We don’t recommend taking the SAT earlier than the junior year for many reasons. However, SAT prep for sophomores is something we fully endorse to get the process started.
SAT Prep For Sophomores’ Helpful Tips
Enroll In Challenging Courses
Get yourself into classes that challenge your critical thinking skills.
Cramming content into your brain alone won’t help you on the SAT. The test doesn’t just examine what you know. Because it is standardized, the SAT has to test students’ knowledge regardless of how good or bad their school district is.
Where challenging courses help you, is in critical thinking development. It’s not simply having the knowledge, but how to think through a problem.
The thought processes developed and practiced through hard class work pays off on SAT test day. You’ll have helpful skills like:
- Quickly identifying inconsistencies
- Recognizing biases
- Interpreting data easily
- Recognizing patterns in the context
All of these skills sharpen critical thinking and analysis, which you’ll need for the SAT.
Read A Lot Of Material
Make reading your best friend.
Reading a lot of different things during sophomore year pays off on the SAT. Why? Because you’re exposing your mind to a lot of important materials:
- New vocabulary
- Different genres and writing styles
- New perspectives
Along the way, you’ll also pick up helpful tools on the Reading section:
- How to recognize different literary devices
- Identifying the point of view and tone
- Analyzing bias
- Recognizing forms of persuasion
All of those skills are critical to possess on the SAT. Also, don’t limit yourself to either fiction or non-fiction. Read both, from short stories to scientific journal articles.
Anything and everything in between should be on your shelf. You’ll be better prepared then for the different reading passage types come test day.
Work On Your Writing Skills
Becoming a strong writer helps in many ways.
Even though the SAT Essay is now optional, we always recommend preparing for it for a couple of reasons:
A high score sets you apart from other college applicants who skip it, You’re better prepared for college-level writing.
Becoming a stronger writer doesn’t necessarily mean developing creativity in this case. Instead, you should work on tightening up your craft. Skills to work on include:
Rich vocabulary, Comfort with various sentence structures, Analytical writing ability.
If you’re not sure how to get started, ask your teachers for feedback on your written assignments. Work on any specific patterns that you see need improvement.
Don’t be afraid to attend an afterschool writing workshop or club for help. Becoming a great writer doesn’t happen overnight, but you can start the process early.
Sharpen Your Time Management Skills
Finishing the test on time is a skill you can work on during your sophomore year.
One of the hardest things about the SAT and ACT is pacing. Not only do you have to answer questions correctly, but you also have to answer them in time.
The SAT requires you to answer at a quick pace. An easy way to work on this is to refine your time management skills. Work on thinking fast and avoid second-guessing where possible. This doesn’t mean that you answer questions sloppily.
The goal should be to work on answering questions correct but streamline your processes. Be confident in how you get to your answers by knowing how to solve problems without hesitation.
In time, you can take practice tests and set alarms for answering each section, in order to feel how quickly each section passes by.
Assess Your Subject Strengths and Weaknesses
Take the time to ask yourself – ‘which subjects give me the most trouble on a regular basis?’
Do you have issues with Math? Reading comprehension could improve? Is English composition not your strongest suit?
Sit down and list out which subjects give you the most trouble on a regular basis. Chances are good some of them will show up on the SAT in some form.
The good news is you have time to work on addressing them well before taking the test. If Math is a weaker subject, then list out which kinds of problems give you trouble. You don’t need to know Calculus for the SAT, but if Algebra and Geometry are tough, then work on those subjects now.
Grammar and vocabulary are important to work on too for the English-related sections. In general, brush up on your grammar rules and math formulas to start.
Also, take an SAT practice test and work through it. Even if you don’t know the subject matter yet, you’ll see how the test is constructed and which sections will be tough on you.
Again, SAT prep for sophomores is a concept we fully endorse, but don’t think that you have to go all out during that year. Lay the groundwork for a successful junior year and the test will take care of itself.
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