Test prep season is upon us, and many of you may be wondering how to go about conquering the giant stress-monster that is the SAT. Well, we surveyed our team of college consultants to ask them what they did right to get good scores…and maybe what was not such a great idea. Here’s what they had to say when it comes to how to prep for the SAT:
Chris Elias, Brown University: I took a ton of practice tests and then carefully reviewed each question that I answered incorrectly. It definitely helped. I don’t think there’s some great trick or shortcut; you just have to put in the time practicing the actual test in test-like situations.
Lia Lenart, Harvard University: I bought one of those SAT practice books at first, and tried to use that. For me, it wasn’t that effective. I wasn’t motivated enough to study that way. I needed more positive reinforcement. So I enrolled in a class. The teacher knew exactly what her class needed: an incentive. The table we sat at was always filled with tons of candy. I had to view the test like a game. I’m competitive, so tapping into that allowed me to really focus and do my best.
Stephen Black, Harvard University: After taking the SATs cold junior year, I opted to go to a tutoring service to bring up my critical reading score (called “verbal” back in the day). I went for three one-hour sessions, which basically consisted of the tutor quizzing me and trying to improve my vocabulary. The sessions themselves weren’t too helpful, but they did spur me to study a lot more on my own.
Kevin Easterly, Johns Hopkins University: I didn’t do much to prepare outside of taking loads of practice tests for my AP Language class. I did well on the reading section, but overall, I would not recommend this at all! I shudder to remember how needlessly cold I went into the exam.
Ike Wilson, Yale University: I used a couple of guidebooks and also took a basic prep course in the months leading up to the exam. I think I took the actual exam twice overall, but I certainly don’t regret having taken the course, which was very helpful.
Mike Mochizuki, Brown University: I took an SAT prep class along with a lot of my friends. The most effective element of SAT prep was developing a familiarity for the test. When I finally sat for the exam, the format and the questions were familiar and I was relaxed.
For more tips and tricks to help you hack the SAT, check out some more of our articles.