The average high school student, wanting to pursue higher education will need to take the SAT to gain entrance to the college or university of their choice. Every few years the SAT changes and each iteration means that both students and teachers must adapt to the new form of the exam. Yet, the topics the exam touches base on are fairly consistent with algebraic questions and reading comprehension being the main focus.

You can just wing it and take the test without studying or preparing, but you would be doing yourself a disservice. Your odds of achieving a desirable score are dramatically higher when the proper steps in preparation are taken and followed through.

A simple list of  ‘Top 10 SAT Tips and Strategies’ can aid your study program, but a specific process in your learning style will help you retain more information. SAT revision programs are made up of consistent weekly studying, relevant subject matter drills, and finding accurate and authentic practice tests that are relevant to the test.

person taking exam by hand
Make sure to answer every question. The test will only count correct answers (Photo Cred: Annie Spratt on Upslash)

When and How To Take The SAT Math Test?

First off, how much time do you have? How much time do you need? These are two very different questions. The College Board, the official SAT exam designer, suggests an average of 2-3 months for preparation and practice. You can schedule a proctored exam in a shorter period of time, but it’s just safer to plan ahead and not risk missing a college application deadline or having other external influences affecting your SAT study plan.

Not everyone likes long multiple-choice exams, and if you do, you are among the blessed few. The SAT exam will mostly consist of multiple-choice questions, but it will also include a few student-produced response questions in the math section known as ‘grid-ins’. These questions do not provide multiple-choice options, but space for you to write out your own answer.

Throughout your SAT math revision, you will start to see your strengths and weaknesses surface and it will become more apparent where you need to focus your efforts. Improvement is the name of the game. It’s not good enough to just rest on your laurels. Maybe you are already proficient at algebra, but the SAT exam can always throw you a curveball. Make sure you are ready and know how to deal with the questions they throw at you.

Their SAT questions are often meant to be confusing. This is done to test your abilities and capabilities. The exam is not just about answering the questions, but about testing your ability to strategize and attack a problem with uncertain results. Seeing the forest through the trees can make this test seem less daunting.

Now that you know a few basics about the exam, boiling down your preparation within 2-3 months is a challenge in and of itself. An SAT math tutor can be a huge help in teaching strategy and outlining your path as your testing date draws near. A tutor will help you develop a step-by-step plan of attack that works ad for your learning process and fits your life active schedule.

teacher writes class notes on a chalk board in a class room
When you are stumped, try rewriting the question in your own words. Photo cred: Shubham Sharan on Upsplash

Alternative Resources for SAT Math Prep

There is a great deal of practice involved in reaching a desirable score on the exam because the questions can be esoteric. While it is just a question, you must filter through the minutia and there will be plenty of that.

One way to make the test less daunting is selecting an SAT math teacher to be your guide. Through their past experiences, they can provide insight into how the test questions are worded and what will be asked. Yet, some private tutors can come with high price tags.

Superprof is a great resource to find a math tutor. There are no commitments and your first session is always free. Another cost-effective alternative for SAT prep can be through online courses.

If private tutors aren’t your cup of tea, you can find near-infinite videos with a focus on math and reading on websites like YouTube and Khan Academy. These videos, while less interactive than a formal class, can also source some of the best teachers in the world.

Searching for a video such as ‘solving for the volume of a cylinder’ will bring up the most popular video in the database. You can also rest assured you are watching the best SAT math practice videos because each video has generally been upvoted and selected for its accuracy and insight.

Online courses like the Kahn Academy, offer free practice tests to anyone interested. They have even partnered with The College Board to make their SAT resources offering available to more people. Other online resources are also available and offer great resources as well as strategies that can get you test-day ready.

girl stress eating pencil
It can be stressful planning out your schedule and study sessions, but don't let it keep you from achieving your goal. Photo cred: JESHOOTS.COM on Upsplash

You Have Study Options

Self-studying is a path many take because it works on a budget and you determine your own pace and subject matter. The goal, of course, is to follow the patterns used in the actual SAT exam, but not everyone has such immediate access to all these extra resources.

At home, you can begin familiarizing yourself with the content and question styles of the proctored exam. Set a score goal and make a daily study plan for yourself. There are a plethora of resources on the web to learn test strategies and expand upon their suggestions. As said earlier, practice. This is the one guaranteed act that will consistently improve your performance and all-around understanding of the test.

If you are going to take the route of using a practice test, make sure they are official tests. Official practice tests can be usually found through the official SAT website, The College Board. While they will not be free, you will have peace of mind knowing that the questions are realistic and styled in such a manner that it will be recognizable when your test day arrives. Since the exam is constantly evolving, the official practice exams will be evolving too, so make sure you are using up-to-date practice materials.

Think of the practice tests as the real thing. Focus on a certain subject as you are going through the practice questions. A great tip for the reading section is to take notes as you read through the passages. Once you finish reading, review your notes, and through the questions. Look through the potential answers to see if any jump out at you. If not go one by one connecting it to the prompt.

On the multiple-choice sections, shift your mindset. Instead of looking for the correct answer. Look through the possible answers and determine which ones are incorrect. By doing this, you increase your odds of choosing the right question. Plus, once you’ve made it that far, often the correct answer is easy to see.

Everyone has a different study schedule, and you must find one that works for you. If you don’t, you risk not getting in the rhythm of things and flaking on your studies. This is a rookie mistake. Even if you are only studying once or twice a week, make sure to organize a schedule that you can stick to. With all of these tricks and tips, you will be ready to ace the SAT exam.

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Seth