What Is The Best Test Prep For SAT? – This is a Million Dollar Question.
If you’re a high schooler, or a parent of a high schooler, and you are scheduled to take the SAT test in the next few weeks or coming months, you must be as nervous as hell!
I don’t blame you. I would be feeling nervous too. Let’s face it, doing well on the SATs is a major determinant – but, thankfully, not the only determinant – of getting into the college of your choice. So, you definitely want to give the SAT test your best shot and do as well as you possibly can – right?!
So, with that in mind, and with our sole objective of getting the highest SAT score we possibly can, the question then remains: What Is The Best Test Prep For SAT?
Below, I give you 5 ideas that are no-nonsense, no fluff, and no time-wasting. With your hard work and determination, choosing one or a combination of these 5 ideas will, yes I said “will” – me and my experienced test prep tutors (all of whom are fully qualified teachers and college professors, by the way) have had many years of preparing students for the SAT tests, the majority of whom have increased their scores significantly, earned scholarships, and gone on to study at the college of their choice – yield good results.
So, the 5 ideas I present to you below, are tried and tested…and get results! And we’ve already agreed that that’s the objective. Right? So, here goes…
1 – Get a Specialist SAT Tutor
Tutors come in all shapes and sizes… literally! What I mean by this is that there are a number of different types of SAT test prep tutoring, and some may even be free!
So, for example, it may be the case that high school students, such as the honors students, tutor their peers through volunteer programs organized by the school. In addition, some teachers, especially those who teach math and English, may offer extra credit projects or special tutoring classes for SAT prep. These tutoring classes are usually offered for free, non-specialized, non-personalized, and within the confines of your regular teachers and school programs.
Private Tutoring ROI
An alternative to this is for you to find a private tutor. Obviously this will cost money, and to be quite frank it’s not the cheapest option. However, if you find the right private tutor for yourself, the investment made in private tutoring will be reaped x10, x100, x1000. What do I mean by this? Well, if you find the right private tutor to work diligently with you, working to eliminate areas of SAT test weakness and boost your strengths, it could mean the difference between getting into your college of choice and getting one or more scholarships for college – needless to say, that both of these things will have a major impact on your life in terms of potential career opportunities, and could make the difference between you leaving college being saddled with debt or not. So, with all of these things in mind, and looking at the bigger picture and the trajectory, making a small investment in SAT test prep with a private tutor really, really could be a life game-changer!
With all of that being said and done, I think that it’s really important to find the “right” private tutor for you. I am not keen on tutors who solely focus on “tips and tricks” or trying to “game” the tests. Nah! In my experience, that is not the way to go.
What you do want, is a private tutor who can identify your gaps in knowledge, and has the necessary subject knowledge to help you quickly fill in your knowledge gaps, and then go on to train you on testing strategies – there’s no “trickery” here, but careful processing, analysis, and strategy – such as understanding exactly what the question is asking you and using the process of elimination technique, or skimming and scanning when working through a reading passage, and so on.
Benefits Of A Personalized Program
Another major pro of working with the right private tutor is that that tutor will design a specific, personalized SAT test preparation program and timetable just for you. This personalized program should take into consideration your strengths, weaknesses, knowledge gaps, learning disabilities, College Board approved timing concessions, etc.
Drawbacks of the “Jacks”!
However, there is a major drawback to having a private SAT test prep tutor, “Oh no…what is it?” I hear you cry. Gosh! I’m sounding a bit Shakespearean there… I digress. The major drawback is that, at times, it feels as if every Jack and his sidekick thinks that they can tutor SAT test prep.
Get A Specialist SAT Tutor- Only!
Let’s be clear here. You need to find a specialist SAT tutor who has proven results. I think it is also best to find a specialist SAT tutor who has a teaching background since that person has been formally trained and should have years and years of experience of successfully imparting information to others. This is in contrast, to someone who does not have a teaching background but scored well on the test themselves, and then touts themselves as being a fab SAT tutor. The fact is, just because they did well on the test, it does not mean they have the necessary skills to help you do well on the SAT tests too. Nope, I suggest you stay clear of such “Jacks”!
2 – SAT Prep Courses
As with tutors, SAT prep courses come in a number of different shapes and sizes. Courses are available in-person locally and online.
Online SAT Courses
Online SAT prep courses can be a good option for people who want to simply log into a learning portal and go through the material therein at their own pace. I would say that a good online SAT course should contain a mixture of videos, learning materials, practice exam questions, and quick quizzes.
In-Person SAT Courses
Local SAT prep courses are good for those students who do better with in-person, in-class training. So, for example, if you want to hear a teacher or tutor explain a mathematics equation or review sentence structure, as opposed to reading it from a computer screen, an in-person course could be the best option for you. Some schools, libraries, and tutoring centers offer these types of group SAT courses for students, and sometimes they are free of charge.
Online SAT Prep Course: A Cost-Effective Option
An online SAT prep course can be a very cost-effective option, for those students who are really, really on a budget and want to work at their own pace, at odd hours of the day or night. However, remember that with this type of course, you are truly on your own and you will need to be very disciplined to both complete the course and also be tenacious enough to find the answers on your own to any of the questions you do not understand. Realistically, this can be tough and super stressful.
In-Person Course: Half-Way House Option
An in-person SAT test prep course, done locally, can be a half-way house option for students who are on a budget and who want to have a teacher or tutor with whom to interact and ask questions. However, remember that these types of courses are done within a classroom-style setting, which means that there will be students of many different levels and learning styles present. Some students may be great at math and can quickly whiz through the math portion of the SAT test; others may be excellent in the reading section of the SAT test. The question is, who wins out in the class when it comes to setting the pace and the questioning? As in a regular school classroom setting, it is usually the student with the loudest voice and the one with the most confidence to speak up in front of their peers who will get the most attention.
Be Ready to Speak Up!
So, you need to decide whether you are that student or not. Or whether, or not, right now is the time for you to be testing out if you are the “speak up” type of student or not.
Even if you are ordinarily a confident student in your regular classes, who doesn’t have a problem speaking up…that’s cool… however, SAT test prep is different and requires a different level of focus and determination, since it is going to have a major impact on your life choices.
With this in mind, maybe…just maybe…, even for the most regular confident student, an SAT course within a class-type of setting is not the best way forward at this time. After all, there truly is a time and place for everything. And this, in my opinion, simply is not the time. Just something to think about.
3 – Printed SAT Study Guides
These can range from U$30-U$100 depending on the author, and type and style of the guide.
When buying an SAT study guide, most experts recommend the Barron’s SAT Premium Study Guide, the Princeton Review SAT Premium Prep, or the Official SAT Study Guide, written by the College Board. Within each of these books you will find full-length practice tests, detailed outlines and directions of the SAT test, as well as vocabulary lists, and so on.
My Recommendation: The Official SAT Study Guide by the College Board
SAT study guides come in various formats. I recommend buying your SAT test prep guide online, where you will be able to read the book reviews first. Especially, since not all SAT study guides are created equal. You want the study guide that gives you the most up-to-date, detailed, and accurate information on the SAT and study strategies.
As an Expert Examiner of many years, I personally prefer the Official SAT Study Guide, which is written by the College Board, the SAT examination board. It makes perfect sense to me, that this book provides you with the most detailed and accurate information on the SAT test, since it is written by those who actually designed the test. The book is not only filled with helpful strategies, but practice questions too. The Barron’s SAT book also comes highly rated and recommended. In addition to practice questions and study tips, the book contains a 3,500-word vocabulary list, which could assist you in preparing for both the reading comprehension and writing sections.
4 – Review Your School Notes
Sounds simple, but most students do not do this. The SAT test is designed to test the accumulation of the knowledge you have acquired throughout your school career.
Wow…sounds major right?! Yes, and it is. However, do not panic.
Good study skills are imperative, especially note-taking and the rewriting of your notes for clarity and organization.
Components Of The SAT Test
The general SAT test consists of three distinct components: critical reading, mathematics, and writing. Reviewing your school notes is vital for SAT test preparation since you will be tested on the English language and mathematics that you have been learning in school. Flip through your English notes. Review proper grammar, sentence structure, and so on. For mathematics, review the instructions for problems you struggle with. If you have your notes or a previous workbook, do a lot of practice questions.
Whether you are taking the SAT Reasoning Test, or one of the SAT Subject Tests, you are quizzed on the information learned throughout your school career and not just in high school. Remember the mechanics of the English language is learned during the middle school years of schooling; they are then primed during the high school years. Also, basic math number work and simple equation systems, the formation of shapes, and rudimentary statistics are all learned during the middle school years (if not in elementary school), and then built on and extended at the high school level.
Don’t Be Afraid To Do This…
Never be afraid of picking up a middle school math textbook to refresh your mind about some of the basic concepts. Feel free to grab a middle school grammar book to help you remember the various forms of grammar and sentence structures.
In other words, when preparing to excel in your SAT test, be ready to fill in knowledge gaps and, also reinforce already acquired knowledge.
What’s The SAT Formula?
Knowledge + SAT Strategies + Hardwork = The Winning Formula
5 – Take LOTS of SAT Practice Tests
Again, sounds simple, I’m always surprised by the fact that some students don’t do this. When it comes to studying for the SAT, many students just go over their school notes and may flick through a study guide. These are all starting stages of the SAT test prep process.
However, the question posed is: What is the best test prep for SAT?
My advice is to take an SAT practice test ASAP!
In fact, as soon as you finish reading this post 😉 – get to practicing…even if not today…schedule a test-taking session within the next 2-3 days. Simply block out the time in your scheduler, sit down and do it. Do not procrastinate. The sooner you do it, the sooner you can move forward with your proper preparation plans.
If you have not taken an SAT practice test, how do you know exactly what you are preparing for?
Have you even looked at a recent SAT test?
SAT practice tests can be easily found online via the College Board website. I would recommend going to the College Board website to download the most recent versions of the SAT tests.
Once you have found a test, download it, and print it out. To save paper, and a few trees in the world 😉, print off the test double-sided.
Set Aside Some Time
Then, you will need to block out at least 3 hours in your diary and be able to sit in a quiet space, with no disturbances for that period of time. Take the time to read the instructions at the beginning of the SAT test. Make sure the answer grid is on a separate sheet of paper. You will need a pencil, eraser, and a calculator.
That’s it, you’re now ready.
Set the timer on your watch and go to the first section of the test. Once finished that section, within the allotted time, move onto the next section of the test. Do not go over the allotted time frame, and do not agonize over questions. Simply go through the test sequentially and do your best to answer each of the questions, in each of the sections.
Remember, this is simply a practice test. There is no point whatsoever in cheating, you will only be cheating yourself.
Once you have completed each of the sections of the SAT practice test within the allotted timeframe, mark your answers (or ask your mum or dad) using the marking grid. Tally your score and see where you rank.
At this stage, do not … I repeat do not let panic set in.
What you do need to do is think about which aspects of the test you find the easiest and which parts you find the most challenging.
SAT practice tests allow you to determine your strengths and weaknesses.
When taking and grading your SAT practice tests, you will see which areas of the test you need to improve on. For example, is it critical reading, writing, or mathematics?
Once you have done this exercise, you are now in a great position to determine which course of action is the best for you to reach your SAT objectives.
Transform SAT Practice Tests into SAT Study Guides
A good idea is for you to transform your SAT practice tests into SAT study guides. Once you know the correct answer to the critical reading and writing sections, you can use the practice test as a study guide. Read your sentence completions with the correct vocabulary answers and sentence improvements. They will help you learn vocabulary and enable you to scrutinize proper sentence structure. In terms of the SAT mathematics section, think about which formulas you had difficulty with. The formulas are outlined in your SAT test guidebook, but you must know when to use them and how. If you have problems, continue practicing and seek the help that you need from a specialist private tutor.
Familiarize Yourself With The Instructions
The critical aspect of taking many SAT practice tests is to get yourself fully familiar with the SAT test instructions and layout. After two or three practice tests, you should be familiar with the test layout. This includes each timed section, the directions of each section, the types of questions being asked in each, and so on. Of course, each individual question varies, but the overall directions for each critical reading, writing, and mathematics section remains unchanged.
Some Key Components
These are a few key components to starting your SAT test prep and getting the best test prep for SAT. You will discover that these basic steps are invaluable on the test date when you want to simply skim the directions and not waste valuable testing time trying to read and understand the test instructions for the very first time.
Phew!! Okay…so…that was a bit of a longer answer to the question: What is the best test prep for SAT?
However, it is such a good question, an important question, that I felt the need to elaborate in certain areas. I hope that you have gotten some good ideas and nuggets of wisdom from my post.
In My Opinion…
To finish, I would say that I do not think there is a single answer to the question: What is the best test prep for SAT?
In my opinion, to really do well in the SATs, it is necessary to use a combination of the preparation methods presented above.
Don’t Go It Alone! Far Too Stressful…Far Too Important.
I do, however, think that to try to “go it alone” – that is, to try to work without the strategic assistance of a specialized SAT test prep tutor – is a very tricky path to go down, especially if you want to score well. Can it be done? Of course, it can. However, it’s not a mean feat.
SAT test prep can get very confusing and very overwhelming…very quickly! If you absolutely do not need to “go it alone”, then DON’T.
The best test prep for SAT is to invest in a specialized SAT test prep tutor.
It’s a worthwhile investment that will reap you rewards in the short-term and for the rest of your life.
To book your FREE Tutoring Consultation Contact Us TODAY! We are expert certified teachers and university professors with many years of experience in test preparation. Sections of the SAT When taking the SAT Reasoning Test, you will see that the examination