A Guest Post by Amanda Wilks
SAT testing season is just around the corner. In fact, you could argue that SAT season never truly ends! It’s no small stress-inducing issue when it comes to the average high schooler with dreams of making it into their university of choice.
A low SAT score can lead to issues making it into a chosen college or even require a student to attend a different school for several years before transferring, which can lead to costly student loans and transcript problems later on.
Much like any test, the SAT is just another exam. It just takes some preparation and know-how to tackle without coming out with your proverbial tail between your legs.
In fact, just five straightforward strategies can help you avoid the pain and shame of college rejection letters. It requires work, but any secret to success usually does!
1. Know What You’re Up Against
The first step to success is usually knowing what you should expect to overcome and the SAT is no different.
There is a catch: The SAT’s questions aren’t posted for all to see ahead of time. You have to go into the test with a base of knowledge to work from and hope you’ve learned the right subjects, which can seem daunting at first.
Thankfully, free programs exist that can begin to give you an idea of what questions the SAT will focus on in any given year thanks to the Khan Academy.
Developed in conjunction with the board responsible for the creation of the yearly SAT, the Khan Academy SAT program (and many other pre-SAT tests like it) let you take an advanced peek at problems you’ll face in your upcoming exam.
2. Study, Study, Study!
This might seem obvious, but knowing what and when to study can be almost as important as knowing that you should study in the first place.
You might have to stop procrastinating and start studying, which can be an ordeal in and of itself, but you’ll have to know what to study on top of having the motivation to do it.
As long as you’ve taken a practice test of some kind you’ll almost certainly come out of the experience with a list of topics that you need to review.
From there, find a system that works to strengthen the topics you struggle in. But, don’t forget to review your strengths as well.
3. Find a Tutor
If the thought of tutoring has tempted you to run, stay put! Improving your SAT score takes dramatic measures in some cases, but good SAT tutoring doesn’t have to be painful.
Tutoring isn’t just a way to improve your grades in areas you’re slipping up in. It’s also an opportunity to strengthen your overall knowledge base in a way that just so happens to help boost your SAT scores. In fact, the benefits of tutoring are many and varied.
Tutors will help you improve on trouble areas and keep you focused on areas of study that matter. It’s easy to end up distracted when studying on your own and finding someone to help retain sight of what is important can be the difference between an Ivy League school and a community college.
4. Set Realistic Goals
As with any long-term process, diving into SAT improvement with unrealistic expectations might wear you down before you hit the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Some experts suggest skipping past setting exact score requirements. Instead, they recommend focusing on goals that immediately show self-improvement. Try to skip the added pressure of meeting hurdles focused on numerical improvements in an unrealistic time frame.
Your improvements don’t have to be dramatic and immediate. Think of the tortoise and the hare. “Slow and steady wins the race” should be the mantra of every great SAT prep tutor.
Instead of pledging to raise your score by a specific number of points, consider your performance on your last full test or practice exam. Find a specific area that has been challenging to you and simply try to lower the number of incorrect answers you give. Lower your threshold with each practice round until you’ve reached an acceptable number of missed questions, then turn your attention elsewhere.
5. Don’t Get Discouraged
When it comes to effective SAT prep, you can’t allow yourself to become impatient.
It may take up to 100 hours to really improve your SAT results to the best level you’ll reach in a reasonable time frame.
That might sound like a lot, but consider the long-term ramifications of a better score and keep that in mind as you work.
If you begin early and regularly practice, you can spread those hundred hours over a series of several months, making it a relatively small impact on your weekly life.
Above all, remember that improving your SAT score is a slow journey, not a sprint to the top of your class.
Take it slow. Take breaks. See the world. Talk to your friends. Make sure life doesn’t pass you by while you’re preparing for the big test, and remember: Even low SAT score isn’t the end of the world.
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Author Bio: Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a schoolchoices.org contributing author. She has a great interest in everything related to education and social activism and she never misses a chance to write on these topics. If you’re interested in reading more of Amanda’s work, go on Twitter.