5 ways to prepare for the SAT

By Madison Hallett
11/03/2015
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With SAT season approaching and the new SAT coming out in March 2016, studying should be on your to-do list. Though the new SAT may seem a little daunting — as it’s uncharted waters — it has actually been designed to be more practical. The new SAT has been made to test your educational strengths, not how fast you can guess. But because the old SAT will still be used until March, here are five easy tips for how to study for the SAT — new and old — stress-free!

1. Take SAT practice tests

A number of educational websites including The College BoardUnigo, and Khan Academy provide practice tests for the SAT. These tests allow you to familiarize yourself with the structure of the actual SAT, as well as the types of questions you will be asked. Use these practice tests to your advantage. Do them regularly, like homework, and learn how to manage your time. You can take them at home, or have them printed for study groups. These tests are easily accessible online and are NOT a waste of time.

2. Practice writing essays

Though the new SAT does not require you to write an essay, the old one still does. Creating a well-written and creative essay can take time, which is why preparing yourself for the essay is important. What is your writing process? How will you get your creative juices flowing? Does creating a brief outline help before you start writing, or do you prefer winging it? Figure out how long it takes you to write a decent essay and keep practicing until you are within the time constraint — or until your hand starts cramping.

3. Memorization = quicker performance

In the math section of the SAT, you can often use a calculator, and might even be given some of the geometric formulas. That being said, do not rely on them! Memorizing the formulas, such as area = length x width, will save yourself a lot of time and make solving the problems easier. The same goes for mental math: do it in your head! If you already know your multiplication tables, don’t reach for your calculator, it will only waste time.

4. Learn and use a new word each day

It is really easy to broaden your vocabulary by learning one new word a day. If you’re not sure what words you should be learning, the study guides and practice tests usually provide a list of words that you should know for the SAT. When learning a new word, memorizing the definition is certainly important, but so is understanding the word. Just because you can recite Merriam-Webster’s definition off the top of your head doesn’t mean you fully understand the meaning of the word, so make sure to practice using new words in your daily life.

5. Designate time for SAT prep

When studying for the SAT, make sure you carve out at least an hour, two to three times a week, for test prep. Don’t start studying the night before! Set aside time each week for every subject covered in the SAT. Even though you may think math is more fun, don’t neglect the other subjects. Memorize those formulas, practice your essay writing, and strengthen your vocabulary each week. The earlier you begin studying, the easier and less stressful the test will be.

Make sure you not only prepare yourself by studying, but also by taking care of yourself. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the test, eat a big breakfast the morning of, and get there early!

Start preparing for the SAT early and use Unigo Test Prep to achieve your highest score.

About the author

Madison (Mattie) is a sophomore at Colby-Sawyer College, majoring in creative writing and minoring in art history. Very involved in theater and music, her love for piano is almost as strong as her Vermont pride.

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