As students tackle the SAT, the baseline study companion is often a chunky, oversized book chock-full of lessons they won’t read, practice tests they won’t take, resulting in hours they won’t spend studying for the exam.
Though these books contain useful information about the different skills needed to ace the test, it is not organized in a way that benefits the individual test taker. Topics are often organized by their relevance to each other, and not necessarily what topics need to be studied most. As a result, many find themselves practicing skills they’ve already mastered in order to not have to delve into unfamiliar and potentially discouraging subject matter.
There’s a solution to this disorganized mess. CollegeBoard has teamed up with Khan Academy to provide limitless online SAT practice questions, personalized to the strengths and weaknesses of each individual student. It’s completely free and can be accessed on a phone for on-the-go practice.
One may wonder, “How would they know what skills I need to work on? Do I need to take a diagnostic test?”
It depends. Most upper level high school students have already taken multiple PSAT’s or maybe even an SAT. Khan Academy links College Board accounts and previous scores with their service to create a personalized study plan for each student. If you do not have a CollegeBoard account or have not taken a PSAT, you will have to take a short diagnostic test in order to feel the pulse of your current skill levels.
Of course, this entails signing up for a Khan Academy account and linking it to an (presumably) existing CollegeBoard account, but there are steps to do that on either organization’s official site. This article is merely a breakdown of the benefits of making the effort to do so.
On a computer, the first thing you’ll see is the Practice Dashboard, which provides an overview of previous scores, current skill levels in Math or Reading & Writing, as well as a self-created practice schedule.
The practice schedule is one of the most important (and admittedly most difficult-to-maintain) aspects of this tool.
Students create their own practice schedule so that it fits into their undoubtedly busy schedules. Autonomy is yours when it comes to choosing which days to practice, for how long, and whether or not you’ll be sent notifications when it’s time to practice.
Every time you log on, Khan Academy will provide recommendations for skill practice in either Math or Reading & Writing based off of your previously missed questions. Or, if you so choose, you can also practice other skills based off the demonstrated mastery levels next to each one.
What I found extremely helpful was that answer explanations automatically popped up for each question, whether I got it right or wrong; it helped me internalize the rules I needed to abide by.
Besides the basic skill conditioning offered on Khan Academy, there is still a wealth of other resources at your disposal should you decide to link your accounts. General SAT Tips and Strategies are available; but more importantly, Essay Practice Prompts with an interactive grading system and real-time Practice Tests are also at your fingertips.
All in all, this asset is so easily overlooked by many SAT test takers; I almost did too. However, using this service challenges students to interact with concepts they may be weaker in, and it eliminates the need to figure out your weaknesses yourself.
And if you’re like me, I was bothered by the fact that my skill levels were inconsistent, so I forced myself to practice my terrible subjects until I improved.
For more help, Glendora High School’s Club Rush brings with it a brand new SAT / ACT Prep Club. Headed by senior Kerry Welsh, the club will have dedicated tutors for subject matter on either test and will help future test takers feel more prepared and motivated.
The most important part of any preparation is to relax and not allow it to overwhelm you. There is a wealth of information, tips, and strategies available to all students, but they will be best utilized by one who is focused, consistent, and unfazed by the challenges ahead.