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Preparing for the SAT

SAT Prep Instruction

The College Board intends for the SAT to mirror high school course content, but the fact remains that taking the SAT is a specialized skill. Professional instruction is the most proven way to develop the discreet testing abilities necessary for high scores. The main reason for this is the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable teacher, who can optimize the effectiveness of preparation by providing feedback and guidance as well as direction for SAT study and correction of common errors. SAT instruction is available from test prep firms in a variety of learning formats.

SAT Group Courses

SAT group courses may usually be taken either in on-site or online formats. On-site group courses are usually best for students who require the accountability of a regular class appointment at a specific time and in a specific place. In-person study allows face-to-face interaction with the instructor and student peers, creating a collective learning experience that for some types of learners can be more rewarding than remote or individual study. Online SAT courses require a higher degree of self-discipline, but they convey most of the same benefits along with the comfort and convenience of preparation at home or anywhere. The main disadvantage of online study is the fact that the student must depend on the technological infrastructure, which is not always reliable.

SAT Private Tutoring

One-on-one SAT instruction is also readily available in both on-site and online formats. Private tutoring plans may abbreviate the preparation process by focusing exclusively on individual student issues, and individual tutors can offer a high degree of learning plan customization. Many students will find private tutoring to be the most effective and efficient available method of SAT preparation.

College Board Online SAT Resources

The website of the College Board is a valuable resource for SAT preparation. Students can download practice tests and a daily practice app, sign up for study groups, review sample test questions, and link to an SAT video course offered by Khan Academy, all free of charge. To review these materials, click on the "Practice" link in the SAT section of the College Board's website.

SAT Official Guides and Other Books

The Official SAT Study Guide is published by the College Board and may be purchased from bookstores for $24.99. The Official Guide includes complete coverage of each SAT section, explanations for the answers to practice questions, and four full-length official practice tests. All students taking the SAT are advised to secure a copy of the most recent edition of this book. Commercial publishers and test prep firms have published numerous titles on the SAT, all of which should be regarded as unofficial. The credibility of these materials can range from excellent to poor, depending on the educational qualifications of the texts' authors.

The Importance of Practice Testing

No matter how you study for the SAT, it is extremely important to regularly evaluate your progress with official and high-quality unofficial practice tests. Successful testing is about more than content knowledge; students must also possess vital testing skills such as time management and favorable guessing strategies. Students who undergo regular practice assessments will be prepared for test exercises and for the high-stakes environment of the test itself. Knowing what to expect can boost student self-confidence, which is likely to further increase scores.