1. Create a planTake some time at the beginning of the school year to think about goals and create a plan for reaching them. Do you need to score high enough to get into a particular school, or are you aiming to raise your score from a previous test? Or perhaps you only need to improve a score in a specific section. After determining your larger goal, think about ways to break that goal into smaller goals and objectives that can be achieved weekly or monthly. For example, if you need to raise your verbal SAT score, you might plan to learn 20 new vocabulary words each week and focus on improving your skills with each type of question every three weeks.
Set aside a regular weekly study timeWhile making your plan, be sure to identify a particular time each week you can commit to. Assuming you’ll be able to add test prep on top of your regular studies without scheduling it might mean test prep falls by the wayside. It’s important to be realistic, however, and to consider what works for you; a student with multiple extracurriculars and AP courses might want to set aside Saturday mornings, while a student with a weekend job might do better scheduling an hour three times a week.
Make it funWith a busy schedule, test prep can feel like the last thing you want to spend extra time on. If you can, find a way to look forward to your test prep time by creating a study group with your friends, asking family to help quiz you, or even creating game-show style study methods. If you do better studying alone, create a reward for yourself by going to a favorite coffee shop or outdoor space to study or by making sure you have your favorite snacks. Creating positive associations with test preparation will help you stay on track and meet your goals.
Keep your goals front & centerMotivation can be hard to maintain. While discipline and commitment are the best remedies, it can also be helpful to remind yourself of your motivations periodically. Take a little time to create a visual reminder of your goal that you can post in your study area or as a desktop background. The logo of your dream school, a specific number score, or a photo of a person you hope to make proud can all help you get started when you might not feel like it. Even in a busy semester with multiple commitments, standardized test prep can be a priority. Incorporating a regular commitment into a weekly schedule, breaking larger goals into smaller, achievable objectives, and finding ways to stay motivated can all help keep you focused and on track for the SAT or ACT. Hilary Gan is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.
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