Which High School Classes Prepare You For the SAT?
When it comes to SAT prep, there are many time-tested methods. You might join a study group, take a prep course, or purchase study books. Maybe you’ll use online materials or take video tutorials. Whatever the case may be, there is no lack of SAT prep materials.
Still, many students wonder how their high school classes will help them to prepare. Specifically, some students want to know which classes are best suited towards SAT prep. While we don’t recommend choosing courses specifically for their value towards standardized test prep, we do believe that some classes and course tracks are innately better suited to prepare you for the SAT.
In this post, we’ll outline exactly which high school classes are best suited towards preparing for the SAT. To learn more, read on.
The SAT is often reading heavy, You’ll be asked to read extended excerpts from high quality texts varying from literature to scientific journals. You’ll need to be able to follow a variety of written perspectives and tone, along with identifying common literary techniques like alliteration, tools of persuasion and more.
The more you read, the better suited you’ll be to tackling these kinds of in depth texts. Taking a classical literature course that requires you to read deeply and critically will ensure that you’re prepared to tackle similar passages and questions on your SAT.
Most of the reading section of the SAT will test your reading comprehension skills. These are skills developed throughout your schooling, beginning as early as kindergarten, but if you begin to truly focus on them starting in 10th grade English class, you may be able to bolster your knowledge enough do well.
Immersing yourself in a variety of challenging texts is great practice for the SAT. Stay engaged in your critical reading in english class, but make a point to extend these skills towards readings across the subject areas. Readings in science classes and history classes make equally as good study material and are just as commonly found on the SAT.
Furthermore, you often become a better writing simply by reading extensively. If you want to perform well on the SAT essay section, you are best recommended to pursue classical literature in a critical reading environment. You’ll not only learn about what sorts of approaches and voices work best in certain situations, but you’ll also develop your own sense of voice and perspective to be used in your own writing.
Many students believe that in order to succeed on the SAT, they need to take the highest level of math classes available. While we can’t argue that these give you an edge, if we had to choose one area of math to master for the SAT, we’d choose the simple, unassuming algebra course.
Many students skim over algebra. It’s either uninteresting, unchallenging, or both for them. If you’re one of these students, we beg you to reconsider. In actuality, algebra provides the roots of most SAT math questions. While there is undoubtedly some trigonometry, geometry, and calculus mixed in there, algebra accounts for the root of most SAT math problems.
While many problems on the SAT will be more complex, foundational algebra will be instrumental in breaking them down and ultimately solving them. Geometry and specifically trigonometry will be useful also, but advanced algebra skills such as those typically taught in algebra II, will usually be the foundation of SAT knowledge.
Writing skills are extremely important on the SAT, even if you don’t plan to take the optional SAT essay section. By becoming a strong writer, you’ll be able to identify common literary techniques, grasp grammatical structures, and pinpoint the nuances of vocabulary.
Odds are that you write throughout the high school years, but classes dedicated to writing skills will be especially helpful. These commonly include freshman, sophomore, and junior year english classes, along with sometimes history or science classes as well, depending on how writing heavy they are.
In writing classes, focus especially on things like perspective, vocabulary, grammar, and literary devices. Even if you don’t employ these skills on the SAT essay, they’ll still be tested in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portions of your SAT.
The Bottom Line
Many students come to us begging for some sort of magical cheat sheet that will reveal the most beneficial high school classes in terms of SAT prep. While we wish we could offer a magical solution, the reality is that this list will vary significantly depending on your school and your personal strengths and weaknesses.
That said, in general we recommend that before taking the SAT, you have taken a minimum of Algebra II and sophomore year English. While these aren’t necessarily the magical formula to mastering the SAT, they do almost certainly serve as the foundation for most of the verbal and math questions posed on the SAT.
If you’re pondering when to take the SAT, we recommend that you meet with a guidance counselor to discuss your course track and how to maximize it towards success on the SAT. If you need more help preparing for the SAT, check out our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.
For more about preparing for the SAT, see these valuable CollegeVine posts:
Want to know how your SAT score impacts your chances of acceptance to your dream schools? Our free Chancing Engine will not only help you predict your odds, but also let you know how you stack up against other applicants, and which aspects of your profile to improve. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to gain access to our Chancing Engine and get a jumpstart on your college strategy!