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Chris Lele

How to Study for the SAT Over the Winter Break

Santa, snow, stuffed stockings, and SAT. Yes, one is obviously the odd one out—at least come Christmas time. But many students don’t realize that, besides summer, winter break is the longest time they will have away from school the entire year. Sure, presents are nice, as is waking up at noon. However, eggnog and multiple REM cycles aside, there is still plenty of time to get some serious SAT prep in there. Here is how.

Happy Holla-Days from Magoosh


A little bit a day goes a long way

Okay, I’m not so foolish as to bloviate from the mountaintops that you should study SAT on Christmas day. Indeed, I’m not saying you need to study everyday of the winter break. But if you can find a solid study regimen, say two hours four times a week, you are going to do much better than if you try to cram in a couple of three hour sessions.

And squeezing in some vocab prep (if you are taking the old test), grammar review, or mental math games in little 15 minute bursts scattered randomly throughout your break, your learning is going to go a long way. See, the brain doesn’t retain information long term by cramming. It’s when you review something that you’ve recently learned, and your brain has this flash of recognition, that you are learning—the more sessions, the more opportunities for the brain to make connections.


Have a concrete goal

If somebody said that you are have to run a race, but then fail to tell you the length of that race, it’ll be difficult to run. Really speaking, you’ll probably want to give up at the very beginning. But once you know what your goal is prep becomes a lot easier.

First off, take a practice test in the College Board book. Then think of a reasonable goal for a practice test that you’ll take towards the end of winter break. Write down that goal somewhere and hang it in a prominent place (though I wouldn’t recommend the Christmas tree). That way, you’ll be more likely to stay on track during those winter months when the temptation to nestle near the fireplace is strong.


Have a concrete plan

But don’t just flip open any old book to a random page. You’ll want to do your research and find a book or an online study program that is highly recommended. Once you’ve done that, set out some goals for the course of the winter break. If you need work on math, maybe 12/19 and 12/21 can be algebra review days. Of course, you’ll want to mix in some other sections into your prep. Perhaps, grammar rules review can be thread in there.


Do the heavy lifting first

I’m not talking about the really big present underneath the X-mas tree (you’ll probably open this first without my avuncular prodding). Rather, don’t leave the part of the SAT you dread the most till the end. The end, in this case, can be the end of study session (“ok, essay. Now that I’m tired of studying I’ll give you ten minutes of my time”) or the end of break (“Well, got to go back to school tomorrow, can’t avoid the trig review any longer”).

The thing is it is tempting to want to practice what you are already good at. But the SAT tests many concepts and you don’t want to excel at one concept at the expense of the areas where you languish. Do that “heavy lifting” first, when your brain is freshest and your resolve strongest, and you’ll see the difference test day.


P.S. Ready to get your highest SAT score? Start here.
About Chris Lele

Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 10 million views. You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog! You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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