The best way to study is different for each student. A few self-directed learners do well just using The Official SAT Study Guide (aka The Blue Book) and taking practice tests on their own. Others need an additional, more detailed book that breaks down the test patterns for them which helps them as they work through the practice tests in the blue book. Still others need a more structured environment in a classroom, where test experts guide them through the patterns and the tests in the blue book. Only you can determine which method is best for you.
But if you are like most students, you’ll likely find that the interactive design of a live course is the most beneficial way to study. The best SAT prep classes are motivating; you are engaged by an interesting, expert instructor while being held accountable to a group timeline that allocates study time. The teacher clearly outlines a limited course of study, instructing you to only study content and strategies that are beneficial to your score. Students who choose independent study, on the other hand, are forced to create their own study plan and find their own motivation to commit to it. Plus, these students often end up over-preparing, reviewing content like punctuation and trigonometry, which isn’t even tested on the SAT.
A good SAT course will not only review the content that this tested, but also reveal common patterns and secrets of the test. Its instructors will tell you that “who” and “whom” have always been used correctly in the Writing section, that a cylinder question in Math tests either volume or hidden triangles, and that common wrong answers in Reading questions use Extreme language. A student who self-studies can discover these patterns, too, but most SAT experts will tell you it took them years of 40-hour work weeks to unlock the secrets of this test on their own. You can gain their expansive knowledge in a fraction of the time by enrolling in an SAT course.
Timed practice tests are integral to your success on the SAT, and most SAT courses offer proctored practice tests. The key, though, is to use official SATs and to take the test in conditions as similar to the real testing situation as possible. By doing so, you will increase your stamina, your speed, and ultimately your accuracy. While an independent learner can take a timed practice test at home on the kitchen table, he cannot simulate the proctor, the student-filled room, or the pressure and the vibe of a testing center. Taking official practice tests in a course, however, most closely resembles the real testing day.
Again, you are the only person who can determine the best method of study for you. But if you choose an SAT course—especially a course from a reputable company like PowerScore—you can’t go wrong. The knowledgeable instructors, the premium curriculum, and the wealth of practice opportunities are sure to increase your score.