4 Quick and Easy Tips to Help You Ace the SATs

Teen Vogue

Dream college, here you come!
By Andra Newman
October 13, 2015

Andra Newman is the co-founder of QuadJobs and former head of college recruitment for Abercrombie & Fitch + J.Crew

Like an athlete preparing for a big game, hitting your peak performance on the SATs requires a solid training plan, good coaching, and team support. Here are four tips to make sure you meet your goals.

Slow and Steady
Give yourself adequate time to prepare. “Students should study and plan to take their first SAT prior to the spring of their junior year,” advises Dr. Kat Cohen, founder of the NYC-based educational counseling firm IvyWise. “This will allow for more room for improvement, especially when there are also finals, AP exams, extracurriculars, and challenging courses to consider at that time of year.” Set weekly and monthly goals. You can intensify these goals as the test gets closer, and you’ll feel more confident because you’ve already put in the time.

Block Distraction
Take a hard look at the biggest challenges to your focus. Phone calls from friends? Turn off your phone when you’re studying. If social media is your siren call, try an app to restrict use. SelfControl blocks specific websites. Another app, Freedom prevents you from using the Internet at all.

Enjoy Yourself
For most of the students with whom I’ve spoken, creating the right environment can make a dramatic difference. “Studying for the SAT was not much fun,” said Hannah Needle, now a freshman at Harvard, “so I would give myself little rewards (such as snacks or a 15-minute Facebook break) every hour or so to make the work more bearable.” Play music that relaxes you. Burn a yummy candle. If you feel restless, plan on getting some exercise before you sit down.

Finding Support
Working with a strong tutor or registering for a prep course can offer additional structure to your studying, as well as valuable guidance — but if you can’t afford to go that route, fear not. “Khan Academy resources and practice tests are free, and can be super helpful to students studying for the new SAT,” suggests Cohen. “Students should take timed practice tests so they’re familiar with each section.”

So there you have it, four quick and super helpful tips to help you master the SATs. And remember, they’re not fun, but they’re a necessary evil, and once you’re done, you never have to take them again!