I hated the SAT. I still hate it. It doesn’t really measure your intelligence, which is made up of so many different qualities. Intelligence isn’t just a number–it’s about how curious you are, how you progress, your ability to shift perspectives and take on problems.
The SAT tries to reduce all this into a number in the best way it can. And whether students like it or not, if they want to get into an excellent school, their number should be a big one.
I got 2150 on the SAT when the highest score you could get was 2400. It’s a pretty darn good score. And I got it by doing these three small but pivotal things to prepare.
1. Bought SAT Vocab Flash Cards
Whether you have a stunning vocabulary or not, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care how many times you read the Lord of the Rings or even the dictionary–the SAT has a handpicked set of vocabulary words they want you to know. This is because a lot of them will come in handy when you’re expected to use them in college papers. Best part? They’re cheap. Spend just fifteen minutes on a set of 25 each day until you’ve got them all down.
2. Studied with a One-on-One Tutor
No, I did not take an SAT prep class with my peers at high school. Are you kidding? How distracting is that? When you go into the SAT, it’s just you in there. You can’t lean on your friend for help. So, these kinds of classes don’t really go far as a proper “dress rehearsal” for the real thing. To really get into it and get a sense of the pressure? You need a one on-one-tutor who will coach you, and then give you time to work. Getting a tutor usually ensures an automatic 200-300 point boost.
You don’t even have to meet that often. I met with mine for three months every other week and increased my score by 400 points.
3. Used Multiple Practice Books
Every month, I went to the library to get an SAT practice workbook. I paced myself, completed the workbook, and then found a new one. As much as you might hope that your exam will be very similar to the one you studied, it’s completely random. So, you want exposure to as many kinds of questions as possible. Most important? You want the rhythm of the test. You want to be able to do it intuitively, in a way. This is why you always need to time yourself according to the limits presented.
Please, use these three small commitments early on–even as a freshman, you can do little things here and there to prepare you for it. Hopefully, by the time of the exam, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.