Preparing for the SATs


The first Saturday of December has finally passed. For seniors, this means that we have taken our final SATs, and for juniors, it means it’s now their turn. These Collegeboard assessments are mandatory for admission to college and knowing this can make test taking stressful, but here are a few tips to make the process as easy as possible.


Take the SATs early, but only if you’re ready.

This seems like a contradictory statement. Let me explain. It is important that you don’t wait until your senior year to take the test. Many early action schools have deadlines in November or December, and to take your first SAT during your senior year doesn’t leave much room or time to retake if you need to. However, if you aren’t going to be prepared earlier, it is better to wait until later in the school year instead of rushing to take an earlier SAT that you are not prepared for. Many seniors recommend taking your first SAT in March of your junior year so that you aren’t studying for midterms or finals at the same time, and so that you have a chance to retake the SAT in later months if you’re not satisfied with your score.


Practice in Context

The best way to be prepared for SATs is to imitate the test as much as possible. It is important to do a lot of drills with actual SAT problems then to just memorize isolated vocab words or math formulas. Context is important. Also, it is important to take full length SAT tests while staying true to the time limit. A reason some people don’t do as well on the SATs as they would have liked is that they aren’t used to taking a four hour test. Mental endurance is a large part of test taking, and it is important to practice taking full length SAT tests beforehand so you don’t have trouble focusing during the real thing.


Prepare for the Day Before, and the Day of, Relax

Pack your bag the day before so you aren’t scrambling the morning of the test. Don’t forget extra pencils, your calculator, photo ID, and some snacks. When you walk into the test room, stay calm. Trust that you have prepared yourself well. The questions you see will be very similar to the ones you have practiced over and over again.


Best of luck to our juniors! While we don’t envy you in this process, you’ll find that a lot of seniors are willing to give you advice. Also, remember that the Trailblazer has a senior advice column that you can send questions to!