How to Prepare for the SAT

By Maya Schenne

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (or the SAT) is a test designed to “show schools how prepared you are for college by measuring key skills like reading comprehension, computational ability, and clarity of expression.” Colleges look at the scores to determine whether to accept you into their school or not. It is important to do your best when taking the test. Even if you are amazing at taking tests, you should prepare for this specific exam. Here are some tips for preparing for the SAT exam.

  1. Take practice tests.

Practice tests have the same concepts as the real test. They allow you to “preview” the test material and practice taking the exam. The questions are very similar to the actual test, which gives an insight on what to study. The PSAT exam is an example of a practice test.

  1. Know the test structure.

The SAT exam contains 154 questions, including one essay prompt. There are 96 questions in the reading, writing, and language sections. The math portion of the test contains 58 questions (20 questions do not allow the use of a calculator). The whole test takes three hours. An additional 50 minutes will be given for the essay prompt. The essay, however, is not required.

  1. Write practice essays.

To prepare for the essay portion of the exam, practice writing essays. Set a timer for 50 minutes and practice writing a well-structured essay. This will help you learn to write better in a shorter amount of time. If you cannot reach the 50-minute mark,  try to work on time management.

SAT--picture 1

  1. Practice “being a calculator”.

In one of the math sections, the use of a calculator is not allowed. If you struggle with mental math, practice evaluating simple problems. This can include long division, multiplying big numbers, or converting fractions to decimals.

  1. Memorize rules and formulas.

Many rules and formulas will not be provided during the test. This means that you will have to memorize them. An easy way to do this is to make flashcards. You can have a friend or family member quiz you. Most textbooks have the formulas listed in each chapter.

  1. Use your resources.

Another great way to study for the test is to look at the test. You can’t look at the exact test you’ll be taking, but you can review past exams to get a feel for what the content is. If you are still nervous about the test, try taking one of the past exams in the same conditions as the actual test. This is similar to the PSAT, which is basically just a mock SAT to let students get comfortable with the testing conditions.

Once you’ve prepared for the test, it’s time to take the test. Remember to get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast. The rest is up to you and your brain. If you try your best and prepare beforehand, the test should be easier and less stressful. Good luck!

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.