What’s the best thing about summer? Wearing shorts and sandals every day? Sleeping in late? Spending the day at the beach?
While all of these are wonderful things to do in summer, the best thing about summer is the free time you have to prepare for the S.A.T.
Hear me out on this. I know that spending your summer prepping for a tough test like the S.A.T. is not your idea of a good time. You’d much rather see the new Amazing Spider-Man movie, grab an ice cream at Coldstone Creamery or hang out with some friends at the mall. However, summer represents the ideal time to get ready for the S.A.T. for a number of reasons.
First of all, there is no added stress of school. Preparing for the S.A.T. requires complete focus. This can be very hard to do during the school year when homework and extracurricular activities dominate your life. With summer free time, you should be able to schedule some blocks of time where your only concern is test prep.
Secondly, assuming you do some good test prep over the summer, you can take your S.A.T. early in the fall and be done with the test. While you relax in November and December, your friends will stress out during S.A.T. weekends. Wouldn’t that be nice? And even if you don’t get a great score in early fall, you will still have another chance (or two depending on the school admissions deadlines) to retake the test and improve.
Really, it goes without saying that summer is a great time to prep for the S.A.T. The question is thus, what is the best way to prepare for the S.A.T. over the summer? Here are five ways to spend your summer gearing up for test day:
1) Take a Course: depending on where you live, there are a variety of courses throughout the summer. Some are long, some are short. CROSSWALK, a tutoring company servicing the Monterey Peninsula, runs several S.A.T. and A.C.T. Boot Camps. Check here for information.
2) Self-Paced Study: grab an S.A.T. study guide, like the Official S.A.T. Study Guide. This book is produced by the College Board, which is the same organization that produces the S.A.T. This book has great strategies and tons of test questions. You can even visit Khan Academy to find video solutions for most problems.
3) Hire a Private Tutor: since not all students feel comfortably studying independently, a private tutor is an excellent option. Be sure to look for a tutor with significant experience (more than three years). More importantly, make sure the tutor’s personality and style will allow for positive and productive sessions.
4) Set a Routine: no matter what you do, you will need a structured routine. Even if you just do one thing, like the College Board’s S.A.T. Question of the Day, make sure you do it routinely. I once had a student that blocked out four Saturdays leading up to the S.A.T. One each Saturday, this student took a full length practice test at home. Four weeks of this routine had the student primed and prepared for test day. His brain and body was ready for test day and he walked out with a 2200 overall score and never took it again. The five week routine was difficult, but it was a short term pain for a long term gain.
5) Read: remember that the S.A.T. is a reading test. Almost 30% of all of the questions on the test are passage-based reading questions. As for the rest of the test, even if you think it is a math or writing assessment, you are tasked with reading the information presented before uncovering the right answer. So read, read and read some more. Read actively, meaning you annotate what you read and ask yourself lots of questions while you read like “what is the purpose?” or “what action does the author want me to take now?” The more you read, the more prepared you will be.
So summer can still have trips to the beach, visits with friends and ice cream parties. You don’t have to give up your summer to get ready for the S.A.T. Nevertheless, be sure to find ways to be productive during your free time. Carve out some predictable and routine blocks of time to get yourself ready for test day. Don’t let summer pass you by without a little S.A.T. prep. If your future is important to you, then the Amazing Spider-Man and Coldstone can wait for another day.