How to prepare for the SAT

Mackenzie Lawrence, Staff Writer

The SATs are intimidating for everyone, no matter how prepared you may think you are.

When Stephen Decatur High School students sat down for the school-funded free SAT last week, many didn’t know what to expect. This is because, for the past few years, they have been in quarantine and either unable to take the test or unaware of previous SATs and the PSATs. If you’re not sure about what to expect or what to do when studying for the SATs, don’t worry. This is your guide for preparing for your SAT.

The SAT, previously referred to as The Scholastic Aptitude Test before it was changed to just the SAT in 1993, helps college admissions offices know your knowledge levels before deciding whether to accept you into their college. In short, it is a college entrance exam, administered by the nonprofit educational organization College Board.

The exam has two main sections: Math, and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Each section’s scores range between 200-800. Your final score for the exam can range anywhere from 400 to 1600.

When it comes to preparing for the SAT, you want to start as soon as you can. You should never cram all of your studying in for the last minute. You should also create a schedule so you know what you’re doing every day and you know that you have covered everything that is on the test.

College Board says that you should study using the official SAT practice that is provided on Khan Academy, an education company that helps students study efficiently. This will help you know the areas you are good at and the ones you need to focus on.

College Board also stresses that you should take a full-length practice test before the real SAT. They made several practice tests on the Official SAT Practice page available for free.

“Our research shows that your score on an official, full-length practice test taken after studying and within a couple weeks of your test date is highly predictive of the score you’ll receive on the actual SAT,” according to the College Board Blog.

Stephen Decatur High School previously provided a SAT Prep class, but stopped providing it last year due lack of students signing up to take the class. Decatur English teacher Stella Malone taught the reading and writing portion of the prep class, while Math teacher Brenda Hommel taught the math portion.

Since the class has come to an end, Malone likes to teach a little bit about the SAT in her English classroom to help her students get a better grasp on what they will need to know in order to get a high score on the exam.

“College Board typically chooses the most obscure grammar skills and problems, expecting the students not to know them, so those are areas I like to target,” she said. “Right now, I am incorporating SAT style questions and problems in the grammar section of my class.”

Malone said she hopes that other teachers also would include these skills in their lesson plans, so students have a better understanding of what will be on the test.

“Students should know that the test does not define them,” she said. “It is just a snapshot of their academic ability at that time… When talking about the difficult questions that the SAT includes, it often leads to them wanting to give up because they feel lost and confused.”

Malone added that she wants her students to know that the test is not the “be-all and end-all,” she said. “Life has many paths and doorways to the future.” She just wants them to try their hardest and not give up when the questions get difficult.

The trick to getting a good score on the SAT is to practice. Whether that’s doing practice tests or studying on Khan Academy, all students should make sure they practice before jumping straight in to the test.

The SATs are turning digital in the spring of 2024. This means that the test is going to be on a laptop or tablet instead of on paper and it will take 2 hours to complete, compared to the 3 hours it took in the past. The scores will also be available faster than before and the test is unique to each student rather than the same for everyone. As of right now, the test is still on paper but in just a few years, that will be a whole different story.

If you want to sign up for the SAT, see Mrs. Wells in the CRT Office.