Advice and Wellness

A Senior’s SAT Prep Tips for Success

Photo by Matthew Henry

As SAT testing season rolls around, many Fort Lauderdale High School juniors agonize about their performance on the college entrance exam and are looking for ways to ensure they make a good score. There are plenty of tips online, but here is some bona fide advice from a high school senior who can help you to master the SAT.

  • Do not stress about the score you get on your first SAT test. Treat it as a dry-run. It is an indication of whether the SAT or the ACT is better suited for you.
  • There are tons of SAT books out there for you. Do not splurge on the most expensive one or any book that will guarantee a specific score. Buy a book that will help improve on your weak points. If you are not the best with the math, get the math book. If you struggle in the writing section, buy the writing book.
  • With books, most of the time, the edition does not matter. The SAT was revamped in 2016, but books published from 2016 onward are fine to use. The same information is in the books.
  • If you are going to buy a book, here are some of the books I recommend. I have either used them or heard about them being effective. 
    • The Critical Reader: The Complete Guide to SAT Reading by Erica Meltzer
    • The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar by Erica Meltzer
    • The College Panda’s SAT Math: Advanced Guide and Workbook for the New SAT by Nielson Phu
    • SAT Prep Black Book: The Most Effective SAT Strategies Ever Published by Mike Barrett and Patrick Barrett
  • If you can not afford to buy a book, that is fine. The Broward County Library is a good resource, and many free pdfs of SAT books are available online. Additionally, Khan Academy is extremely helpful.
  • There are books with full practice SAT tests in them. They are good resources, but I find that it is most helpful to practice with the SAT tests that College Board releases, which are on Khan Academy. There are 10 free practice tests on their website. On the off chance you finish doing those, there are free tests on websites like Reddit.
  • When it comes to taking full length practice tests, do them on the weekend, and try to simulate the testing environment when doing so. Use weekdays to complete practice questions and learn the concepts. If you want to do a practice test during the week, do one section. For example, complete the 25- minute math section.
  • This may appear to be self-explanatory, but please check over your work after completing it. Grade it, and analyze why you got the question wrong. This is especially true for students who want to get high SAT scores for top universities.
  • It is important to prioritize the different sections. Reading is a harder section to improve upon. But, the writing section is memorization and application of grammar rules. You can improve exponentially on the reading section by doing well on writing. So, work on the writing section. Your score will thank you. Furthermore, learn the concepts for math, so you can easily solve the math questions. Though the calculator section is difficult, you may be able to get a perfect score on the no-calculator section. Again, your score will thank you.
  • There are people who will advertise the graphing calculator. Do not spend the hundred dollars. Unless you already have one, learn the concepts, and use the calculator you have.
  • If you do buy a graphing calculator, learn how to use it ahead of time. You will run out of time fiddling with the settings. Further, if you do not learn how to use the advanced settings, you will just be carrying an expensive, glorified regular calculator on test day.
  • There are different strategies for each section. Some people do questions in order, some do not. Some read the passage, and others skim. Do what works for you.
  • Focus on timing. There are five reading passages, and 65 minutes to complete them. You can reserve 13 minutes for each passage. Be mindful where and why you are running out of time.
  • Do not compare your score with your friends or constantly stress about not being able to improve. Everyone moves in their own time. Your score will get better.
  • Do not spend all your time studying. Take a break. 

I hope these tips help. Best wishes on your SAT ventures!

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