There’s no magic pill for succeeding on the SAT
The SAT is the college entrance test for high school students.Most test prep experts agree that for overseas students, the USA-based test requires more than just knowledge of subject matter, it demands a high level of disciplined, early test preparation. In other words, the SAT not only tests your knowledge, it tests your ability to prepare. The best SAT preparation follows a system antithetical to the way most Indian schools approach learning – that is, the SAT tests understanding, critical thinking and logic rather than rote learning and memorized replies.
So while SAT preparation should be rigorous, it is different than prepping for local board exams. Here are a few ways you can study successfully for the SAT.
- Focus on test-day conditions when you prep. No distractions, keep time, and use real College Board questions. (The College Board produces the SAT test.) Prep programs generally use questions from previous SAT exams. Others use questions made by SAT question-makers which are very close to the real thing.One difference from studying with test-day conditions is that for some prep, you can take extra time for the test sections where you’re the weakest.
- Give plenty of time, well in advance, to prepare. If your ability in basic English and Math skills is low, it will take months to improve these before you are ready to face the test questions, and there is no way to speed up the process. For those whose skill base is on a higher level, eight to ten weeks of concentrated work may be enough.
- Prepare without distractions. In today’s world, that’s easier said than done. Putting aside the mobile phone, turning off the TV, closing the browser tabs takes will power. But that’s the only way to effectively study for a test that is as difficult and “tricky” as the SAT.
- Stay healthy. Lack of sleep, lack of exercise, too much sugary foods cause fatigue and make it difficult to concentrate.
- Approach the emphasis on vocabulary with common sense. “Cramming” for vocabulary is the most ineffective way to learn new words. And the SAT actually tests reasoning, logic and careful reading . One of the best ways to prep for the SAT is to read extensively, something which is becoming increasingly rare for high school students. In fact, the best way to prepare for the SAT English portions is to start reading – fiction and non-fiction books, the newspaper, magazines – every day starting in elementary school!
- Develop a strategic approach. The SAT tests the ability to think logically, to infer underlying meaning – and these are skills that can be practiced for each of the SAT sections.In many ways the SAT is a game, with its own rules, so more insight into how the SAT is “programmed” to defeat you will help you win.
- Use both the official College Board SAT guide book and an unofficial program which has more in the way of explanations and strategy. Programs like Extramarks’ SAT Preparation combine strategies for each of the test sections, unlimited real tests, and lucid explanations, and its SAT diagnostic test will make sure you’re concentrating on weak area