How to Make a Six-Month SAT Study Plan

By Dr. Rick Bavaria

High School

It’s November, well into the semester for high schoolers. SATs are a topic of importance and although the spring test dates seem far away, they’re actually right around the corner. If your child is contemplating taking the SAT, it’s wise to have a plan.


A “six-month game plan” will be useful and build confidence for those kids who have kept up their studies, maintained a relatively decent GPA, and have taken school mostly seriously.


However, for those kids who’ve slacked off and think they can undo freshman/sophomore/junior year indolence, this six-month SAT study plan can help but it will be time to really buckle down.


For the next six months, make sure your child . . .


1. . . . takes the PSAT. This “preliminary” test is usually for juniors and helps test-takers to become familiar with the exam without a lot of pressure, as the scores aren’t official. If your child is a senior and hasn’t taken the PSAT, you can find samples online or ask your guidance counselor for help.


2. . . . is enrolled in the right classes. Courses that stretch abilities, boost vocabulary, demand lots of writing, and push computing and analytical skills are all good choices.


3. . . . has plenty of support. That means from you, from teachers and counselors, from friends (They’re taking the SAT, also, right?), and from study buddies with whom your child prepares for important assignments, projects, and classroom tests. As the saying goes, it takes a village.


4. . . . maintains good study habits. Kids know what good study habits are, they just need us adults to make sure they’re practicing them. Avoiding distractions, managing time, being organized, keeping to deadlines, paying attention in class, and getting help when they need it are essential.


5. . . . takes an SAT prep course if necessary. There are lots to choose from, ranging from private tutoring to small group instruction, to large group lectures. If your child decides to do this, allow for at least eight weeks before test time. Above all, remember test-prep classes are not about learning the content of subjects that kids have been studying for years. Rather, they’re about learning strategies for test-taking, like knowing how to eliminate distracters in multiple-choice questions, how to read directions strategically and how to pace throughout the sections. Test-prep classes are the equivalent of athletes’ practices and performers’ rehearsals. Sylvan Learning’s been doing this for years and is really good at it.


6. . . . doesn’t put off preparing until the final minute. Kids are good at this. That’s why they need parents and teachers to keep them on track and nag if necessary. Cramming is never a good idea for learning. You and your child can sit down together to map out a study schedule. Assign one or two areas to focus on each session and spend the most time on the subjects that he or she feels the most uncertain of. As you get closer to the exam, your child will be grateful for this extra time and can beat anxiety on the big day.


7. . . . puts it all in perspective. Yes, the SAT is important, but it’s not the only determinant in college acceptance. Colleges are looking at overall GPA, extracurricular activities, teacher/coach/clergy recommendations and well-written, thoughtful essays. If your child can say, “I did my best,” then the whole family should be happy.


How are you helping your child prepare for the SAT? Tell us in the comments below!