It’s no secret that organised people tend to do better in exams (and in life) and the SAT is no exception. Very few people (if any) would be able to walk into the SATs without having studied, and I’d hazard a guess that everyone who scores above 1400 will have prepared months in advance for it. I have always loved math so it is no surprise that I started looking at the SAT 7/8 months in advance – not because I was worried, but because I was excited to take it and wanted to see how the college board assessed students in terms of mathematics.
I could write out different 4, 6, 8, 12 week schedules for you, but there are already lots of useful schedules out there in terms of rough planning.
The official SAT website has an 8 week that can be adapted to 3 months, the prep website Magoosh has a One Month Study Schedule and a Three Month Study Schedule that have good scheduling information, and of course, the best schedule I’ve found comes from Khan Academy’s blog: How to Prep for the SAT.
But what is most important with the schedule you decide is that you stick to it and that it works for you.
There is no point planning to wake up at 5 am every morning for an hour of distraction free study when you aren’t a morning person. This schedule is setting yourself up for failure, and you will feel bad everytime you miss a morning. Even if you do wake up and grab yourself to your desk, your brain won’t be awake enough to comprehend what you are studying.
These are the essential questions to ask when creating a study plan:
- When do I feel most awake?
- When am I most tired?
- Do I work better studying long hours or in short bursts? Can I find time for both? What should I study when?
- What surroundings do I need to feel ‘in the zone’?
- What are my biggest distractions (Note: Smartphone! Parents!)?
- Where do I study best?
- Am I good with routine? Is there someone I need to sit and study with?
Getting to know yourself and your own personal study habits are essential to creating a killer study routine. If you can’t study at home, then paying $3 to study in a quiet cafe is worth the investment – or go to the local library, its free! If you use a calculator on your phone, consider buying an old school scientific one – less distractions. If you study best at night, then part of your routine should include a nap, so you can stay up longer without missing sleep. Thinking about your study habits and learning about yourself are essential, not only for creating a SAT study plan, but this understanding will help you later in life when it comes to college, working and life in general.
After you come up with a study plan that is good for you the next step is to self assess yourself as to where you are math-wise. You can get a teacher to help you, or you can do this alone by taking a timed practice SAT test (this will also help you to get used to the test itself) or an online quiz to identify your weaker areas. Look at what type of math your weak areas are testing and then go back through the grades until you find the point where you lost understanding. Start from there. Study the fundamentals, check the basics of maths and work your way up through high school grades until you feel confident with the area and then, only then, start looking at sample questions or prep books. Don’t waste time getting confused early in your study schedule because again you will feel demotivated and waste time figuring out answers you weren’t quite ready for in the first place.
My two pieces of advice:
- Know yourself and how you study best
- Look at what the SAT is trying to test, look beyond individual questions