1. Take a practice test – Before you even begin studying for the SAT, take a practice test. This preliminary test will show you your weak and strong areas so that you will be able to plan the rest of you study time around your weak areas. There are a number of different practice tests available. First, Kaplan provides a free SAT quiz bank with over 1,700 questions. It is an excellent resource. Second, CliffNotes sells a SAT prep subscription, which includes four practice tests and even a number of essay questions, for $59.99. Depending on the scholarships available for high SAT scores, this cost could be well worth it. In addition, a quick search on Amazon or Google will reveal many other options. Beware of scams, though, and do not purchase or download anything from a site that is not highly reputable. Recap: In this step you are simply evaluating where you are and where you need to go. Once you take the final practice test in step six, you enjoy looking back and seeing how much you have improved.
2. Study your weak areas – Once you know what areas need improvement, it is time to study. Get study guides on the topics in which you struggled. You can easily find guides on individual subjects like geometry by searching Amazon.com. Read every book that you can get your hands on. Remember, the key to the SAT is study time. Even if you buy the most expensive SAT prep guides, you must study. A high grade cannot be bought; it must be earned. Recap: Study, study, study.
3. Answer practice questions – When you have studied your weak areas, it is time to begin answering practice questions. Many resources are available for this step. First, if you took the PSAT, College Board offers a free SAT study plan in their “My College QuickStart” program. The part that I like about this option is the study method that they use. This program gives you questions based on what you missed on the PSAT, thereby strengthening your weak areas. Unfortunately, this service is only available to students who already took the PSAT. Another excellent resource is available to everyone. The Official SAT Test Question of the Day will provide you with a free question every day. In addition, it compares your answer to those of the other respondents. Many of the resources mentioned in step one are also useful in this step. Recap: Answer all the practice questions that you can.
4. Practice the essay – Once you have the rest of the SAT under control, it is time to start working on the SAT essay. To begin, you can answer past SAT essay prompts on the College Board site. They actually list prompts that were used on real SAT tests! This is an excellent way to practice. In addition, you should explore the official SAT site to learn everything that you can about the essay and the grading system. Finally, you can get a book about essay writing. To save money, you can find a book by searching Amazon.com and then checking it out of your local public library. The key to doing well on the essay is practice. Recap: Practice writing essays until you are entirely comfortable doing them.
5. Study some more – Studying is by far the most important part of the preparation process. Set aside at least a half-hour a day for study. The more you practice and study, the easier the test will be, and the better you score will be. If you have answered thousands of practice questions, the actual SAT will not be so frightening or difficult. While practicing, it might be useful to study with a few friends to make it more enjoyable. You can compete for the quickest time and the best answers. Recap: Study as much as possible.
6. Take another practice test – Finally, after you feel ready for the SAT, take another practice test. This time you can use the free Official SAT Practice Test. You will be amazed at how far you have come.
7. Repeat…if necessary – If you are satisfied with your practice score, then register for the real SAT. However, if you practice score is not satisfactory, you can repeat the study process.
Coming soon . . . “What to Expect on Test Day … and How to Prepare for It”