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Anika Manzoor

How to Make Yourself Study for the SAT

Very few people would say that they enjoy preparing for the SAT. Well, okay, I was one of them, but only because I trained myself to do so. Whether you’re self-studying or doing assignments for a class or tutor, here’s how to beat procrastination and motivate yourself to reach all your SAT goals.

Follow our exam lifehacks

If you’re just beginning your SAT prep journey, drop everything and follow every single tip in the “one month before” section immediately. They are simply pure gold.

Download the Daily Practice app

The Daily Practice for the New SAT app is a great way to ensure that you are at least getting a daily intake of SAT practice, however small it may be. Pair this with the Seinfeld method (see infographic) to make sure that it becomes a habit!

Hold yourself accountable

Have an “accountability buddy,” a non-family member that can remind you to fulfill your SAT duties. Better yet, find a friend who also is studying for the SAT and serve as accountability buddies for each other (and study together when you can get the chance). You can also make yourself accountable by announcing your intentions aloud, either to yourself (“Right now, I will finish 30 math questions and I can’t stop me!”) or on social media. You may feel a little silly doing so, but the best way to find accountability is to get others involved in your plan.

If you don’t need technology, put it away!

If you are studying with prep books, keep your electronics as far, far away from you as possible—make them hard to get to if you have to. If you are studying with online resources, use some of the apps mentioned in the lifehack infographic to make sure you’re not distracted by addictive websites. In any case, your phone probably has no business being near you.

I know. I know it’s hard. But you have to put it away.


….But take advantage of technology, too

As long as you use it wisely, technology can make your test prep more interactive and thereby, less boring. We already wrote a post on some great apps and websites you can use for the new SAT, so here are some more to add to the bunch:

  • Write Or Die. This brilliantly ruthless app can help you speed up your writing pace for the optional essay section. You start off by setting how many words you want to write, the time limit, and the “strictness setting.” Once you begin writing, you will face repercussions if you stop based on your strictness setting—from gentle reminders to keep going to cruel deletions of your text. I prefer the latter.
  • Grammarly. This Chrome extension corrects your spelling and grammar more effectively than built-in grammar checkers for word processors. It works on many websites, including Write or Die. The only exception is Google Docs probably because it prefers users to create documents within their Grammarly account. The app is not without some bugs and annoyances, but it’s still a useful tool for improving your writing skills and understanding of grammar for the SAT writing and essay sections.
  • Spreeder. Although it is not expected nor even encouraged that you learn to read 1,000 words per minute, Spreeder can help you develop faster reading skills if you are on a time crunch for the reading comprehension section. Although there are other speed reading services, Spreeder is great because you can copy and paste reading comprehension passages from online prep materials directly into the app.     


Apply SAT Strategies to your homework

Just because you’re doing your homework doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare for the SAT simultaneously! Make a habit to actively read texts assigned to you in your English, History, or even Math classes if applicable; if you can’t directly write on the text, take notes on paper. Look up unknown words that you come across to build your vocabulary. You can even use the aforementioned apps in any essay writing or online reading assignments. All of these skills will carry-over to your SAT preparation, so you can save two birds with one hand!

Read the Magoosh blog!

If you really can’t get yourself to sit down and do some practice problems, a way to procrastinate productively is to read through and keep up with the Magoosh blog. It takes a lot less effort on your part while allowing you to absorb some really handy strategies and other necessary info you would need to know about the SAT. As a matter of fact, here are two additional articles on how to make SAT prep less miserable.  

Be positive and patient!!


I know that this is not really a tangible tip, but as mastering the SAT can be a pretty long and arduous process, it never hurts to be reminded that patience is key. Try not be hard on yourself if you’ve maybe procrastinated a bit too much or don’t see progress fast enough. Speaking from experience, once you do start seeing the improvements, motivating yourself to study will be so much easier. Just wait it out—you’ll get there!


About Anika Manzoor

A 2013 graduate of Grinnell College, Anika dedicated her first few years as a newly-minted professional to teaching. In addition to being an SAT instructor, she served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at a Malaysian secondary school for two years. Considering that both opportunities allowed her to explore fun ways to teach and relate to students who were otherwise bored out of their minds, she is excited to share that expertise on the Magoosh High School blog.

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