Advice from Steve Jobs To Help You Prep for the SAT

Steve Jobs
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

What do Steve Jobs and prepping for the SAT have in common? More than you might think.

Steve Jobs, co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Apple Inc. and CEO and major shareholder of Pixar Animation Studios knew a thing or two about setting a goal, working for it, and achieving it. Born to a young woman and man who were in love but forbidden to marry because of a difference in religions, Jobs was given up for adoption and taken in by Paul and Clara Jobs in San Francisco.  

In school, he was often misbehaving out of boredom, until one teacher recognized his intelligence and inspired him (and bribed him!) to learn. He became interested in electronics early on in his life, and at 13 years old, worked assembling frequency counters at Hewlett-Packard during the summer. 

Although he took a circuitous route to success, studying at Reed College for two years before dropping out, followed by traveling throughout India to study Zen Buddhism, Jobs, through his intense creativity and determined spirit, helped to create the massive success Apple Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios are today.

We can all learn a little bit about success from Jobs, especially those of you who are getting ready to prep for the SAT. Here are a few quotes from this American businessman, inventor, and industrial designer to help you meet the challenge of the SAT.

Steve Jobs' Advice 

His Quote: "Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people." 

  • Your Lesson: Two heads (or even three or four) are better than one. When you sit down to study for anything, getting the input from a friend, family member or teacher is incredibly important. It can help you see things you may have missed when prepping alone, or help you understand parts of the content you may not quite have grasped before. Plus, teaming up with another person can help you stay on task. It's easy to blow off a study session when you are only accountable to yourself, but if you know that someone else is waiting for you at the library or has shown up at your house to help you get ready, you will be much more likely to follow through with your studies.
  • Apply It to the SAT: When you get ready to prep for the SAT, line up some people who will be in your corner to help you make it through it all. It can be difficult to focus through Mathematics, Evidence-Based Reading, and Evidence-Based Writing and Language, especially if you have a long book to go through on your own, but a team can help you be successful. Hire a tutor, sign up for an SAT prep class, or just enlist your best friend to review with you or take practice tests with you so you're not alone.

His Quote: "My favorite things in life don't cost any money. It's really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time." 

  • Your Lesson: Time is a precious resource, and it's something I'm sure you don't believe you have very much of as a high school student. You have your regular classwork and homework,  You have to have time for your job. Your friends. Your family. Your sports. Your clubs and groups. It's tough to find the time to prep for the SAT when you are already stretched thin by the end of the day.
  • Apply It to the SAT: As Jobs said, your time is precious, which is why you must get rid of any time drains in order to prep for the SAT. So, what are time drains? Time drains are those things you are currently doing throughout the day - hanging out on social media, watching TV, etc. - that aren't really adding value to your life. Sure, relaxation time is hugely important, but if you are skipping SAT prep in order to watch YouTube videos of funny cats or take a quiz about which type of potato chip you are, then you are not aware of how precious time really is. You only have so much in a day; make sure you're using it wisely so your SAT score is as high as it can possibly be! 

His Quote: "Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future." 

  • Your Lesson: What you do today matters for your future. How you spend your days, whether that's floating along doing just enough to get by, or pushing yourself to excel, impacts your future whether you believe it or not. You are slowly building your work ethic, your character, and your history of success. Success tends to build on previous success, so what you do today - this very minute - matters. 
  • Apply It to the SAT: Although the SAT is not the end-all, be-all for having a great college experience, it can certainly help you get there. No, the SAT does not ultimately determine whether or not you will have a happy, fulfilling life, (there are lots of things the SAT does NOT predict or determine), but it is one of the facets that can help place you where you want to be. So, when you sit for the SAT, take it seriously because you are shaping your future with the exam. 

His Quote: "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." 

  • Your Lesson: Anyone can do a mediocre job and call it a day. In fact, most people do, which is why average behavior is called...well...average. But why not set yourself apart? As Jobs said, "be a yardstick of quality," which means that you should be the standard to which other students your age are being held. And set the bar high, too. If you have more to give of yourself, don't settle for good when you can be extraordinary. 
  • Apply It to the SAT: Determine exactly the score you'd like to make on the SAT before you ever prep and make yourself a plan to get there. Determine which college or university you would like to attend, and then find out the sorts of scores their accepted students are making. Then, you'll know what you should be aiming for. Demand excellence from yourself as you study (tuning out distractions, finding appropriate study spots) so that it's what you expect from yourself every time you crack open a book. 

His Quote: "Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith." 

  • Your Lesson: You will be knocked down. You will fail. It happens to everyone. Life sometimes gets in the way of your goals. Perhaps you wanted to study, but you forgot all of your books at school. Or, perhaps you intended to work extra hours to save money for college applications, but you got sick. Sometimes, life can be tough! But as Steve Jobs said, we can't be disheartened by failures and setbacks. We will only succeed at any endeavor if we push forward and keep trying. 
  • Apply It to the SAT: You are going to have days where you can't prep for the SAT because of an illness or a car accident or just because you are upset, angry, disgusted, or worried. (Those inner distractions can be tough, too!) But if you build wiggle room into your study plan so you can accommodate those days where you just did not have it in you to prepare for the SAT, then you won't be in trouble when test day rolls around. 

Steve Jobs' Legacy

Steve Jobs passed away in 2011 at the age of 56 from pancreatic cancer. Although his legacy is filled with both good and bad moments (he has long been disparaged for some of his personal shortcomings), you can take his words to heart when you prep for the SAT because his advice is sage, no matter what you are trying to accomplish.