7 Things SAT Prep Courses Won't Teach You

Pencils down! Time to approach test prep differently...

SAT and ACT prep are big businesses because of the importance the education system places on the final scores. While there are affordable and free resources, you shouldn't rely on just apps, books, and classes to help you. Let's take a more holistic approach to test prep with tips you won't find in the text books.  

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You need a new sleep routine

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Getting a good's night sleep is essential before a test, but to really prime your brain for test-taking, you may need a whole new routine. Sleep hygiene is about developing healthy habits that you practice even on the weekends. If you're pulling all-nighters to cram in extra SAT prep, don't expect that you can catch up on the sleep debt later. You're brain doesn't follow that logic. 

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You need to sweat

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"Researchers have found that different types of exercise may impact the brain in different ways. Most of the evidence suggests that cardio exercise offers the greatest memory-boosting and learning-enhancement benefits, but there is also evidence that strength training can benefit the brain as well."

- Kendra Cherry, About.com Psychology Expert

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Change your diet

Brain food exists! Green tea, eggs, fish, even chocolate all provide different brain-boosting benefits that could give you an edge while test prepping.  In general, eating clean and avoiding processed food is not just better for your waistline, but also your test scores.

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Keep your stress in check

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Anxiety can get in the way of your test performance, so it's important to overcome any pre-test nervousness. Setting realistic expectations, visualizing success, and simple habits like writing lists can help combat test stress. 

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Stick to simple SAT strategies

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Some strategies work for all standardized tests, like tracking your time and effectively reading. However, the SATs do have unique rules that you should use to your advantage. Because you can rack up negative points, there are different approaches to guessing depending on the section and the question number. 

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Customize your prepping

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SAT tutors or courses are not a one-size-fits all situation. Psychology theories suggest that learning styles can be categorized in three different buckets: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic.  Before forking over money for expensive prep materials, do a self-assessment. What techniques help YOU absorb study materials best? 

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Don't take the SATs at all

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There are 800 colleges that DON'T require you to submit SAT or ACT scores. If this sounds appealing, learn more about these colleges here.