“Practice makes perfect” is an old saying that everybody knows. But is it true? We’ve all practiced something over and over again, but rarely does that guarantee us perfection. According to Vince Lombardi, “only perfect practice makes perfect,” so when you sit down to crank out some SAT practice, having a plan and the right strategies in mind is key to reaching your goals.
No matter what score you’re striving for, these four tips will help you optimize your preparation, and put you in the best place to succeed come test day.
1. Build Up Your Stamina
The SAT®, more than anything else, is a test of your endurance. At almost 4 full hours, just getting through the exam without blowing a gasket is a lot to ask – and you don’t want to “just get through it.” So, like a distance runner training for a marathon, make a practice plan that builds up your stamina as you go.
Start small, maybe just taking one full section, but under test circumstances (i.e. quiet room, no distractions, with a timer), and gradually work your way up to where sitting for 2-3 sections at a time is no sweat. Then sit for some full-length practice tests.
2. Stay Consistent
Now you probably don’t have time to take full four hour tests every week. As a matter of fact, you probably feel like you don’t have any time at all! We know it’s stressful, and that a lot is being asked of you, but the best way to stay ahead is to stay consistent with your practice.
Taking a week or two off from SAT® work may not sound that bad, but breaking that routine and turning off that part of your brain can be detrimental to your progress. As you build up that stamina, you’re going to want to sit for a few hours at a time, but even when you can only dedicate a little bit of time toward your SAT® work, just looking at a few practice problems a day can make all the difference.
3. Study Without Studying
We know, we just lamented how little time you have and how stressful it all is, and then we told you you should study for your SAT®s every single day. But you can stay consistent without burning yourself out.
If you just took a four hour practice test yesterday, you’re not going to want to think about SOH-CAH-TOA or independent clauses for a long time – so instead of dragging yourself in front of more practice problems, mix in to your routine some less strenuous activities that don’t feel like “studying.” There are plenty of apps that gamify vocabulary memorization or mental math. Make a few flashcards for memorizing formulas. Read through a passages from a reading section – but just read it, underline a few things, and don’t answer any questions. Putting in a little time without making it feel too strenuous will help you gain that consistency without overdoing it.
4. Trust The Process
It may feel like you’ve been studying for the SAT® for forever, and that the light at the end of the tunnel just doesn’t exist…but we promise you’ll get there. Just like anything else, getting good at the SAT® is a matter of practice – remember, the SAT® doesn’t test how smart you are, or how much you know, the SAT® tests your ability to take the SAT®. So if you stay consistent, build up that stamina, and put in the work, you will get better.
And if you ever need some additional help making a plan or staying consistent, get in touch with one of our Academic Advisors – whether it’s self-study, private tutoring, or an SAT prep class, we can help you find the resources, and the right program to ace your SAT®!