1) Start With a Full-Length Practice Test
Students need to take numerous full-length practice tests before taking an official exam because it allows them to improve their understanding of the test and their test-taking endurance. I recommend that students use the practice tests provided by the College Board, which are available on their website here, since these tests are written by the same people who write the official tests.
So start the preparation process with a practice test, and keep the following in mind:
- Students should take the test in a quiet room, ideally where there will be no distractions. Consider going to the local library and using one of the study rooms.
- Timing is important – the amount of time students are given for each section is on the first page of that section.
- Students are given five-minute breaks between each section during the official exam, so feel free to do the same during the practice test.
- Mark the correct answers and review the explanations for the incorrect answers. Students will be better able to improve their score if they are aware of their mistakes, so remind them to read the explanations for the questions they answered incorrectly.
There are instructions provided in the “Scoring Your SAT Test” PDF to help students calculate their SAT score for both the verbal and math sections. The first practice test provides students with their baseline score, and now they can begin improving their score systematically.
2) Watch Two Khan Academy Math Videos Per Day
The math sections on the SAT cover concepts ranging from arithmetic to geometry to trigonometry. Khan Academy has a series of videos (found here) organized by topic; in each video, the instructor reads a question, explains the concept, and solves the problem. Students should take notes on these videos, especially the videos that review complex concepts. There are a total of 82 videos in the playlist, so if students watch two videos per day, they will complete all of the videos in about six weeks.
3) Take Two Practice Sections Per Week
Students should take one verbal and one math section from a practice test each week. The first week they can take the Reading Test and no-calculator math section, and the second week they can take the Writing and Language Test and the calculator math section. They do not need to take both on the same day. Instead, I recommend spending 60 to 90 minutes taking one section and reading the explanations for each question as they grade it. They can then repeat this process for the second section on a different day later in the week.
4) Take One Full-Length Practice Test Each Month
I advise that students take a full-length practice test once a month before their first official exam because their endurance will improve, making it easier for them to stay focused during the official exam. Students will also be able to identify the concepts they need to continue reviewing. Again, students should always read the explanations to the questions they answered incorrectly. So if the students want to take the test one day and then review it the next day when they have more energy, that is completely fine.
5) Register for Two Consecutive Exams
I recommend that parents sign their students up for two exams, ideally no more than one month apart from each other (the exception would be the June exam since students begin preparing for their finals exams during this time). Leading up to the first official exam, students are reviewing many concepts. Between the first and second official exams, the students have the opportunity to focus on the handful of topics they struggled with and continue taking practice tests to stay sharp. They are usually less nervous during the second official exam, so we want students to take that exam soon after the first one.
6) Sign Up for SAT Prep
Contact us if you are interested in private tutoring or an online group course for your student leading up to the May 7th exam. Both services will also be available over the summer leading up to the late August/early September exam.