Featured Image

Study Hard or Study Smart? Common Mistakes When Preparing for the SAT

There's no single perfect method for studying for the SAT, but there are certainly some wrong ways to do it. Here's a look at what you should avoid when you're cramming for the dreaded exam.

As a student, preparing for the SAT probably ranks just behind having braces and dodge ball as the least fun part about high school. So if you are going to spend a lot of time (and money) preparing, make sure you are preparing smart. Below are the top four mistakes students make when preparing for the SAT.

1. Starting too late

The SAT is a reasoning test, but it relies upon a multitude of skills and content you should have gained throughout your entire high school career. Waiting until a few weeks before the test to cram won’t allow you to build and strengthen your reasoning skills or master any of the academic concepts you need to review. Make sure you start preparing at least two to three months ahead of time to allow yourself to truly conquer any weaknesses you have.

2. Taking too many practice tests

A lot of students will prepare for the SAT by taking lots of practice tests. While this is definitely an important part of the test-prep process, just doing practice tests without taking the time to sit down and figure out where you went wrong will only provide minimal gains. You want practice tests to improve more than just your test stamina and familiarity with the exam, so look at every missed question, identify the error you made (ask a parent, teacher, or tutor for help if you need it), and then practice correctly solving similar questions.

3. Cheating during practice tests

Another big mistake students make when preparing for the SAT is not adhering to standard test-taking conditions during their practice tests. By breaking the test up into multiple pieces that you take over different days or allowing yourself a few extra minutes per section, you are only hurting yourself by not mimicking test day conditions. Taking full-length practice tests builds your brain’s ability to focus for long periods of time (known as test endurance). Furthermore, understanding the kind of mistakes you make when you are tired near the end of the exam will allow you to work to correct them. For example, towards the end of the exam, do you make mistakes solving equations in math or do you miss words when reading passages? All of these issues are easily resolved, but first you need to know that you are making them!

4. Taking a large group SAT prep class

If you’re interested in joining a large-scale test-prep course, remember that group classes often aren’t the most effective or efficient means of studying for most students. Group class curricula is centered on the concepts that the average student struggles with. The further you move away from being an “average” student, the less effective group classes are likely to be. Any bump you may see in your score after taking a group class is likely from the benefit of the mandatory practice tests—an effect that could be achieved by just taking practice tests on your own and saving your money!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
sat SAT mistakes SAT prep standardized tests study habits test prep

About Kate Ballard-Rosa

Kate Ballard-Rosa

Kate Ballard-Rosa is the Managing Director of truePrep, a premium, online tutoring company that provides high-quality SAT tutoring at an affordable price. She previously worked as a tutor and is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Fabiola Rodriguez

Fabiola Rodriguez

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me on my journey to get to the school of my first choice by showing me all the options I have. I didn’t know of the College of Southern Nevada until I went on this website, and it helped me look for other choices and compare what colleges would be right for me.

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

Bri'Yana Brown-Dunn

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me gain interest in many colleges/universities and many scholarships. I would say the most helpful thing CollegeXpress has done for me is sending me emails that tell me certain types of colleges are interested in me as well as emails about scholarships that I can look at and possibly apply for.

Aaliyah

Aaliyah

High School Class of 2022

My mother signed me up for a couple of scholarship contests through CollegeXpress. I was also able to do some research and compare the different schools on my list. I was able to see the graduation rates and different programs that helped me decide on Adelphi University. I will continue looking for some scholarships for my start in September.

Anthony Vidal

Anthony Vidal

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress has helped me in a series of different ways when it comes to finding scholarships and learning information about different universities. I actually found my dream university through CollegeXpress and am working on getting there.

Jessica Rinker

Jessica Rinker

Student, Fairhaven High School; CollegeXpress Student Writer

My high school counselor introduced me to CollegeXpress freshman year. It has made such a difference in high school, and I plan to continue relying on it in college. CollegeXpress is my go-to because it addresses each aspect of being a student. There are the articles you’d expect regarding college applications and financial aid, but you will also find advice on things like de-stressing and maintaining relationships while balancing a heavy course load. CollegeXpress will also keep you updated on current scholarships through e-mails each Saturday. (They don’t harass you with any product promotion like so many other sites do.) CollegeXpress is a lot like an older sibling who has already conquered the challenges you are facing. Now, they are reaching out a helpful hand. I say take it.

College Matches