How To Find Time to Study for Your SAT Every Single Day
As a high school student, it’s easy to get busy with classes, extracurriculars, jobs, community service work, and more. When it comes time to take the SAT, it can be difficult to carve out enough time in your schedule to study, which could potentially have a negative effect on your performance on the test.
Many students fall into the trap of thinking that they do not need to spend that much time studying for the SAT right away, especially when the test date is far away. After all, the online registration deadlines for the SAT are generally a little less than a month before the exam, so it is possible to feel a false sense of security when you register because you still have a few weeks before the test.
However, doing well on the SAT usually requires many hours of learning, revising, and refreshing what you know. Some students start studying for the SAT months in advance, and for many students, their score improves the more practice they do.
How do you adequately study and prepare for the SAT with a busy high school schedule? The key is to find small ways to study for a few minutes every single day and motivate yourself to study for longer periods of time (a few hours, perhaps) as often as your schedule permits. Read on for a brief introduction to the SAT and some simple ways to study for the SAT every single day.
A Brief Overview of the SAT
We at CollegeVine have extensively covered the structure of the SAT in previous blog posts. If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to the SAT, check out any of these blog posts:
However, as a brief summary, the SAT is a four-hour entrance exam used by universities to make admissions decisions. As opposed to class rank, GPA, and other indicators that might naturally vary based on a student’s circumstances, the SAT provides colleges with a universal criterion that can be used to compare all applicants.
There are two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (with an optional essay). You can get a maximum score of 800 on each section, and your section scores will add up to give you your cumulative score. For a deeper explanation of how SAT scoring works, see How the New SAT is Scored.
Convenient SAT Study Tools You Can Use Every Day
Now that you understand what the SAT is and how it works, you need to make sure you know how to effectively prepare for it. Here are some unique tools and methods that can help you study for the SAT every day without having to sit down with a giant test prep book for hours on end.
Download and Use SAT Study Apps
In the last few years, various companies and tutoring services have released their own apps to help you study and learn on-the-go. Here are some of the best apps for your phone or tablet that concentrate on SAT prep.
- Daily Practice for the New SAT: CollegeBoard, the organization that administers the SAT, has compiled thousands of practice questions into a convenient app that gives you one new SAT question per day to work through and answer, along with in-depth answer explanations. It also allows you get instant scoring and answer explanations on your SAT practice exams by scanning an answer sheet with your phone. The goal of this app is to let you see how CollegeBoard thinks and phrases SAT questions, and it is designed to only take a few minutes each day.
- Khan Academy App: Though the focus of this app is on general education in subjects like algebra, biology, and electrical engineering, they recently partnered with CollegeBoard to provide SAT prep resources as well. This is a great app if you’re looking for something that you can use for the SAT, high school and college classes, and beyond!
- SAT Up: This SAT Prep app has a big student following, even larger than the official CollegeBoard app. With over 400 practice questions, it prepares you for every section of the SAT with step-by-step explanations and detailed analytics. At the end of each quiz, you’ll get a standard formatted SAT score and even information on how your score compares to students who have been admitted to a college of your choice.
These are just some of the SAT prep apps out there. For more a comprehensive look, check out your phone provider’s app store and see which one will work best for your needs.
The benefit of these apps is that you can use them wherever you go without having to carry around a bulky and expensive SAT prep book. In addition, some of them are designed for quick and easy studying whenever you have a free minute, like when you’re in in the car, waiting in line, or on the bus ride to school.
If you’re looking for more SAT Prep resources and study help from experts, take a look at CollegeVine’s SAT Tutoring Program. We’ll provide you with two private tutors (one for the Verbal section and one for the Math section) who will work with you personally to improve your score.
The classic study techniques never fail. Making flashcards to help you with your SAT studying increases your retention at every step of the process. For starters, the very act of writing down information on a flashcard helps your brain remember the content. Secondly, if you quiz yourself with the same flashcards for a few minutes every day, the repetition of those concepts will help solidify them in your memory.
Of course, the type of flashcards you create is completely up to you. You can use traditional index-card type flashcards, flashcards on Quizlet or your favorite website or software, or even questions and answers on the front and back of a sheet of paper. As long as you are noting down concepts that you can quiz yourself on later, it should be effective.
With flashcards, it’s best not to write down every vocabulary word, grammar rule, or mathematical concept you come across. If you write down too many things, it will be harder to remember everything by studying for a few minutes each day. In order to retain the most information in a short period of time, you should limit the information you put on your flashcards to those concepts and vocabulary that you don’t know or struggle with the most.
Integrate SAT Vocabulary into everyday use
The vocabulary you face on the SAT can be tricky. CollegeBoard expects you to know words that many people aren’t familiar with and don’t use in their everyday language. It can be difficult to learn the uses of the new and advanced vocabulary when you don’t use it on a daily basis.
You may find it helpful to start using some of the more advanced SAT vocabulary in your verbal interactions. The more you use these words, the more you will understand the contexts in which they are used and the more comfortable you will be with the vocabulary on test day.
In addition to using SAT Vocabulary in your verbal interactions, try including those words in your essays and writing assignments for school. Not only will your teachers be able to tell you whether you’re using the words correctly, but they may be impressed with your advanced vocabulary, earning you a higher score on your assignments!
Motivational Tools: How to Convince Yourself to Study Every Single Day
There are a few different approaches that you can take to motivate yourself to study for the SAT. Different methods work for different people, so try each one and see which one is the most effective for you.
- Motivation through Rewards: With this strategy, you set study goals for yourself and give yourself a small treat whenever you accomplish one of those goals. For example, you can allow yourself to watch an episode of your favorite TV show if you score within a certain range on a practice test or work through a specific amount of practice problems.
- Motivation through Restraint: This method is the opposite of the previous method. Instead of giving yourself something when you accomplish a study goal, take something away from yourself until you reach your target. For instance, you could set a mandate that you will not check your social media or go to your friend’s party until you get through a certain amount of practice problems.
- Turn off Your Internet: Nowadays, the biggest temptation and distraction from studying is a student’s constant connectivity through cell phones and laptops. If you want to motivate yourself to study, eliminate other distractions by turning off your wifi, your phone, or your laptop so that you won’t get any notifications or be tempted to do something else while you’re studying for the SAT. If you find yourself getting tempted to turn your internet back on, there are apps and software programs that you can download on your devices that will prevent you from getting distracted through the internet for a specific period of time. These apps include, but are not limited to, Cold Turkey, Focus, FocalFilter, and Self Control.
- Stay Positive: At the end of the day, the easiest way to efficiently and effectively study for the SAT is to have an upbeat, positive attitude about your studying. Don’t look at SAT studying as a chore, but rather, as a stepping stone to admittance to your dream school. That positive outlook on the SAT could pay off by helping you learn and retain more information for test day.
The SAT, like many standardized tests, should not be taken without prior studying. It takes many hours of reviewing concepts, doing practice problems, and learning what you don’t already know in order to earn a score that will impress colleges.
Despite the rigor of high school coursework, extracurriculars, and other commitments, it is important to find at least a little bit of time every day to study for the SAT. Those few minutes could really add up on test day and improve your final score.
Remember to start your daily studying well in advance of your SAT Test date. If you wait until the week before the exam to start studying, you are going to need a lot more than a few minutes each day to do well on the test!
For more SAT Prep resources and tips from the CollegeVine experts, see these previous blog posts:
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