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The Best Way to Study for the SAT Based on Your Learning Type
As big as the SAT test is, studying for it is a whole different animal. In order to do well, you have to spend months memorizing mathematical formulas, learning hundreds of vocabulary words, taking countless practice exams, and doing everything you possibly can to prepare for this 4-hour beast. There’s a lot of information to master in a relatively short period of time.
However, all that material doesn’t have to seem so overwhelming as long as you carve out enough time to study and study in the way that is most effective for you. After all, everyone learns differently–some are visual learners, some learn best when they read information, and some people even have photographic memories.
Regardless of what you’re learning style is, there is an SAT study strategy that will make it easy for you to retain all the information you need to know for your SAT test day. Read on to learn the best way to study for the SAT based on your learning type.
If you are one of those people who remembers things in pictures and is better at retaining information when it is presented in a visual form, you ought to use visual aids as much as you can when studying for the SAT. Unfortunately, most conventional SAT test prep books are filled with written information that might not stick as well in your head, so you need another way to study.
One common thing that students do is translate the information in SAT prep books and other study materials into a visual form as you’re reading over it. For example, if you’re trying to memorize the word “apprehensive”, you could make a flash card with a picture of someone nervous. Then, when you go over the word for a second time, you can use the visual flashcard as your study aid instead of the written definition. This way, you’re more likely to remember the meaning of the word.
Translating written study aids into visual ones is a helpful study aid for two reasons. Firstly, you’ll be learning and retaining the information as you create the visual aids. Secondly, you can refer back to the visual study guides as your studying goes on to help you retain information in the way that is easiest for you.
Plenty of students find that they retain information when it is transmitted orally, whether it be through lectures, stories, or even listening to written information being read out loud. If you are one of those students, there are plenty of SAT study resources available to help you maximize your SAT study time.
These days, there are all sorts of YouTube videos, Khan Academy Tutorials, and other apps that have SAT prep material that you can listen to. Also, if you’re willing to pay some extra money, you could go take an SAT prep course or hire an SAT tutor. Either way, you need to make sure that somebody is speaking the material to you so that you retain the information better.
Those Who Love To Read
If you’re the type of person who learns best when they’re sitting down in a quiet library reading a textbook, you’ll find that most SAT study materials were made for you. You are the type of person who can learn by looking over old notes, reading information online, studying flashcards, or using SAT prep books. Given that you will only have a few months to learn a lot of material for the SAT, we suggest that SAT prep books will be the most efficient study resource for you.
SAT prep books condense the main concepts that will be covered on the SAT into a couple of chapters that are relatively easy to read through and digest. They also have practice questions and practice exams with the correct answers and feedback. You’d probably retain the most material in a short amount of time by going through those books.
If you’re the type of person who does most of their productive studying in the late hours of the night while most everyone else is asleep, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a SAT prep course or tutor that will be willing to sit down with you and help you study during those hours. The good news, however, is that every SAT prep resource that doesn’t involve in-person contact will work perfectly for you.
You can download SAT prep apps, run through the SAT prep books, and keep taking practice tests all on your own time and at your own pace. We recommend going through these SAT prep materials at night and writing down whatever questions you have about the material you’ve learned. Then, during the day, you can ask a tutor, teacher, or other SAT expert about the things you’re unsure about.
The only potential downside to studying primarily at night is that you’re losing valuable sleep time. SAT exams happen almost exclusively in the early morning, so you’re going to need to spend at least a week or two training yourself to go to sleep on time and wake up early. Otherwise, you may find that lack of sleep, rather than lack of knowledge, is what gets you on SAT test day.
Most studious high school students are very busy with homework, extracurriculars, classes, jobs, etc. Thus, it may be difficult to carve out three or four hours in a day to sit down and just study for the SAT. If you find that you resonate with that statement, don’t worry!
There are various SAT study apps you can download and various SAT pocket study guides and dictionaries that you can utilize so that you have an SAT study resource with you wherever you go. Whether you’re waiting in line, at a bus stop, or just have a few extra minutes, you can whip out those resources and get some SAT studying done.
Despite the convenience of these apps, we at CollegeVine still recommend that you do your best to sit down for a few hours a day and do some hardcore SAT studying. You’ll learn and retain way more information if you’re focused on SAT studying for a prolonged period of time than if you’re trying to cram in a few minutes of studying in the middle of some other activity.
Learning by Doing
Are you the student who hates reading the textbook and would rather see a concept in action? Does reading through an experiment bore you to tears even though seeing the experiment fascinates you? Then you’re probably the type of person who likes to learn by doing.
For you, reading through your lecture notes, study guides, and SAT prep book chapters may not be the most efficient way to study. You may be better off focusing on taking practice exams, working out real SAT test questions, and utilizing your SAT vocabulary in your actual conversations to help you study.
Thus, when you’re figuring out what SAT prep resources are best for you, don’t focus too heavily on the study guides and flashcards. Try and get a hold of as many practice questions and practice exams as you can. Go through the exams, score yourself, and see what areas you need to troubleshoot. Then you can consider going to study guides to relearn the material you’re struggling with.
If you’re the type of person who finishes assignments and readings the night before they’re due, you’re going to need a serious push in order to study for the SAT in a timely manner. This isn’t one of those exams that you can cram for the night before and do well on. Most students who do well on the SAT start studying for a few hours a day months before the actual SAT test date.
The key to effective SAT studying for procrastinators is to have a third party that disciplines them and forces them to sit down and study. Signing up for an SAT prep course or scheduling outside tutoring sessions is the best way to do that. This way, you have to sit down and study for the exam regardless of whether you feel like it’s necessary. Moreover, someone will be there to make sure that you are on track.
For More Information
Need more help with your SAT studying? Check out these previous blog posts:
Want some more personalized help on the SAT? Check out CollegeVine’s Online SAT Tutoring Program. We pair you with your own private tutor who provides virtual guidance through your sessions. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll receive premium instruction from our top tutors, right in your home. You won’t just get a few tips and tricks from us, you’ll get in-depth strategies that are proven to help you increase your SAT score.