Finding time to study for the SAT can seem like an uphill battle. You’re already balancing schoolwork, friends, family, and extracurricular activities. Adding a couple of hours of SAT practice to all that can seem impossible. Here are a couple tips to find time to study for the SAT.
Make an Honest Assessment of Your Current Schedule
Start recording what you’re actually doing each hour of the day. A quick note each hour will be fine. How do your days break down? Is this how it is every day? If you already have a schedule, how well are you sticking to it? In order to fix your time management, you first need to know what its current state is. Are you spending a wild amount of time on one task? Do you need to cut something out to make room for SAT practice? This will help you make the hard decisions about your study time.
Set a Schedule
There should be times when you’re studying for the SAT, and when you are not studying for the SAT. Having clear definitions like this will help you keep on track. Having your study time for the SAT is “every waking moment” will only wear you down and make you procrastinate.
However you study for the SAT, try and make it in the same space and time every week. The more regular it is, the more you can plan around it, and you can make plans on the fly without worrying too much about overlapping with your study time.
You know the SAT is important, but are you motivated to make it a priority? Our article on finding motivation for the SAT can help with that. Internalize what it means to you, and plan accordingly.
Divide the SAT into Smaller, Doable Chunks
You don’t have to have a whole hour to yourself to do some SAT studying. The reading and grammar sections of the SAT can be divided into passages, and you can choose problem sets from the practice tests to study. If you don’t have an hour to sit down and do a whole test, try fitting in some 12 minute chunks here and there. Do some math problems on the bus or before class starts. Sneak some prep into those little gap moments.
Block Out Time for the Bigger Chunks
Small moments are all well and good, but there will come a time when you need to sit down and do a whole section in one swoop. Get that hour, and talk to folks in your household to make sure you won’t be disturbed during that time. Your SAT scores are important, and your parents will most likely be down to help you make your studying plans a reality. However, if you’re still facing frequent interruptions, consider going to a library to study or somewhere else where you’ll be inconvenient to interrupt.
Be Wary of Distractions that Make You Lose Time
A lot of games and media these days are purposefully designed to be hard to put down and make you lose track of time. Have you ever been playing a game, meant to stop, but didn’t because you were so close to finishing something? And then, an hour later, you’re still so close to finishing something else? Most games, especially phone games, are designed to give you little bursts of dopamine (the brain chemical that controls feelings of accomplishment) regularly. This can be very addictive, and easy to lose yourself in, especially if you aren’t feeling accomplished outside of the game.
If there’s a game or media that you have trouble stepping away from, even when you know you should be doing something else, you need to limit your time on it, or switch to another leisure activity will probably free up a lot of time. Reading or drawing tends to be much easier to step away from.
If timers can’t limit your playtime, you’ll need to take stronger steps, like deleting it from your phone or computer. Look, if you really miss it, you can redownload it after the SATs, but right now, it needs to be out of sight and out of mind.
Take Care of Yourself
Tasks take longer when you’re exhausted, hungry, or suffering! Sleep and eat! This might seem like trite advice, but often, students come in seriously denying their body in the name of higher grades. One hour of well-rested studying is worth three sleep deprived hours of sitting in front of a textbook. If your body isn’t doing so well, then neither is your mind.
Get a Tutor
Part of studying is also judging your weak points. If you’re struggling on knowing where to start or focus, tutoring can be especially useful. A tutor can help formalize your study plan, and hold you accountable to the goals you set. Having a set time can also help you stick to a steady schedule.
That’s all! Now go find time to study for the SAT! If you want more SAT and ACT prep advice sure to join our mailing list for a free 27-item checklist and 30-day free SAT email course.