Although some universities have made ACT and SAT test scores optional in the past few years, high SAT test scores remain a great way for students to set themselves apart from the rest of the applicant pool. If your college of choice requires the SAT, or if you just want to impress the admissions committee with your high score, preparing for the test is vital. You must be sure to prepare for the test so that you are ready when the time comes to take (and ace) the test.
Giving Yourself Time
College admissions testing can seem difficult and overwhelming, but if you give yourself enough time to prepare and retake the test if necessary, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. Life happens, and if you give yourself ample time to prepare for the test before you take it your junior year, you add a bit of room for life to throw you curveballs without it throwing a wrench in your college plans. It all boils down to one main action: to give yourself time to be successful on the SAT test.
Preparing Early (and Thoroughly)
Students should start studying SAT materials as soon as possible. While college admissions test prep should be on your mind as soon as you enter your freshman year, the actual process of studying for the test shouldn’t be put off much longer. Familiarizing yourself with the material early on will allow you to learn how the SAT asks questions. Establishing good test-taking strategy is truly half the battle.
When Should You Actually Start Testing?
It is best to start more tangibly preparing for SAT testing in the fall of your sophomore year. At that point, you have nearly two years from the time you begin studying to the time you need to start adding your scores to your college applications. This gives you enough buffer, and it allows you time to earn the score you deserve—so that you can show the college admissions committee that you will be an asset to their campus.
A Built-In Buffer
Studying SAT materials should begin to take priority around sophomore year, the earlier the better. This buffer gives you quite a bit of time to successfully handle the SAT test before it is time to apply to colleges in the fall of your senior year. This is an important space to have built into your college application timeline because it ensures that you will be able to have enough time to restudy and retake the SAT if needed. Whether or not you are happy with the results of your first sitting, just knowing that you can have a second chance eases the anxiety and pressure of the moment. This alone allows students to perform better on test days.
Studying for the SAT Test
While studying SAT preparation materials can seem like an overwhelming task, it truly isn’t nearly as daunting if you start studying earlier on in the process. By beginning the SAT test studying process earlier in your high school career, you give yourself more time to be successful. More time to prepare for the SAT test never hurt anyone’s chances of getting into the college of their dreams.
Everything the Preparation Process Entails
If you begin studying in the fall to early spring of the sophomore year, you give yourself plenty of time to prepare. That process asks students to take practice tests, evaluate their performance on those practice tests, register for the real deal, take the SAT, and retake the test if necessary. Of course, in a way, you have been preparing for this test since your first day of kindergarten. Just remember to use all of the test-taking strategies and information you have learned, and do your best!
Study a Variety of Materials
Everyone studies differently, but one of the best ways to ensure that you do well is by studying from a variety of sources. Different sources and materials emphasize different points. The best way to ensure that you are getting the most out of your studying time is by studying from several reputable sources in several different ways.
What to Do to Start Preparing for SAT Testing
There are plenty of things you can do to start preparing to take the SAT early. For example, you can simply start by attempting practice questions one at a time. Practice exercises will allow you to gauge your progress and learn your strengths and weaknesses so that you can hone in on those specific domains before you pay to take the real thing.
College Application Timeline
The college application timeline varies to some degree from student to student, but most stick to a similar track. From the time you walk into the high school entrance to the first day of freshman year, ambitious students aim for milestone achievements along the way. Outside of your high school campus, however, there is one part of the college application timeline that students need to pay particular attention to: the SAT testing timeline. Depending on your school, you may or may not receive guidance when it comes to preparing for, registering for, taking, and being successful at the SAT test.
The Importance of SAT Test Scores
Remember that while SAT test scores are important, they aren’t everything. They can set you apart from the rest of the pack and show the college admissions committees what you are made of. That is, if you are happy with your results. If you’re not, don’t stress out to the point where you become ill. It should also be noted that cramming is a very ineffective method for remembering information. This is especially true when it comes to the SAT test. Not to mention, there are other ways to strengthen your overall profile that might be a better use of your time and energy.
It’s a Process
The college application timeline process can seem daunting, but it really is manageable if you plan well. If you stay organized and on top of studying, scheduling, and testing, you will be able to exit the process largely unscathed. Beginning preparing for SAT testing around the fall to early spring of sophomore year allows you to have ample opportunity to successfully complete the exam.
Preparing for the SAT is a crucial step in pursuing higher education, and the timing of when to start preparing can significantly impact your success on the exam. While individual circumstances may vary, here are some considerations to help determine when you should start preparing for the SAT:
- Sophomore or Junior Year: It is generally recommended to start SAT preparation during your sophomore or junior year of high school. This allows you ample time to familiarize yourself with the content, develop test-taking strategies, and address any areas of weakness. Starting early provides the opportunity for gradual improvement and avoids last-minute cramming.
- Assess Your Readiness: Before starting your SAT preparation, it’s important to assess your readiness. Take a practice test to gauge your baseline performance and identify areas that require improvement. This assessment will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses and tailor your study plan accordingly.
- Goal and Target Score: Determine your target SAT score based on the requirements of the colleges or universities you plan to apply to. Research the average scores of admitted students to gain a better understanding of what you should aim for. Establishing a clear goal will help you allocate the appropriate amount of time for preparation.
- Test Date Selection: Consider the timing of your desired test date. The SAT is offered several times throughout the year, so choose a date that aligns with your preparation timeline and allows you sufficient study time. Registering early for the test will also give you more flexibility in selecting the ideal date.
- Study Schedule: Creating a study schedule is essential for effective SAT preparation. Allocate regular study sessions in your routine, focusing on specific sections of the exam. Starting early allows you to space out your study sessions and avoid overwhelming yourself with intensive preparation closer to the test date.
- Seek Additional Resources: Alongside independent study, consider utilizing additional resources such as SAT prep books, online practice tests, and educational websites. These resources provide valuable insights, practice questions, and strategies to enhance your SAT performance.
Remember, every student is different, and the timeline for SAT preparation may vary. It’s important to consider your individual circumstances, academic workload, and extracurricular commitments when deciding when to start preparing for the SAT. Starting early and maintaining a consistent study regimen will give you the best opportunity to achieve your target score and increase your chances of admission to your desired colleges or universities.
Just a Small Reminder
Again, your test scores do not define you. Start preparing for the SAT test early. Be sure that you are studying SAT materials from a variety of sources. Prepare as well as you can. Do your best on the day of the test. Retake the exam if you need to. Take a deep breath. You’ve got this.