SAT Prep is like training for a Marathon

Every high schooler with college ambition wants to know, how to do well on the SAT?


The shortest, easiest answer is to be in it for the long haul: be dedicated in all your subjects, especially reading and math each year. The SAT evaluates math skills in Algebra 2, integrates reading and vocabulary with the analytic skills needed in college.


The College Board, the creator of the SAT, says that questions are designed to mirror the problem solving and modeling you’ll do in:


·         College math, science, and social science courses

·         The jobs that you may hold

·         Your personal life


For example, to answer some questions you’ll need to use several steps —because in the real world a single calculation is rarely enough to get the job done.


The questions are tough and they build on your skills.  A student who works at mastering academics is going have a leg up on the test that no amount of “tricks” can match. It’s like training for a marathon. A few sprints the day before may be helpful, but years of conditioning will produce the seasoned athlete.


But, what if I have not been thinking this way and not preparing for SAT for years in advance?


Good question! It’s never too late to start.  No matter how good you are in school, one of the surest ways to improve your score is to learn the test: what’s on it and how it is presented.


Then the questions won’t catch you off-guard and you can practice the skills you know will appear on the test, drilling extra where you need to. It doesn’t take ages to catch gaps in your skills, patch them up, then practice like crazy. The SAT questions, especially in math, usually combine two topics, such as volume and surface area. You’ll need to spot them both and apply the right principles.


Take a full-length practice test. Grab a test prep book out of the library, and do a section every day.  Vocabulary helps too. Be on the look-out for unfamiliar words when you read. Look them up and learn them. It doesn’t hurt to go over a word or two every day.


Can a SAT Prep tutor help?


Of course!  It is smart to a have SAT prep tutor work with you.  Especially if there are certain areas in your learning that need special attention. Like a runner training for a marathon, a good coach will assess your strengths and weaknesses, creating a plan and goals which build where you need it and push you to excel where you’re already strong.


Also like a marathon, the athlete’s own dedication matters too. Tutoring is not a super-soldier serum, but it can help you achieve your personal best.


Finally, face the anxiety.


The SAT does not define you. Yes, it matters, but your results will likely be an outgrowth of what you’ve been doing for a long time. If you’ve been engaging in learning and putting effort into school, the SAT will reflect that. If you haven’t, preparation will help. But even a stellar score isn’t everything in college admissions. It won’t make up for a lackluster transcript, and neither will it deface an excellent one. The SAT is one piece among many. You want to do your best, but not peg your admission chances to your score. The best way to take the SAT is as part of a consistent ethic of daily practice, so that the day you take the SAT is just another day.



Stephanie Pacheco, Subject Coach, Novastar Prep



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