The SAT Is in One Month – and You’ve Waited Until Now to Study. Here Are the 5 Most Important Things You Need to Do.
We all know the feeling: a big test or project has been hanging over your head for weeks, maybe months. After putting off the work you needed to do until later – tomorrow, next week, next month – you look at your calendar and realize with dread that the deadline is only a month away.
But if the big test happens to be the SAT, your situation is far from hopeless. In fact, in just a month, you can significantly increase your chances of scoring well on the SAT. The reason you haven’t been studying doesn’t matter now. What you do with the next month does, and so does your commitment to getting a great score on the test.
In the list below, we share the five most important things to do in the next four weeks. Think of this list as a condensed guide to SAT success; you’ll need to follow all five steps in order to get the best preparation. Armed with a great attitude, a desire to succeed, and plenty of pencils, here’s what you need to do:
- Use high-quality resources. Preparing for the SAT is all about practice. That means practice questions that correspond accurately to those you’ll see on the test, content review that advises you on everything you’ll be tested on, and practice tests that reflect the challenge and complexity of the actual test.
Any of the commercially available prep books will offer reasonable approximations of the test, but to be sure you’re getting an accurate sense of the real SAT, as your test date gets closer, be sure to practice with materials provided online by the College Board.
- Create a study schedule. With just four weeks to go, you need to make every day of studying count. A study schedule should be an organized plan of attack: what you’re going to study, when, and for how long.
This is a critical step in your test preparation. Since you have a lot to cover in the next four weeks, you want to make sure that you’re doing everything you need to do. The content should focus on your weaker subjects; taking practice tests, as suggested in Step 4, will help you identify those.
- Know what to expect by familiarizing yourself with the test format. For this step, be sure to cover how the test is scored, what content is covered in each section, and how much time you have to complete it. Knowing what you’ll be tested on will help identify your strong and weak spots in the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math sections.
- Take at least two complete timed practice tests under realistic test conditions. You’ll get a feel for how questions are asked and how you perform in a testing scenario. Not only will this help you track your progress throughout the month, it’ll give you crucial experience with the time pressure you’ll face on test day. Pacing is an important component of test success, and you want as much experience as possible.
Your first practice test will be also a benchmark that you’ll use to gauge what you need to work on over the next four weeks. Use this first test to help plan the study schedule discussed in step two. Be sure to follow step five below, and comprehensively score it!
- Identify your weaknesses by scoring your practice test. Comb through your incorrect answers, identify your mistakes, and rework the problem until it’s correct.
Doing this will help you spot patterns in the mistakes you make. For example, you might realize that you struggle with finding the mean, median, and mode, or with questions that test subject-verb agreement. Once you detect these patterns, target the weak subject through extensive content review and hands-on practice.