Five Ways to Prepare for the SAT as a 10th Grader
We at CollegeVine often hear from 10th graders who are eagerly and sometimes anxiously anticipating their college application process. Many want to know how they can get started with things like college lists, SAT prep, and polishing their profiles. The good news is, when you start early, these tasks become easier later on.
Beginning SAT prep in 10th grade isn’t a necessity, but there are certainly ways that you can get ahead by starting earlier. In this post we’ll outline our top five SAT prep tips for 10th graders. If you’re looking to get your test prep underway and hit the ground running when you start 11th grade, don’t miss this post.
1. Read, Read, and Read Some More
Reading is our number one test prep tip for just about any phase of test preparation. By reading, you are exposed to new vocabulary, various genres and styles, and differing perspectives.
In order to make the most of your reading, be certain to choose challenging content. Reading an article from the New York Times every day is one great, achievable goal, especially if you take advantage of their Learning Network, which provides free content for students. Some other good sources might include classic literature, Science Magazine, or The Economist. Finding a high quality periodical in your areas of interest is a great way to stay on top of breaking news while building knowledge and vocabulary.
Be sure to choose reading materials that vary in subject, style, and purpose. If you don’t understand what you’re reading, go back, reread, and try to make a summary in your head or on paper. Finally, to really maximize the benefits, be certain to look up any vocabulary words you don’t already know. Reading challenging material on a regular basis in the single most important thing you can do to prepare for not only standardized tests, but also college level reading and writing assignments.
2. Start Following the SAT Question of the Day
Many 10th graders are eager to dive right into SAT-specific content. If this is your goal, download the Daily Practice app for the new SAT on your phone or other mobile device. This app automatically poses one SAT question per day and provides a hint and answer explanation.
By starting a daily practice question while you’re still in tenth grade, you’ll have plenty of time to build experience with the specific style of test questions you’ll find on the real SAT. You’ll also build valuable test-taking strategies by reading the answer explanations.
To make the most of your daily question, make a habit of revealing the hint and the reading the entire answer explanation, even if you think you know the answer right away. The hint will often reveal the thinking process needed for tackling each question, and the answer explanation will provide even more insight. You might think you don’t need the explanation if you’ve gotten the question right, but don’t pass up the opportunity to learn more about the content and strategy necessary for success.
3. Review a Practice Test
If you want to take your prep to the next level, go ahead and review an official practice test. Don’t worry about taking it under the normal timing and resource constraints. Instead, think of it as a very initial exposure to the test format and content.
Sit down with the test over the course of several days and tackle it bit by bit. Don’t think of it as an actual SAT, or even as a good indicator of how you might perform on the actual SAT. Instead, think of it as a resource to learn more about the test.
Start by reading the instructions in their entirety. By the time you take the actual SAT, you should be familiar with the instructions enough that you don’t need to waste any time reviewing them on test day. Also keep track of the questions that pose challenges for you. In the answer explanations, you’ll find more information about what kind of question each was. This will give you important clues about where you’ll need to focus your time and energy when you begin to prep in earnest.
4. Join an SAT Forum
With increasing access to the Internet and social media, crowdsourcing SAT resources has never been so easy. There are many Reddit threads devoted specifically to SAT prep and information, along with an online forum provided by official SAT-partner Khan Academy.
It’s okay to be a quiet observer when you join these threads. In fact, without any actual SAT experience to speak of, that’s probably where you’ll have to begin, but you can learn an immense amount just by checking out the threads on a daily or even weekly basis.
Pay particular attention to which issues and questions seem to pop up most frequently. These might indicate particular trouble areas that could well impact you, too. Also pay attention to links to more obscure study resources or tips. Keep a document going with links to these resources so that when the time comes to use them, you have a handy list in one place.
5. Don’t Stress About It
Tenth grade is pretty early to begin SAT prep. If you dive straight in with serious practice tests, online assessments, or other intense SAT prep tools, you might quickly become overwhelmed. This is because the SAT assumes a certain amount of knowledge and experience coming into the test, and you are still a full year in school behind the level of experience that most students have when they take the SAT.
Rather than starting everything very early and causing yourself any undue stress, we recommend that you start slowly. Use the tips above to get your feet wet, take the PSAT-10, and look ahead to the PSAT in October of 11th grade. There’s no reason to place undue pressure on yourself just yet.
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