With college approaching, there are so many things about which a high school junior must think, such as where to attend college and how it will be possible to afford it all. On top of these thoughts, students must also think about the steps they must take to get into college, and one thought that bubbles to the top includes the SAT exam.
Taking the SAT exam may seem like a huge undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be when you are properly prepared for the test. With so many SAT prep options available, students of any learning ability will have the opportunity to do their best.
SAT Suite of Assessments
The SAT suite of assessments includes all of the examinations that are administered through the College Board to help students, parents and college admissions directors understand where a student is on his educational journey. The SAT suite includes late middle school examinations such as the PSAT 8/9 as well as the PSAT that students take during their sophomore year.
The PSAT examinations help guide middle and high schools as to the curriculums in which their students are doing well and where additional assistance can be provided across the board. When students take the PSAT in their sophomore year of high school, they will have a better idea of their progress and where they may score when taking the SAT.
The SAT, of course, is an examination that is based on theory and logic and includes topics with which students in high school may or may not be familiar depending on the curriculum taught in their schools. All of these different examinations make up the SAT suite of assessments.
What Is the Best SAT Study Guide?
Deciding which is the best SAT study guide depends on the students and how they best learn. The good news is that there are several options available for SAT prep. These options include online, self-paced, in-person and tutoring options. So, the best SAT study guide can only be decided by you.
Online SAT Prep
If you’re looking to study anytime and at any place, then online SAT prep would be great for you. With online SAT prep, you decide on what you want to work, when you want to work and for how long. All you need is a computer with an internet connection or an electronic device with Wi-Fi access. Once you are online, you can access SAT exam sample questions, practice tests and strategies that will help you score your best and allow you to work at your own pace.
The SAT online resources will even allow you to see how you would score through the SAT practice test scoring system. Being able to fully see and understand how the test works is not only a gift but the best way to quell anxiety and help you to prepare. After taking the SAT practice test, your answers can then be scored through the SAT practice test scoring system. This feature will help you better understand how you scored and can help identify the areas in which you might need more practice.
One of the best parts of online SAT prep is that it is completely free. To take the SAT exam, it will cost you $47.50 or $64.50 if you are taking the SAT exam with the optional essay. Fee waivers for registration are available, but not everyone will qualify. By ensuring that SAT prep is free through the official SAT website that is managed by the College Board or through the online learning system Khan Academy, every student has the best opportunity to prepare for one of the most influential tests in life.
In-Person SAT Prep
Some students find it difficult to study or prepare for the SAT test on their own, and that’s OK. If you would prefer in-person help, like a class, companies such as Kaplan and the Princeton Review can help. During in-person SAT prep classes, instructors who are very well versed in the SAT can help alleviate fears and show you the best way to tackle the exam. They will share SAT study guides and strategies.
Students will also have the opportunity to work and learn alongside other students who need the extra support. There is an allotted number of hours that students can attend the in-person classes, and then for additional support at home, they can log in to a website. The in-person SAT prep will also include practice exams and online quizzes as well as online prerecorded classes that can be accessed anytime a student is ready to study. Students will also receive SAT prep books in which they can scribble and highlight information.
In order to take advantage of this type of dedicated prep, it will come at a very expensive cost. In-person prep pricing starts at $899, and for additional support that includes one-on-one coaching, the price can escalate to more than $1,300. While costly, some students found this type of SAT prep to be very helpful in achieving the scores they desired. There are free in-person courses that are offered from time to time, but there aren’t many. If you are interested in attending one, it’s best to check in with your high school guidance office or keep checking online at the Kaplan and Princeton Review websites.
SAT Prep Tutors
If a student really craves one-on-one instruction, then a tutor would be the best option. A tutor can focus on a student’s concerns and instruct at a pace that’s best for the student. However, having a private tutor does come at a very large cost. Should students desire to hire a tutor who is an excellent teacher but has no formal instruction on how to best strategize for the SAT, they could find that they’re not getting the direction for which they had hoped, even at a minimal cost.
If an instructor who has been trained to help a student prepare for the SAT is engaged, expect to incur a hefty cost. To obtain a tutor to specifically instruct on the SAT and strategies through a company like the Princeton Review, students can expect to pay at least $150 an hour. The specialized tutor will work one-on-one with a student’s concerns and use practice test examples to help him prepare.
Because of the cost, the Princeton Review stands by their tutors and their ability to provide helpful strategies to improve a student’s score, so much so that if a student doesn’t score higher than his previous SAT score, then the Princeton Review will refund his money. So, while it can be one of the most expensive SAT prep methods, it’s considered one of the best ways to accomplish a higher score with a guarantee.
When Should You Start SAT Prep?
When you should begin SAT prep is entirely up to you, but it’s not suggested to start the day before the test. It’s suggested that the night before the test, you should get as much rest as possible so you're fresh for the exam.
Decide when you want to take the SAT and then begin your study routine. If you are interested in taking a SAT prep course, then you will have to pay attention to their schedule and base your schedule accordingly. To get the best rate on SAT prep courses and also to make sure you’ll have a seat in the class, you will want to reserve your spot at least three weeks ahead of when the SAT prep course is scheduled.
While overstudying will not help improve your score, underpreparing will not help either. To ensure you have enough time to study for the SAT, plan to begin studying at least a month ahead of when you are scheduled to take the exam. This will allow you to study at your own pace and not overload yourself.
Scheduled SAT Dates for 2019
In order to give all students the chance to take the SAT when it works best for their schedule, the SAT is scheduled for several times during the school year, and the dates for the next school year are made available as well for future planning.
The SAT is administered nearly every month, but if you also plan on taking an SAT Subject Test when taking the SAT, you will need to plan in advance because not every subject is available during each SAT date. If you want to take the SAT in 2019, you may register for these remaining dates:
- August 24, 2019
- October 5, 2019
- November 2, 2019
- December 7, 2019
Dates are always subject to change, so make sure to review the dates as the one in which you’re interested gets closer to make sure it is still taking place on that date.
Important Things to Remember
On the day of the test, take a few deep breaths and relax. The SAT is filled with information you should have encountered on your educational journey. If you have used the SAT prep methods that are best for your learning style, you’ll be very well prepared and know exactly what to expect when you’re presented with the examination.
Don’t forget to get to your testing site by 7:45 a.m. on the day of the test because once 8:00 a.m. comes, the doors will be locked, and you will not be able to enter. You will need to reschedule for another day. Make sure to bring your picture ID, entrance ticket, freshly sharpened pencils, regulation calculator and snacks and drinks for your break. There’s no need for a phone or any other electronic device.
Expect to spend until around 1:00 p.m. taking the exam. Add an additional hour if you’re also taking an SAT Subject Test.
Importance of SAT Scoring
When it’s time to take the test, make sure to answer the questions you know and guess on the ones you don’t know. There is no penalty for guessing, so your guess could prove to be a right answer. After your scores are scanned and scored, they are sent to the colleges you chose during registration and also to your account. This typically happens within a month of completing the exam.
It may seem as though taking the SAT exam is a huge undertaking, and it is. However, it’s just one more step leading you to the future you desire. When preparing for and taking the SAT, remember that the SAT is simply one measurement of what you know. It doesn’t measure everything, and college admissions directors understand that.
Admissions directors use the SAT to help them when selecting the best students for their programs, but it’s not the only criteria that is used. A student’s GPA and personality help guide the admissions process as well. As long as you do your best, the college that is right for you could be in your future.
As a communications professional in the greater Philadelphia region, Jerisha enjoys writing informative advancement communications pieces for philanthropic organizations. When not writing, Jerisha is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences at Wilmington University where she guides full-time students and full-time working adults through the writing process. Jerisha holds an M.F.A. in creative writing and enjoys writing education articles and essays.