However, the SAT is one of the many times in your life when you'll be able to use all that energy to really do great work! However, the more you can relax, the better off you'll be.
Make sure that you have everything you'll need. Bring many pencils, a calculator with good batteries, water, and something to eat.
Make sure to take the night before the test to relax. Eat something healthy, watch a favorite movie, and veg-out on the couch. Skip the partying for a night.
"Wear really comfortable clothes and listen to music that relaxes your body but energizes your mind," says Jim Andrews, a University of California student. "For me, I always listen to Mozart before a big test because studies have shown that Mozart can actually boost your test scores."
But you can't plan for everything. If you forget something, don't stress. "I suddenly realized that I didn't have a calculator when I arrived," says Melissa Sims, a high school senior from Davis, CA. "There weren't any extras either. However, I remained calm, and as it turned out, I didnít really need a calculator after all."
Capture All That Built-Up Energy: The SAT is long and that you'lll likely be taking the test for over four hours. The SAT can be tough for even those with great mental endurance. So use these time-proven techniques to help sustain you through the entire morning.
"A good night's sleep the night before is crucial," says Jimmy West, a student at Texas A&M. "What you eat the next morning will also make a difference. I ate eggs and oatmeal, which provides a good balance of protein and complex carbohydrates. This balance is important to build your energy but also to avoid the crash that can come from eating too many simple sugars. So avoid high-sugar energy drinks, bring a healthy snack, and a mildly caffeinated beverage just in case you need it."
When you are offered time to take a bathroom break, take it. Even if you donít need to go, use this time to stretch and move around. You want to keep your blood pumping and avoid the cramps and drowsiness that can come with extended periods of sitting in one position.
Give Yourself a Hand: You made it! The test is behind you. Now you can take a few minutes to think about the test. If you plan on taking it again, ask yourself, "What would I have done differently? What worked and what didn't?"
Don't worry so much about which individual questions you got right or wrong. Celebrate being done! Enjoy the "post-test" period, relax, and even if you think that you bombed it, remember that you're not alone.
"When I first took the SAT, I was glad when it was over, but I wasn't happy with my performance," says Howie Roark, a freshman at NYU. "So after the test, I just took it easy and reflected on the experience. When I took the test for the second time, it felt like a lot of the pressure was off and I knew what to expect. That perspective really helped."
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