Prepping for the SAT

Many teens use SAT books. They help students prepare for an important test that may help or hurt them get into college. (Photo Courtesy of Gretchen Stern)

Most high school students have to complete the long exam known as the SAT at least once in their lives, which means having to study for it in advance — or in some cases, not think about it until you walk in the testing room. 

Different students have different approaches when it comes to the SAT. Some get ready starting weeks in advance. 

Alexis Baudreau, a senior at Leesville Road High School, said via text that “[her] parents got an ACT/SAT prep class online, and the PSAT was super helpful.” 

Marcelina Wolak, another student at Leesville, said via text that she signed up for a prep course twice a week for six weeks. “Every two weeks we would take a practice SAT, and the classes were 3 hours long. In those hours we focused half of the time on math and the other half on English. Then they also taught us how to eliminate different answers and avoid tricks the test makers try to trip you up with.” While some might say this is an unnecessary amount of work, she said, “It was helpful because it motivated me and my score improved significantly from the PSAT.” 

Multiple other students said in an Instagram poll that they used and recommended different prep books. “They really helped me work through problems and learn helpful strategies,” said Ashleigh Tyler, a junior at Leesville. 

Khan Academy is a useful tool I utilized starting about two weeks before the SAT. A really helpful thing about this study method is it lets you connect your account to your College Board account and put in your test date — then formulating a daily plan for you based on what your PSAT or past SAT scores show are your strengths and weaknesses.

 As an idea of what this looks like, I started about two weeks before my test and did one practice test and daily 30 minute activities in areas I missed on my PSAT. Personally, I think that reading through a booklet of tips gave me enough preparation to do well on the test, which simply goes to show that you should not be worried if you can not manage a prep course for whatever reason. 

Being ready for a big test is obviously advised by most people, but that does not always happen, and some take a more casual route. 

One student said she, “really did nothing but still got a good score.” 

A few other students said similar things, that they just skimmed through a test booklet or “just prayed and hoped things turned out okay.” While research does show that more time doing SAT practice is associated with higher scores, these students and many others are proof you may not always need an extensive course or long hours studying to do well. How much preparation you need, like many other things, depends on the person. 

What you do as the test date approaches is ultimately up to you. The SAT is taken by thousands of students every year, some who study hard and some who do not, so whatever happens is not going to completely determine your future — especially when you take into account some colleges do not even ask for your scores anymore. Whether you work hard or just wing it, the SAT is one obstacle you must overcome in your education.


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