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Strategies before Tactics: Preparing for the SAT

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When it comes to preparing for a standardized test, it is impossible to underestimate the impact of learning for the long-term versus preparing haphazardly, with only the short term in mind. While there is a seemingly endless slew of gimmicks, tricks, and misguided advice out there to confuse the unwary test-taker, the savvy test-taker knows there is only one sure-fire method for achieving a top score: a combined knowledge of the test’s content and familiarity with time-honoured and effective strategies for each question type.

Here are a few concepts we focus on at LA Tutors 123 to help students prepare for the SAT.

Knowledge of the test’s content. First, you must know the basic breakdown of the exam: what kinds of questions are featured on the test, what topics are most commonly tested within those question types, how many questions each section has, and finally how long you have to complete each section.

Mastery of the test. Establish a mastery of the test through study and practice to ensure that you’re consistently reaching the score you want in advance of test day. Part of making sure you get the score you want is disregarding faddish advice (like “B is the most common answer, so when in doubt, choose B,” among other such nonsense) so you can concentrate on the most important aspect of the test: what exactly is tested. What exactly gets tested is fundamentally repetitive and limited in scope. The significance of this for you is that there is light at the end of the tunnel; there are a finite number of topics tested and with the right amount of preparation, it is intrinsically possible to know all of them backwards and forward in advance.

Effective test preparation is strategy. The most effective test preparation is a strategy, which should be distinguished from the misguided advice we mentioned earlier. The best strategy amounts to an effective method that can be replicated over and over in order to arrive at favourable results. For example, a solid strategy for many algebra questions involves substituting real values for the variables and solving the problem in a concrete fashion. Your knowledge of alternate ways of solving any given problem ratchet up the likelihood that you will have at your disposal the tools you need to answer questions correctly and efficiently. Taking the test whilst employing the most efficacious approach – be that a strategy or a more traditional method – again and again until pacing is not an issue is the final phase of guaranteeing that you’ve effectively prepared for the long term.

About the Author
CollegeBasics.com guest contributor Arash Fayz is the Tutoring Director for LA Tutors 123. He has been a professional in the educational field teaching and tutoring Math and SAT preparation for over 10 years. For any questions, Arash can be reached at arash@latutors123.com.