When you’re in high school, one of the most important exams you’ll take is the SAT. You’re expected to take this test (or the ACT) during junior or early senior year. You also have the option of taking the PSAT, or pre-SAT, even earlier. But not to worry! The good news is you can start preparing for these exams now with some simple implementations using the classes you’re already taking. Here are three helpful tips to help you prepare for the SAT early in your high school career.
1. Enhance your analysis and grammar skills
The SAT Reading section contains about five passages with multiple choice questions that pertain to details about what you read. These passages often include works of fiction, political and social documents, and social and hard science articles. A lot of the questions will require you to analyze the passages thoroughly. To be successful in this section, you must train your brain to understand what they’re trying to convey. The Writing portion of the SAT includes four passages that range in difficulty grammatically. The multiple-choice questions that go with these require your knowledge of general grammar and punctuation rules as well as how to put sentences together. To do well with these, memorizing rules and applying them when practicing are key.
You’re likely already practicing for both of these sections in English class without even realizing it. Put in a little extra effort in this class knowing it’ll help you on your test later. Make sure to review your notes from class and rewrite them if necessary for better understanding. Complete any practice questions your teacher gives you, and review what you missed on quizzes and tests. During your review, pay attention to the reasoning behind the questions and make note of the specific curriculum topics they align with so you can research them more. Also get tutoring if you need extra practice with why certain rules apply. Overall, the questions you see on English class assignments are typically like those that will appear on the SAT.
Related: English Grammar Cheat Sheet for Students
2. Work on your basic math rules, formulas, and problem types
A lot of students worry about the SAT Mathematics section, so knowing what you’ll be tested on and how to approach it will help you tremendously. In the Math section, you’ll find word problems, algebra, data analysis, and other topics. It’s then split further into two subsections with calculator and no calculator, and while the majority of questions are multiple choice, you will have to fill in answers as well. To make this section easier for you, you should know the basic rules for solving different kinds of problems and try to memorize the formulas you may need to use.
Start preparing by reviewing topics you’ve covered already in your math classes. This will refresh your mind and show you what topics you may need more work on. It may also prove helpful to look up and complete sample SAT Math questions online, as this can give you an idea of what you‘ll see on the exam. You can best prepare for this section by practicing a small portion every day and multiple topics per week so you can cover as much material as possible. If you need extra help with a certain topic, look into online tutorials, getting a math tutor, or working with your teacher after school.
3. Put it all together with practice exams and SAT resources
When preparing for the SAT, putting your best effort in comprehending your classwork will serve you well. Class assignments are one of the best resources you can use to study for the exam. But aside from in-class work, completing practice tests or past exams also helps significantly. Many practice tests can be found on the official College Board website, and copies of tests from previous years may be posted on other websites as well. You might also consider purchasing test prep books that contain more specific information on the exam.
The structure of the SAT doesn’t change drastically from year to year, so make note of the types of questions you see on old tests. You’ll likely find the question formats are similar, which will enable you to focus on strategies to answer specific types of questions. Keep track of your practice test scores and closely review any missed questions. Plan out specific review days when your test date gets closer, but be sure to only review a few topics per day so you can remember what you’ve studied without overloading yourself.
Related: 5 Great Ways to Prepare for the SAT
While the SAT can be quite scary to think about, it’s important to start preparing early and stay positive as you do. Remember that the more time and effort you put into reviewing and practicing, the more success and higher scores you’ll have.
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