Friday, August 6, 2010

How to Optimize Your Study Time for the SAT

Taking the SAT may not be the highlight of your senior year of high school, but it certainly ranks near the top of the priority list. Colleges will be shopping for freshmen with high SAT scores, so it is imperative that you optimize your study time so you can get the most out of the experience. Even though staying at home to study while your friends are “having fun” seems like a dreadful experience, it is a necessity for students to gain familiarity with such a long and tricky exam., the official web site of the SAT and ACT, allows students to register for the ‘SAT Question of the Day’. Signing up for this free service is a great way to get a daily dose of SAT study time. It also serves as a reminder to spend some time in review each day. Your SAT test day will sneak up on you, so make the most of every day leading up to it.

Instead of cramming right before of the exam, it is much more beneficial to study in increments in order to allow yourself to get into the rhythm and pattern of studying. Studying for the exam (practicing problems, studying vocabulary) every day also prevents “shock value” (students who are unfamiliar with test material may feel overwhelmed) while allowing you to increase your concentration and stamina throughout the duration of the exam. The simple step of looking at Collegeboard’s SAT question of the day can get you into the groove of practicing for a set period of time prior to your test date while giving you an edge over unprepared, unorganized test takers.

Software is also available to aid in SAT preparation. Practice tests, sample questions and standardized test-taking advice are all organized in a user-friendly format that makes studying less of a chore. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for “old-fashioned” study habits. Math skills can be best improved by working practice problems until they become easy. English and grammar skills can be improved by reviewing the rules and memorizing terms and definitions. Reading comprehension skills are sharpened by reading books and articles and answering relative questions about the content of the text.

Begin SAT preparation weeks or months in advance. By including a little practice in all of these academic areas each day, you will eliminate the dreaded cram session that many students find themselves in during the final days before the test. Cramming for a large test like the SAT is much less helpful than incremental study time over a long period of time, especially with all the unnecessary stress you will encounter on test day.

Finally, get a good night’s sleep the night before the test. Most SAT sessions begin at 7am or 8am on a Saturday. Resist the urge to stay up late the night before. Your mind will thank you on the morning of the test, and you’ll be even happier when the scores come back.

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