Smashing SAT Prep

“Take a “Study” Break. Have a Kit Kat. Or not – not everyone is a lover of Nestle Chocolate, but it’s ok to take a break and not cram for the SAT.”

We’ve all heard it. The SAT is a big deal: The higher your score, the better your chances are of securing a place at competitive colleges and qualifying for scholarship opportunities.

If your teen’s scores to date have felt rather uninspiring let’s take a moment to consider – what we can do to support and improve the shots for the better.

What could change if the SAT needs to be taken again? In this article we’ll address strategies, which help smash SAT Prep out of the ballpark.

Read, Once, Twice and Write, Write, Write!

Reading widely can enhance understanding of different words, new writing styles, and innovative ideas. Encourage your teen to engage, read anything they enjoy. To read things considered boring, be it: Newspapers or business articles. The point is to expand critical thinking skills.

Grab movie reviews, and encourage discussions, which have your kid thinking about what they’ve read. Writing is akin to fitness, if you don’t use your flexibility, you lose it. When one writes regularly, skills become stronger and eventually it gets easier to do, whether running a mile or a marathon.

Vocabulary is Powerful

The SAT is big on words. So the key is to have a notable vocabulary heading into the exam. We recommend finding material that is challenging – and any unknown or doubtful words, look them up and try memorizing them.

Research previous SAT tests, and you’ll notice that some words appear more often than others, because the SAT enjoys reusing words. 

It’s actually an excellent tool for breaking down those reading passages with familiarity, which can also be used to strengthen essays writing skills throughout college.

Use Study Materials Wisely

There are countless SAT prep books available online alone to ensure a head spin. As the old cliché goes: “Practice Makes Perfect”… becoming familiar with both content and layout will help increase confidence. Also, encourage your teen ask questions when they’re feeling unsure.


Preparation combats anxiety. Sit a practice test. Or several. There will always be distractions around. The air-conditioning is freezing, someone forgot to silence their cell phone… focussing regardless is key.

Practice also provides structure, and identifies areas that require attention. At Tutor Partners, we want your teen to put their best foot forward from the beginning.

Memorize Formulas

Valuable time can be lost flipping back and forth searching for information; memorizing formulas can avoid that. Acronyms (abbreviations formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word, e.g. ASAP) help retain information more confidently.

Don’t Cram, Jam and Stress Less

In the long run, studying the night before isn’t beneficial – if ever. Information learned “sinks in” better over time and with repetition. A good night’s rest, eating well, relaxation, will help kids stay mentally fit and “stress less” on SAT day.

We all need to stay calm.

Stumped on Math? Write!

Math has a way of tripping us up, particularly under pressure; minds run in one hundred different directions. The nerves and stress of errors set in and everything your kid thought they knew goes out the window. 

Instead of zoning out or panicking, we recommend writing. At Tutor Partners, we encourage our students to clearly underline key parts of the question, label diagrams or draw a clarifying image. We want that pencil to keep moving because such actions encourage the brain and body to remain doing so as well.

Visually breaking apart the question helps patterns emerge where they may not have been evident before. 

BE Positive

Much of the SAT is multiple choice – which can be used to an advantage. Math questions are a process of elimination of what works in the equation and what doesn’t. 

In the reading component: Find the common theme– Is the test looking for grammatical errors? Punctuation? The answers will always be presented within the material, so we need to encourage kids to think analytically and search in the right places.

“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.”

~ Rosalynn Carter

Finally, remember there’s value in learning from past mistakes and if the SAT requires a retake, failure is not the end of the world. We believe students can always achieve higher scores than their last – keep on track and smash the SAT. 

Just be, live freely.

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