When to start your SAT Prep – Start Early, Stay Ahead!


SAT is among the most defining tests a high school student can take. An SAT score helps shape the future of one’s education when it is weighed as a part of his/her college application. So, the benefits of starting your SAT preparation early are multi-fold. Drafting a study plan depends on your schedule and study style. Given the college application timelines, you should try taking up their first SAT attempt in the months of September/October of your 11th-grade academic year. This way, if you want to retake the test for a better score, you can do so in the months of April/May in the subsequent year. This makes the 12th-grade academic year free for academic focus and college selection and application.

The intensity of your study will also vary by how selective the schools you want to get into are. Thus, it all depends on your future goals (college) and how much work you are willing to put in.

Advantages of starting early

Starting SAT prep early enables one to process enormous quantities of material and strategy for score improvement. What is needed is no more than 45 minutes/day prepping for the test, and engaging in this consistent practice for months. Also, starting early eliminates stress. Putting in the daily effort, eventually, leads to better results with plenty of time to spare for the application processes. Prepping for the SAT in one’s 10th-grade will leave a good amount of time for taking up the test in September/October of their 11th-grade academic year.

Taking a backup/second test is always useful. If one gets the score he/she is looking for on the first attempt, one can focus on moving on to the next step. The student can just cancel the backup/second test and be on their way. However, if one does not get the attempted score on the first try, he/she can always take the test again.

Most importantly, by learning the SAT material for math, grammar, and writing, one will also be able to apply it back to his or her schoolwork.

Thus, students who start earliest have an easier, more successful, and less stressful SAT test prep journey.

Studying various sections of the SAT test

One topic good to study early is reading comprehension, as the ability to read, understand and analyze a written passage comes with practice. It is also a good idea to keep reading: whether it is books, magazines or newspapers that you prefer. Establishing an everyday reading habit may expand your vocabulary for SAT prep and enhance your understanding of the English language. This might also increase your speed of reading content. Besides improving your reading comprehension skills, such practice can also boost your performance in the written portions of the SAT.

Another topic to prepare for early on in the SAT test prep is basic math. In the first few weeks of your exam prep, focus on the topics of basic arithmetic, algebra, and fractions that can provide the foundation for more complex mathematical concepts such as geometry.

Taking a lot of practice tests can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. This, in turn, helps to determine which areas you should put most of your study efforts on. Also, even if you feel comfortable with a specific topic, you should still practice it, so that it stays fresh in mind.

Some top scorers who shone

A 19-year-old boy from the city of Kolkata, Arunavha Chanda received admission offers from seven top US varsities, most of them Ivy League, after achieving a perfect score in SAT in 2014. Arunavha had applied to eight US universities and got through seven – Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, Cornell, Georgia Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College.

With a score of 1,590 out of 1,600, Shubh Agrawal from Lucknow was probably India’s highest scorer in the January 2017 SAT, conducted by the College Board, USA. The boy’s teacher quoted him as saying: “After reading Hawking’s bestselling book ‘A Brief History of Time’, I have aligned my goals with that of Hawkins. To repeat the words of Hawking – My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is, and why it exists at all. I, therefore, the dream of being an astrophysicist.”

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