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Lucas Fink

How to Make Your SAT Prep Stick

When studying anything, SAT topics included, there’s the constant, underlying danger that you may forget what you’ve learned. Remember that Spanish quiz in seventh grade? The one you studied for the night before, but came into class feeling totally unprepared for? Or maybe it wasn’t seventh grade; maybe it was last week. Most of us know the feeling pretty well.

So while you’re prepping for your SAT, how can you make sure that the things you grasp don’t just…slip away?


Enlist a friend as a study buddy

Unlike your other tests, you don’t have to choose from the people actually in your classes to study for the SAT with. Since most kids are going to take it anyway, you can pick and choose just about anybody in your year to practice with. Doing it with a friend might really make the whole thing a lot more enjoyable, which is important for avoiding SAT prep apathy.

But the most important thing about working with somebody else is that it makes you actually engage with the questions. If you’re working together, then there will constantly be one person explaining their process to the other—and that’s good for both sides. The person explaining has to clarify their thoughts rather than just answering the question and moving on, and that helps them to remember the experience. Likewise, the person listening has to try to follow the thinking of their friend, which gives them something more personal to interact with than the coldness of an SAT prep book alone. Going back and forth acting as “teacher” and “student” is a great way to approach this so neither person is left just being silent.


Really pick apart practice SAT questions

After every practice question, your goal should be to know exactly how that question was created. You should strive to be able to write the test yourself, even if you’re not planning to apply for work at the College Board and write SATs any time soon.

Do not just get the answer and move on. It’s not about the answer; it’s about the process. You want to be sure that you understand in your bones why you arrived at the answer and how it could have gone wrong. You’re probably going to see a question that tests a similar logical process on your actual SAT, whether it’s in reading, math, or writing, so make sure that you take a good hard look at it. After that, try to write a similar question yourself using slightly different details.


Locate your weak areas and focus on them

If you’ve gotten a few function questions wrong, for example, spend a whole lot of time just repeating that one type of question. In order to do this, you’re going to need the right kind of materials, though. Unfortunately, the Official SAT Study Guide doesn’t cut it, here, since it just doesn’t have sections devoted to specific types of questions (like math functions) that you can focus on. Magoosh’s SAT offerings are better suited for it.

But even if you don’t have a whole lot of questions that work on the same skills, you can still use this focus—just repeat those same questions. I know, I know, it sounds dull. But the logical process that you go through to get the answer is the focus. By repeating the or question(s) from week to week, you can help drive home the strategy you need, and that strategy may prove pretty helpful on your SAT.


About Lucas Fink

Lucas is the teacher behind Magoosh TOEFL. He’s been teaching TOEFL preparation and more general English since 2009, and the SAT since 2008. Between his time at Bard College and teaching abroad, he has studied Japanese, Czech, and Korean. None of them come in handy, nowadays.

One Response to “How to Make Your SAT Prep Stick”

  1. Linda Kaye says:

    Of great importance is to begin studying months before the SAT and work regularly and consistently. Learning the grammar rules, increasing vocabulary, and enhancing essay skills– each is a time consuming endeavor.
    Also, use a book which includes detailed answer explanations so that the student is able to enhance skills by learning from inevitable mistakes

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