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How To Stay Motivated For The SAT

With everything going on during high school, one question every junior or senior inevitably asks is ‘how to stay motivated for the SAT’? We have our own 7-step process to keep you focused listed below.

If you don’t get your target score the first time out, don’t worry. We have plenty of tips for improving your SAT score the second time around.


A Good SAT Score Opens Doors

A great SAT score is the key to opening many doors.

Remember that taking this test is the first important step to the rest of your academic and professional life. A high score means that college admissions boards will automatically have you on their radar to consider.

The better your score, the better your chances of getting into an elite college program. Also, SAT scores factor into many scholarship applications. Once again, the better your score, the higher the chance of capturing free scholarship money to pay for school.

Ultimately, getting into a great school with minimal graduate debt improves your chances of career success in whatever field you choose. That is the first thing to remember when asking yourself how to stay motivated for the SAT.

It’s The First Step Towards Independence

This is the first test that lets you decide your future.

Throughout elementary, junior, and high school, all of your tests have boiled down to getting through the class. Moreover, you weren’t getting grades for yourself alone.

You’re scoring well in order to not disappoint parents and teachers. However, the SAT is the first test that honestly affects you alone. Your parents and teachers don’t have the same stakes in it as you anymore.

You are now working towards the first step to personal independence. Because that SAT score takes you to college and beyond. That journey is all up to you.

Maintain A Designated Study Routine

Give yourself the time and space to get you into the right study mindset.

When getting ready for the SAT, make sure to do the following tasks:

  • Schedule specific study times in your week that you can maintain
  • Find a quiet space to work within

As far as study time goes, make sure it’s a length of time that you can get work done and maintain focus. If that’s only 30 or 45 minutes a day, that’s fine. But stick with it consistently over time.

For your workspace, find something that is comfortable and limits distractions. We suggest doing it at a desk or table, and never in bed. Your bed makes it too easy to get distracted and lazy.

However, once you lock in your study routine, you can focus better and keep your motivation up.


Make It Social

Are your friends taking the SAT too?

If so, then turn a solitary effort into a fun, group study. Many students find it tough to stay motivated for the SAT, because of the sacrifice in social time.

However, if your friends are taking it too, then try organizing a group study session once a week. This will be helpful for many reasons:

  • Review material you’ve been working on individually
  • Compare notes and help each other out on tough subjects
  • Keep each other accountable
  • Keep your energy and enthusiasm up

In the end, you know that there are people who have your back when it comes to this test.

Regularly Check Your Progress

Nothing keeps motivation up like tracking progress.

While you’re doing SAT test prep, you should plan to take practice tests along the way. Practice tests are helpful for a few important reasons:

  • You adjust to the time constraints and test format
  • Identify which sections present more difficulty
  • Track your progress per section

Forcing yourself to take practice tests under real conditions, meaning timing yourself and moving on to different sections, helps develop your pace and exposes what you need to work on.

However, as your practice scores increase, the immediate validation can’t be underestimated. It’s not just about what you know, but how to conquer the test format with confidence.

Think About SAT Mastery

Don’t think of this test as one to pass, but rather master.

The mindset is important with SAT prep. It’s easy to do just enough to pass with a decent score. Over time though, your motivation will weaken because you’ll get bored.

Instead, think of the SAT as a challenge to master. Don’t look at the problem sections as traps and weaknesses, but rather obstacles you can overcome.

Understand that you’re learning new skills to tackle the different sections, and flex those muscles when answering. You will come across difficult sections, but they give you the drive to work harder at sharpening your skills.

By the time you take the test, with a mastery mindset, the test date will feel like a formality.

Apply SAT Skills To Regular Classwork

Don’t keep your normal studies and SAT prep separate; find the overlaps.

The subjects you’re tested on include classes you’re still taking in high school. Instead of thinking of them as two different things, try applying your SAT prep mindset and skills to regular homework.

Work on actively reading texts when dealing with English assignments, because it will directly translate to Writing and Reading section practice. If you’re faced with unknown vocabulary when doing homework, look it up and practice using it.

For Math assignments, work on doing as much as you can without a calculator as possible if they’re relatively straightforward calculations. This is invaluable in the new SAT’s No-Calculator Math subsection.

All in all, let both activities reinforce each other, instead of competing for time and focus. How to stay motivated for the SAT? Simple, put in the work with these strategies and you’ll be good.


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Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Written by Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Prep Expert Founder & CEO

Shark Tank Winner, Perfect SAT Scorer, Dermatologist, & #1 Bestselling Author
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