Top 5 SAT Prep Hacks

It's getting to be SAT season, which means it's time to get prepared. Here are some easy ways to prepare to take the SAT this year.

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When it comes to SAT prep, your process determines your success. There are plenty of ways to steel yourself for test day, so it’s up to you to find the approach that will leave you feeling relaxed, confident, and ready to conquer.

If you’ve come here to find a quick fix, you can stop reading now. The truth is, good preparation for anything takes focus, dedication, and time. But with these five tips, we hope to help you set a path toward achieving your highest potential score without wasting tons of time to get there.

Related: SAT Prep Do’s and Don’ts

1. Build your stamina

Sitting through a four-hour exam is no easy feat, regardless of its content. The good news is that concentration is like a muscle; it gets tired with overuse, but you can train it to withstand more. Repetitive and familiar practice will ready your mind for the mental marathon that lies ahead.

You can start by undergoing a few practice tests. You’ll get a feel for the SAT’s content and its pacing and time commitment. Take these simulations in the same way you’d take the real SAT, giving yourself the allotted time for each section and for each break in between.

2. Target your studying

After a few practice tests, you should start to identify which parts of the test need the most work. Get efficient with your SAT prep by prioritizing training to focus on your weaker areas.

Nail down the test sections with the most room for growth, target your efforts, and watch yourself take off! You’ll improve faster and more profoundly by workshopping these sections rather than taking entire practice tests week after week.

Related: Top Apps to Help You Nail the SAT

3. Set your goals

Setting a target SAT score is your one-way ticket to motivation city. Having a concrete mission with a specific objective is crucial to persevering when the going gets tough.

Your goal should be achievable but ambitious enough to challenge you. Don’t freak out if you end up falling short; any improvement is worth the effort.

To get an idea of where you stand with the Math, Reading, and Writing sections, take some practice tests until you have a rough picture of your performance. For the optional Essay section, share some of your written submissions with an expert, like an English teacher, tutor, parent, or mentor.

Once you have your baseline, consider how much you’ll realistically be able to improve before the test. A 100-point improvement goal is a solid start, especially if it puts you within range of your schools' target scores.

4. Master your fundamentals

Grammar isn’t everyone’s favorite study topic, but knowing the rules can have a significant impact on your reading and writing skills. Grammar studies are even more important if you elect to take the Essay section.

Ask your English teacher, a tutor, or a parent to look at a recent essay of yours, focusing specifically on grammar and syntax. Are some of your verbs conjugated incorrectly? Do you consistently make a “your/you’re” error or struggle with “there/their/they’re?” Does your writing have comma splices or one of many other common grammar mistakes?

With the SAT Math section, 58 questions in 80 minutes leaves little room for missteps. Fortunately, there are lots of resources that map out commonly used math formulas and skills. Start with the 11 geometric formulas given to you as a reference on the test. Practice working with these formulas to get a sense of each one’s utility.

Your calculator is your friend, but remember to think critically about the answers it gives you. Understanding the basics will help conceptualize what those answers should be!

5. Find SAT prep that works

Tutors and teachers know the SAT, and they offer a variety of prep classes for every student’s needs.

It’s crucial to find the process that works best for you. Some students enjoy having group classes where they can improve alongside their friends and classmates. Others prefer one-on-one instruction to meet their specialized needs.

SAT tutors and services are viable prep options, but piling these on can get expensive. Look for free online and local resources designed to help ready you for test day.

Related: The Dictionary of Difficult Words: A Fun Way to Study SAT Vocab

You’ll do fine

If you’re starting to think about getting your act together for the SAT this year, use these tried-and-true tactics to give yourself an early and lasting boost.

Remember, these “hacks” aren’t meant to be implemented all at once. The right preparation happens one step at a time. Give yourself time to reflect and experiment with which of these tactics work best for you.

Read the full article here, and find more study hacks in our Test Prep section.

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