SAT Study Skills Checklist

Over the years, I have noticed that students with good SAT study skills score better on the exam than those who do not have them. Makes sense, right? But some students need help developing these good work habits.

The study skills checklist below help my students create good habits that will support them throughout the test prep process. Don't forget to all ready by recommendations for Best SAT Prep books and Best Online SAT programs. Keep up the good work!

SAT Study Skill #1: Good Study Materials

  • How will I prepare? Take an online SAT program, hire a private tutor, or purchase high-quality, test preparation materials for the SAT? Or maybe a combination of the above?
  • Do I have a timer available. Note: The timer is essential. Much better than a clock or watch to guarantee exact timing for sections.
  • Do I have a large enough workspace so I can spread out?
  • Is the space comfortable? Do I have good chair?
  • Do I have pencils, erasers, highlighters, sticky notes and index cards in arm's reach?
  • Do I have a special place or backpack to store all of my SAT study materials so I cal easily find them?

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SAT Study Skill #2: Time Management

  • Do I have a specific day(s) and time that I set aside each week to study for the SAT?
  • Do I have a signal for family and friends to let them know I am studying?
  • Do I know how to use incentives to encourage my studying? For example, "After I finish this practice section, I will reward myself by watching my favorite TV show I recorded on my DVR."
  • Do I schedule study breaks? For every 45-minutes of study, I recommend a 5-minute break.

Why Timers are So Important

So many students (and parents) do not purchase an inexpensive timer, even though it is a necessary test prep tool. In my office, I always have at least three timers. So many students use cell phones as timers, but the cell phone can be a big distraction from the actual test. If a student uses a cell phone as a timer, then a student can easily be distracted by phone calls, text messages, get the picture! And keep the timer in the backpack, so it is easily accessible.

SAT Study Skill #3: Is My Study Space a Good One?

  • Is the space I study quiet? If not, what can I do to minimize any noise (e.g. ear plugs, change study spots, ask family to respect study time, etc.)
  • Do I turn off my phone and computer when studying to reduce distractions? This is essential when doing timed, practice tests.
  • Is the lighting good?
  • Do I have easy access to a bathroom? Can I easily grab a snack and water? If not, you may find yourself not wanting to study very long in that space?

Study Tip #4: Know Your Goal

  • Set a realistic yet challenging score goal. This score should match to the high school GPA and type of colleges you plan to apply to
  • Take regular practice SAT tests so you know how you are currently scoring on the test
  • Target the areas of the test that are the most difficult
  • Get help, if needed. You can hire a tutor, get more SAT study materials, or take online SAT video tutorials
  • Don't give up! Most students need to take the test 2-3 times to achieve their best scores. And remember that some schools will combine best scores from different sections from different test dates, so plan to take it more than once

Tips for Parents

Once a student selects a study time parents MUST take it seriously. Try not to schedule appointments during those times. If you know the student uses Saturday mornings to study for the SAT, then try to reduce noise from cleaning, socializing or younger siblings. If the time is inconvenient, then help the student choose another study time.

Same goes for the study space. Try not to move books and other items. If a student sits down to study and he or she cannot find the SAT materials, a study opportunity could be lost.

News & Updates

Several times each week, I post articles and test taking tips about the SAT and ACT tests as well as college admissions. These blog entries are a great way to keep current with what is happening in high school test prep and college admissions. So please bookmark this page (or subscribe to my RSS feed) and let your friends and family know about!