Taking the SAT® tomorrow, or next week, and need help? Wondering what you can do to prevent utter mayhem on this test you wish you studied for more? Procrastinators take heart! Below are valuable last minute tips to help you prepare as awesomely as possible in a short amount of time.
1. Get to Know the SAT®
If you don’t have a lot of time to prep for the test, the best thing you can do is at least familiarize yourself with it. Get a hold of a sample practice test and read through the directions, which are the same on every exam. An important thing to know is how to do the bubbling on open-ended math sections, which can be a bit confusing at first. If you’re a first-time test taker, this can be stressful to figure out, so I recommend getting your bubbling techniques down before test day. All of these tips can be found on the test itself– but a few highlights:
For bubbling on open-ended math sections, there are four slots for numbers. You can put your answer anywhere you want– For example, if your answer is 4.5, you can put it on the right-hand side or left-hand side. For fraction answers, don’t use mixed fractions, but use improper fractions instead. For example, if you want to bubble the mixed fraction, one-and-two-fifths, it may look like 12.5, which is misleading. Instead, use the improper fraction, seven-fifths (7.5). For decimal answers, you can round or truncate– Put as many figures as possible, unless the question specifies that you should round to a particular place. For a visual explanation of these tips, watch our video above. An important note for the multiple-choice section is that you are no longer penalized for wrong answer choices. This means that if you run out of time, you can fill in a random bubble– I suggest “B.”
2. Take a Practice SAT® Exam
Time yourself taking a practice test and see how you do. Timing is a crucial area to focus on and the easiest thing to tweak and improve. Don’t take the practice test on a computer– Studies show that people read 30% slower on a screen. Instead, print out the test and take it as if you were taking the real exam. If you don’t have time to do the entire exam, at least try one section. I recommend practicing the no-calculator math portion, as it’s probably the most challenging with time.
3. Check Your Answers
Check your answers to the practice exam with the explanations College Board released, reviewing the ones you got wrong. Don’t convince yourself that you’re right and the test is wrong– the whole point is to learn from your mistakes. For the math section, try the problems you got wrong again without looking at the answer choices. Try to master several stylistically different math problems– chances are, a couple of them might show up with different numbers on the real exam.
4. Program Your Calculator
I have a full video on how to program your calculator, which you can watch here:
Some programs I suggest that you download are:
— An equation solver (I like Algebra II Solver by Sam Hund)
— A slope solver / slope intercept equation solver
— A prime factorization program
— The quadratic equation
I have a separate video on what to pack for the SAT®, which you can watch by clicking on the link at left.
Here, I discuss all of the items you need to pack. There is also a list on your admissions ticket. Try to get everything ready the night before.
From as far back as the 1950s, studies have consistently proven that children who eat breakfast significantly perform better academically than their peers who do not. Recently, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded nutrition study suggested that eating breakfast improves math performance. But here’s the secret to the study– the kids ate breakfast between two 40 minute tests– i.e. they ate during a BREAK. So when I say eat, eat, eat, I really mean it. Eat breakfast and eat snacks during breaks.
Speaking of snacks, bring super snacks and water to keep you hydrated. Think protein and full nutrition for snacks, such as nuts, oatmeal, PB&J on whole grain, lunch meat, fresh fruit, and boiled eggs. Avoid highly processed or sugary foods. Eat the snacks during the first break, which is the longest break– even if you aren’t starving, this is your best chance. Also, avoid coffee unless you regularly have caffeine, as it can rattle your nerves– the natural adrenaline rush should be enough to fuel you. Coffee is also a diuretic and may stimulate an urge to urinate, which can be very distracting and uncomfortable during testing.
8. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Aim to get a good night’s sleep — 7 or 8 hours at least — to fuel your body and energize you for tackling the SAT®.
Another tip that may be of interest to you is to mediate. Meditation can increase focus and concentrate, and can perhaps translate to a better SAT® score. Spending 10 minutes meditating before the exam can’t hurt.
Overall, familiarize yourself with the test as much as you can, whether it’s reading over the section directions, practicing bubbling, or taking sample tests. Hopefully these tips were helpful, and good luck cramming for the SAT®!