Summer is a great time to prepare for the SAT! Without the day-to-day obligations and packed schedules of the school year, students often find it easier to carve out a couple of hours a week during the summer to work on preparing for the SAT. Read on for some tips for taking advantage of the break from school to prepare for the SAT.
I say this so often in my everyday work that I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but the best way to boost your score on the SAT is to read outside of school. Read, read, read! People who read regularly do noticeably better on the SAT than those who rarely read or only read when it’s for school. Reading is the easiest way to improve vocabulary, increase reading comprehension, and develop an inherent understanding of proper grammar and sentence structure. For this to work, you don’t need to be reading incredibly dense, difficult works of “great literature.” All you need to do is read books that capture your attention, either fiction or nonfiction. The important thing is to be reading!
2. Use Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a wonderful (and free!) resource that all students should be utilizing to prepare for the SAT. Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board to provide students with personalized practice for the SAT. Because students sign up for Khan Academy’s SAT prep through their College Board account, the program is able to take students’ PSAT or previous SAT scores and create customized practice for them, based on the areas they need to improve. I encourage all of our students to take advantage of this great resource while preparing for the SAT. For more information about Khan Academy’s SAT prep, you can visit their website.
3. Use a prep book
The one drawback to Khan Academy is that it’s done entirely online. It’s so important to practice for the SAT by answering questions on paper since the real test is taken on paper. Even if students are using Khan Academy, I also encourage them to purchase an SAT prep book. In addition to practice tests and questions, these books often contain helpful tips for how to approach the types of questions that appear on the SAT. (I do, however, caution against relying too much on “tricks” for answering SAT questions. The real value in these prep books is in the exposure it gives to the types of questions students can expect to see on the test. Don’t waste mental energy trying to outsmart the SAT – just learn how to take it!) I recommend the Official SAT Study Guide from the College Board.
4. Take Practice Tests
The SAT really is a test of endurance, so it’s best that the first time you take it isn’t the first time you’ve sat for a test of that duration. The SAT prep books usually contain several practice tests with answer guides so you can take and score your tests like the real thing. It’s also important to practice for the SAT under conditions as close to the real test as possible. This means finding a quiet, distraction-free place, using a pencil and paper to answer the questions, and making sure to set a timer to give yourself only the allotted amount of time to answer the questions in each section.
5. Plan to take the test early in the school year
If you’re preparing for the SAT over the summer, try to take the test as early as possible in the school year. It’s best to prepare for the test in the weeks leading up to the day you actually take the test so that the skills you’re learning and practicing are fresh going into it. If you do all your preparation over the summer and then wait until later in the year to take the test, you run the risk of being out of practice when it comes time to demonstrate your skills on the test. There is usually an August/September test you can take.
Check out these articles for more information about the SAT:
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