By Jonas Kavaliauskas
Published 2023 05 06
Greetings, future college students and supportive parents! Are you gearing up to tackle the SAT, one of the most crucial exams in your academic journey? Well, then we’re here to arm you with the best tips, tricks, and strategies to conquer this test and help you reach your dream college. With our expert guidance, you’ll transform into an SAT-slaying superhero, ready to take on any challenge that comes your way. So, let’s dive into the secrets of SAT success!
Before you can ace the SAT, you must first understand the battlefield. Familiarize yourself with the test format, which consists of three main sections: Evidence-Based Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. By knowing the structure and timing of each section, you’ll be better prepared to navigate the test and manage your time effectively.
It’s important to note that after 2022, international applicants will be taking the Digital SAT, which is still administered in testing centers around the world, but taken on a computer and has some significant differences: it combines the Reading & Writing sections into one, allows for the usage of a calculator on all Math questions, is shorter (2h 14 min. vs. 3 h), to name but a few. After 2023, it is expected to replace the traditional SAT in the United States as well.
Below you’ll find a helpful chart from Compass.
Like a skilled general, you need a well-crafted battle plan to achieve victory. Develop a study schedule that allocates ample time for each SAT section, incorporating regular practice tests to assess your progress. Remember to balance your study sessions with breaks, ensuring you stay sharp and focused. Khan Academy has a ton of great resources and practice tests, prepared in cooperation with College Board, the official creator and administrator of the SAT. Once you work your way through these, Barron’s, Princeton Review and Kaplan should be next – having gone through all the relevant resources, our mentors found these to be the best on a series of different metrics.
Equip yourself with the best test-taking strategies to tackle each section, such as eliminating incorrect answer choices, guessing wisely, and managing time efficiently. Mastering these tactics will help you stay calm and confident during the exam, boosting your chances of success.
Here at Atlas, we advise our students to, among other things, program their graphing calculators with the most commonly used formulas – this will help save time on the test.
An extensive vocabulary is a mighty weapon in the SAT arsenal. Regularly review commonly tested words and use them in context to solidify your understanding. By expanding your linguistic repertoire, you’ll be well-prepared to vanquish the Reading and Writing sections.
Again, here at Atlas, we give our students a list of 1,000 difficult words that appear in SAT texts most frequently – many students have told us that memorizing these terms has helped them improve their scores by at least 50-100 points!
Don’t let tricky math problems get the better of you! Focus on strengthening your understanding of key mathematical concepts and practice solving a variety of problems. The more you practice, the better equipped you’ll be to handle any mathematical challenge the SAT throws your way.
In our experience, the number of practice problems solved and tests taken is highly positively correlated with the improvement of students’ scores. Take as many practice tests as you can!
Also, when it comes to the practice tests, we advise you to try and shorten the time allocated to each section by 10-20%. Think about it like runners think about their training before an important race – world-class athletes often train in high-elevation, low-oxygen environments, so that when the day of the actual competition comes, running under normal conditions feels much easier. Equally with the SAT – if you deprive yourself of time and learn to function this way, hopefully, the actual test will feel a little like moving in slow-motion, and you’ll have time to check your answers, or spend more time on more challenging questions.
You can take the SAT as many times as you want and, for most universities, send in only the highest score. Hence, we advise our students to take the test at least twice, and start taking the SATs early, leaving enough room for future attempts. You should sit on the first real test when you feel adequately prepared, ideally in the spring of your junior year (11th grade), since taking the test earlier than that might prove difficult due to gaps in your education thus far (material not yet covered in 10th and 11th grade), whereas taking the test later might be pushing it close to the application deadlines and leave you with too few future test slots to ensure the maximum result.
With these top tips in your SAT strategy toolkit, you’re now ready to embark on your quest for SAT success. Stay diligent, remain focused, and trust in your abilities. By mastering these techniques, you’ll emerge victorious and one step closer to attending the college of your dreams. So, charge forth, future scholars, and conquer the SAT with confidence!
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