You can procrastinate no longer, Juniors. If you haven't already starting to think about SAT prep, it's time. We recommend that all juniors take the test at least once in the spring of their junior year, and that they spend two to four months preparing for said test. As of today, you have 7 weeks until the March test, 14 weeks until the May test, and 19 weeks until the June test. But have no fear--I'm not throwing you into the deep end just yet. I’m going to ease you into the realm of college admissions tests by talking about goal-setting for the SAT.
GOAL 1: Set up a study plan
Wouldn't you know it? PowerScore has a 12-Week Study Plan to whip you into shape for the SAT, which is perfect for the May test and can be adapted to move more quickly for the March test or more slowly for the June test. We think of everything, don’t we? This plan is written for students who are studying with The Official SAT Study Guide, but it can be supplemented with other test prep books, such as the SAT Bible Trilogy (if you have purchased the PowerScore Bibles, feel free to email me and I’ll send you a customized study plan that includes the books). Review the 12-Week Study Plan this week, incorporating deadlines and tasks into your own personal calendar.
GOAL 2: Determine if you need additional help
Only you can determine whether you need professional help to prepare for the SAT. If you haven’t already taken an official SAT, I suggest printing the free practice test on the College Board’s website. Take the test under timed conditions, and then score it using the guide at the end of the test. Compare your score to the average scores of the freshmen class at your prospective college (you can find this information on the college’s website or through the College Board’s College Search). If you’re in the target range, independent study is a good way to prep for the test. But if you fall short of the average acceptance scores, consider courses or private tutoring.
GOAL 3: Learn a minimum of 500 vocabulary words
No matter what the College Board or your guidance counselor says, vocabulary is vital to your Critical Reading score of the SAT. It’s important, however, to study words that frequently occur on the SAT, rather than long lists with words that have never occurred on the test. I suggest memorizing the first 500 Repeat Offenders listed in our Free Help Area. That’s roughly 70 words a week for the March test, 35 words a week for the May test, and 26 words a week for the June test. If you conquer the first 500 words, then consider the words in the last two decks of flash cards. And as always, remove any words that you know and only study the ones you don’t know.
GOAL 4: Memorize relevant math formulas and relationships
While the SAT provides every formula you need to know on the SAT, it’s important to memorize these formulas so that you don’t waste time flipping back and forth in the test booklet to look them up. Plus, memorization of these formulas often demonstrates an understanding of them. Additionally, there are a few formulas and relationships, which are neither required nor provided, that if known, can help you with some shortcuts on the test. So start studying our SAT Math Bible flash cards now to have an edge on test day.
In the coming weeks, we will look at some more specific test prep tricks, but for now, it’s important to get a plan in place and commit to it. These weeks of study may seem torturous, but they can change the next four years of your life. Seems like a small investment, especially given the huge return.