Student Advice: How to best prepare for the SATs

by Brianna Campagna

Although many colleges have become test optional when applying, students still feel the need to do well on the SATs.

“For college, I have more options with the schools that I can go to,” senior Rachel Leo said. “Although most schools are test optional, it really matters to show your academic level.”

The SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a measurement of a student’s preparedness for college through a timed test. It tests a student’s abilities in sections such as reading, language and math.

“If you’re trying to get into competitive programs, or you want an academic scholarship, it’s used as a benchmark,” Guidance Counselor Mrs. Laura Klipa said.

In 2021, Katlyn Swierczynski graduated from GS. She currently attends North Carolina State University, and the SATs helped her get to where she is now.

“From my SAT score in consideration with other aspects of my application, I was able to receive a half ride for tuition at NC State, my dream school,” Swierczynski said. “If not for this scholarship I would not be in North Carolina today.”

 Connor Herrington graduated from GS in 2022. He is currently attending Georgia Tech to study Biomolecular Engineering. His drive for SAT success was to prove himself to competitive schools.

“I had some reach schools that I really wanted to get into, so that drove me to improve my score,” Herrington said. “I wanted the best chance possible to get in.”

Herrington retook the SATs twice. He said that the free materials that Khan Academy provides are a “lifesaver.”

The College Board and Khan Academy are directly linked to each other, providing authentic studying materials that are free for anyone to use.

“The practice tests and questions that are on Khan Academy closely resemble what you will see on the actual SAT in terms of format, difficulty and different types of questions,” Leo said.

Many students use Khan Academy as their main source of studying materials.

“The first two times I took the test I only used the College Board exercises and practice exams, which really helped a lot with learning the style of questions and time layout of the test,” Swierczynski said. “I was able to simulate as many tests as I wanted to before my exam day, and if I did not understand a problem, a step-by-step explanation was included. They also provided quick daily exercises to practice SAT style questions every day leading up to the test.”

After taking the PSATs in eleventh grade, students receive an access code where College Board personalizes practice for each individual based off of their strengths and weaknesses.

“Your access code will give you free SAT prep, so it will help personalize the areas that you need to focus on and take some time to kind of get used to the format,” Klipa said.

Other than Khan Academy, students hire tutors to improve on certain subjects.

“If you can find an affordable tutor for a certain subject, they can be very beneficial to improving your score in that section,” Herrington said.

When registering for the SATs, the College Board offers students the opportunity to purchase The Official SAT Study Guide, as well as the SAT question-and-answer service.

“I purchased something for $16 where College Board returns your test results with a breakdown of each question to show what your strengths and weaknesses are,” Leo said. “That was helpful because it links directly back to Khan Academy.”

Rachel Leo studies for the SATs using The Official SAT Guide. Photo by Brianna Campagna.

The SATs cost $55 per test. Upcoming SAT dates for 2022 include October 1, November 5 and December 3. Registration is live at the SAT Suite of Assessments on the College Board website.

“The more you practice, the more your strengths will show,” Klipa said.

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