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New SAT Prep Study Tip: Turn Off The Tech

New SAT Prep Study Tip: Turn Off The Tech

In order to really improve your SAT score, you should disconnect from the internet, phone, and any other technology that may distract you from studying. In the world of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, distractions are all around us. Because information is so readily available to us at all times of the day, it’s hard for many of us to find time to concentrate without interruption. This is why I recommend turning off all tech when studying for the SAT – this means no laptops, phones, or other electronic devices (except for a calculator, which should not be the calculator on your phone).

After having gone through high school when I prepared hundreds of hours for the SAT, having gone through premed in college, and having gone through most of medical school, I’ve learned a thing or two about studying. I’ve learned that the most effective studying occurs when I turn off distracting technology. This means turning everything off or at least putting it away – out of sight, out of mind. Whenever I try to get work done that requires a significant amount of concentration whether it’s studying for the SAT, studying for medical school exams, writing SAT books, etc. I follow this practice of turning off the tech.

If I have to work on my laptop, I turn off the WiFi. I put my iPhone in my backpack. I then look at the clock and try to complete 1 solid hour of work without any distractions. This has tremendous benefits. I am always amazed at how much I am able to accomplish when I am not bombarded by e-mails, text messages, Facebook notifications, etc. In Nir Eyal’s book Hooked, he explains how many of the social media apps that we all use have actually become habits that are hard-wired into our brains. I actually don’t even realize how often I’m checking my e-mail or Facebook. And I’m guessing neither do you. And since habits like these are hard to break, it’s better just to avoid them altogether by turning off the tech.

When studying for the SAT, all you really need is paper and a pencil. Hundreds of years ago, this is how people accomplished monumental tasks – whether it was writing books or studying for exams. It’s probably no coincidence that people were much better writers and studiers back then. So if they studied hundreds of years ago without technology, you can certainly prep for the SAT today without all of the distracting technology. While I think technology has done great things for education, I also think it has become the biggest distraction to effective studying.

Technology is really a blessing and a curse. It’s amazing to have so much information at your fingertips at any given moment, but it’s also dangerous to have our minds get distracted by all of that information all the time. It’s our responsibility to use technology wisely and not let it be counterproductive to accomplishing our work. So please heed this advice and turn off the tech when studying for the SAT! If you are addicted to technology like I am, then you may need the physical separation by putting your phone/laptop/tablet in your backpack. You may also need to turn off the WiFi and/or put your phone in airplane mode. While all of these measures may sound extreme, you will be surprised at how much more effective you are when you prep for the SAT after turning off the tech.

You may be offered the option to take the SAT on a computer rather than on paper. If you are given this option, elect to take the SAT on paper. While you won’t necessarily be distracted by the technology of the computer during the SAT exam (they will likely not allow you to access the internet), it does have the disadvantage of not allowing you to think with your pencil as much. Another Expert Strategy is Put Pencil to Paper.

You are much more effective when you are able to annotate passages, underline questions, cross out incorrect answer choices, and circle correct answer choices. While you can do a lot of this with a computer mouse, it simply does not have the same benefit as when you are actively “thinking” through problems with your pencil. Many standardized exams are moving to be computer-only (test makers save millions of dollars by not having to print exams and hire proctors). However, the SAT is one of the few standardized exams that still allows you to complete a paper test. Take advantage of this by electing not to take a computer exam even if one is offered.



Shaan Patel

Shaan Patel is the founder of Prep Expert Test Preparation (formerly 2400 Expert), a #1 bestselling SAT prep author, an MD/MBA student at Yale and USC, and winner of an investment deal with billionaire Mark Cuban on ABC's Shark Tank. He raised his own SAT score from average to perfect and teaches students his methods in an online SAT prep class.