Across the nation in every state, there sits millions of intelligent high school students. Many of them hold grand dreams of their college life and their future professional careers. However, a key to reaching college and getting a good career is the SAT, created by The College Board. Due to the enormous competition that had sprouted up recently, colleges needed to pick out the best (and sometimes, the best of the best) to make up their incoming student body. To figure out which applicants had the best proficiency in academics, they administered the SAT test to all that wished to enter. Therefore, the importance of the SAT cannot be underestimated and preparation is never too early.
The easiest way to prepare for the SAT is to simply take a SAT prep course. These courses should be easily available at your high school or college preparation companies like Kaplan. Doing this is great if you lack motivation to study. Paying a small fee and getting an instructor can boost your score quite a bit. However, there are downsides. These prep courses are only useful to teach you the basics and boost your score up to above average. If you’re planning on going to a high competition school like one of the Ivy Leagues, then you’ll have to do some of your own practice and studying. Also, some parts of the SAT can only be mastered through long term practice and dedication.
So, the first step in preparing for the SAT is to learn the format. The SAT is a 3 hour and 45 minute test, and a test that long is definitely hard. It is then divided into three sections called Critical Reading, Writing, and Math. Each section has a total score of 800 is you manage to get all the questions right (the writing section includes a mandatory essay which is scored from a 1 to a 12; this essay score is mixed into your multiple choice writing section score with a chart). This means the full score of the SAT is 2400, your goal when you take the test.
Now we’ll tackle the SAT section by section. First, how would you do well on Critical Reading? The critical reading section is split into passage reading and sentence completion questions. So how do you do well on passage reading? The simple answer is to read more. Of course you go with certain strategies but the simplest most straightforward way to do well on this section is to have a high reading level. To attain that, you must read a great deal of high level literature. The passages on the SAT are not easy and reading simple novels absolutely cannot help you during the test. So get your share of articles or magazines to boost your ability to read fast and retain information. Some good places to look would be science articles from websites or magazines. Also, National Geographic is a great source for the SAT sometimes uses articles from this magazine.
Now for sentence completion. Sentence completion is simply to test your mastery of high vocabulary. Reading can certainly boost your vocabulary but that most likely won’t be enough for the SAT. You’ll probably have to go brute force on vocabulary and just memorize tons of words (don’t sweat because there are many books out there with the special lists of the words that the SAT will most likely use). Also, memorizing structures of words like prefixes, roots, and suffixes can help greatly with your word study. Word study classes might also be offered at your high school.
For the Writing section on the SAT, we must first and foremost master grammar. Getting a good grammar book and learning some of the common errors of grammar will help immensely. The sections of the writing section are the greatest in number, including identifying sentence errors, improving sentences, improving paragraphs, and the essay. The first three should be taken care of by a good amount of practice and grammar study. However, for the essay, though good grammar will help, it will not win over your scorers. For writers, the quote “practice makes perfect” holds true here. Practice plenty and your writing skills will sharpen. Learn to use literary devices and the use of pathos (emotional appeal), ethos (ethical appeal), and logos (logical appeal) to persuade your scorer. Increase your vocabulary to sound witty and transition your sentences and paragraphs to make your writing nice and smooth.
Lastly, for the Mathematics section, there are simply the multiple choice questions and free response questions. These questions range from your basic high school algebra to geometry to high level algebra and geometry. So no calculus or trigonometry. But these questions can still be quite tricky and requires practice. To do good in math, you must have a fundamental knowledge equations. However, sound logic is very important and believe it or not, logic puzzles can indeed help your mathematical skills.
With the importance of the SAT, there has a been a high demand of SAT study material so many companies have rushed to accommodate those needs. Even College Board themselves have created their own study guide called the Official SAT Study Guide, which I highly recommend. Some Barrons books would also be recommended. The College Board website is also quite useful with their SAT Question of the Day and other study tips and materials. The Petersons Word of the Day is another great resource.
On the day of the test, remember to get a photo ID, ticket, several pencils, and acceptable calculator. Sleep well the day before and be well energized. Be comfortable and make sure your focus is at a maximum. Feel confident and succeed.