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How Early Should You Prepare for the SAT?

Language flashcards for two-year-olds may seem crazy, but test-taking is an essential skill for a student´s entire academic life. Learning how to take standardized tests will help students at every grade level, but the SAT is the pinnacle and highest stakes test for most students. So how early should students prepare for the SAT?

Last fall, the College Board started to offer a new test designed to prepare eighth graders for the format and test-style of the PSAT and SAT. Called ReadiStep, the test is meant to help middle school students and schools evaluate and plan – ultimately for the SAT and for the college admissions process.

Should students start preparing in middle school – or earlier – for the SAT?

1. Test-taking skills translate into overall study skills

Starting at a young age in test-preparation has the potential to help students with their academic skills in and out of the classroom. Building a strong foundation and acclimating to test-taking pressure can help students in future tests. Check with teachers to learn about the standardized tests your student will take in school. At a young age, fostering creativity will contribute to a strong intellectual base later. If the school has standardized tests already, those tests may be sufficient. 

2. Use the SSAT and PSAT

For middle and beginning high school school students, there are already standardized tests many students take before the SAT. Students applying to private high schools often take the SSAT, and most high schoolers take the PSAT. Use these two tests to practice for the SAT. The SSAT and PSAT are particularly good tests for this kind of practice because they are high-stakes but less pressure than the SAT. The ReadiStep test may be another option for students in middle school who do not take the SSAT.

3. Consider taking a summer program

During the school year – especially at the middle and beginning high school level – students need to focus on their classroom academic work. Nothing can replace a strong GPA and competitive class schedule. Testing is absolutely essential, but useless if strong grades are lacking. Summer programs like those here at Top Test Prep provide students time to focus on test preparation without losing sight of their academic year goals. Students in summer programs will also be surrounded by like-minded, motivated peers.

4. Prevent burnout

Cited by premier universities, including the Ivy League, burnout happens to many incoming students who have had extremely intense high school years. College admission is tougher than ever, but when considering when a student should start preparing for the SAT, make sure you're not building in a stress time-bomb. Pressure is important, but so is sustainability.
 

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This post is titled, "How Early Should You Prepare for the SAT?" It was written by Marta Casey, a writer on Top Test Prep's team.

For more information about Top Test Prep's programs, call (800) 501 – Prep.

 

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