College Counseling: How to Prepare for the SATs

By Elizabeth Sirianni

This is the first installment in a series of pieces meant to guide students through the college application process. Follow along for tips, insight, and exclusive interviews with experts.

For sophomores and juniors, I’m sure any kind of talk about the SATs has worn out its welcome. However, for those who are still wondering what they can do in preparation for them, feel free to continue reading. First and foremost, take the practice tests given to you by your guidance counselor; they will give you a feel as to what the test is like as well as reveal what subjects you need to improve on. SATs are timed, so give yourself about three hours to complete each test.

Once you find out what areas to improve on, check out Khan Academy for official SAT practice. I recommend this site in particular because you can use any previous PSAT scores into the system so you can start studying at your appropriate level straight away. Also, you can get a personalized practice schedule based on the date you are taking the actual test.

Even reading books or articles of your choice can help prepare you for finding the main idea of a piece, which is commonly asked on standardized tests. This can also help you with expanding your vocabulary, identifying theme and tone, and making connections to another text or just to the world in general. Writing practice essays will also be helpful in strengthening your ability to make claims, as well as finding evidence to support your argument.

In terms of math, memorize key formulas like y=mx + b and a2  + b2 = c2 to recognize solutions more clearly on the test. Furthermore, make sure you are able to divide, multiply, and solve equations without a calculator as there will be a no-calculator section. Lastly, practice rounding and simplifying as these are easily forgettable steps that may be necessary to get the correct answer.

In the end, standardized testing is very important and should be taken seriously. However, do not let it destroy your mental health – no test is worth that. Make sure to relax and take breaks while studying, as this will allow your mind to get some much-needed rest. Eat a nutritional breakfast the morning before the test, and when the time comes just do your best.