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Gamify Your SAT Prep

By Joey, IvyWise Master Tutor

Even as the SAT undergoes some significant changes in its switch to a digital format, the underlying reality of taking a major standardized test remains the same — you’ve got to do some prep work! As the hours of grammar drills and math flashcards march on, however, you may find your focus flagging and your energy sagging.

What’s a well-meaning student to do when they feel the siren call of the latest Netflix original series tugging their attention away from their notes? Play games, of course!

You might be skeptical, but study resources derived from theories of gaming can supercharge your test prep in ways workbooks simply can’t match. In fact, the “gamification” of learning has been underway for a while now, yielding excellent, readily accessible resources for students. Good game design combined with strong educational content can motivate students and make learning more engaging.

Here are five ways to get gaming when studying for the SAT:

1. Elevate

Elevate is an app offering games for practicing mental math skills that can save you time skipping the calculator as you complete the math section of the SAT. Want to prep for the reading and writing? You can also find fun brain games to help you practice your reading, writing, and vocabulary skills. Elevate is available for Android and iOS devices.

2. Magoosh

Magoosh specializes in test prep. Their Web platform offers a more traditional test preparation format, but the free mobile app is worth checking out if you want to gamify your prep. The Magoosh Vocabulary Builder has a dedicated SAT section still relevant in the digital era — perfect for bite-sized practice. Build your vocabulary skills while competing with other players in the app!

3. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a well-known source, but many students may be unaware of just how much gamification drives its engine. After making an account, you’re set to earn Energy Points and Badges from completing review work that you can then use to level up your avatar and more. The appeal of badges and leaderboards is universal — everyone wants to see their score improve and gain recognition for their accomplishments. Consequently, this sort of simple but compelling loop can keep you grinding forward through your SAT prep for hours.

4. Habitica

Built to help people develop better daily habits, Habitica can help you turn SAT prep into a daily habit through its RPG quest structure. Users are motivated by receiving in-game rewards or punishments. Check out its associated Wiki for all the ways you can use Habitica to amp up your studying! Since Habitica is not test-specific, students who feel motivated by the app can continue to turn to it to stay on top of tasks in college and beyond.

5. Design Your Own

Students who are really looking to get creative should consider making their own games. To guarantee success, aim to create a game with four key traits: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation. For most test takers, their goal will be clear-cut (improving the skills needed to ace your exam), and participation in the game is certainly voluntary if you’re the one building it. Consequently, all you need are a few rules and, better yet, rewards! Look to any of your favorite games — from childhood, sporting events, arcades, or decks of cards — for inspiration on what makes it fun to continue pushing forward against self-selected challenges. You can even get your friends involved and help keep one another engaged to reach peak motivation.

Preparing for standardized testing can be overwhelming, so taking a new approach to make your studying and prep more fun can help you not only look forward to your test prep but also assist you in achieving your goal score. At IvyWise, we help students prepare for all college entrance exams. Our team of expert tutors works with students to help them identify areas of improvement and create customized and effective test prep strategies to make their prep fun and engaging. For more information on IvyWise’s test preparation services, contact us today.

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