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Oh no! You just realized that thanks to procrastination you are now a week away from the SAT and haven’t even cracked open the 10 SAT prep books you bought. Fear not, here is a guide to studying for the SAT when you only have a week left. The only things you will need is some dedication for the week and access to several practice tests (you can find plenty for free online).

Day 1

Going into this week it is important to know exactly where you are at in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you haven’t looked at parabola in two years or for the life of you can’t use abhor in a sentence. No matter what you are struggling with, it is important to address it.

What to do:

  1. Set a goal score for each section (be realistic, if you got 450 on SAT math, an 800 while fantastic may not be an attainable goal).
  2. Take a full practice test. Be sure to adhere to time restrictions and all other rules. Take the test in one sitting, making it as similar to the real deal as possible.
  3. Score your practice test. Categorize each of the sections (reading, math, writing) into one of three categories “Needs improvement (150+ points away from goal for the section)” “Okay (50-150 points away from goal)” or “Good (no more than 50 points away from goal)”. Use these categorizations to help you prioritize what sections you need to work on.

Bonus (if you have time): Go through your practice exam and see if your weaknesses have any patterns (example: you noticed that you struggled a lot more with algebra based questions than geometry based questions).

Day 2

Today is the day to address any major problems. If you don’t have any sections that got categorized as “Needs improvement” instead follow today’s directions with any section that was categorized as “Okay”. If all of your sections were categorized as “Good” pick any section/s of your choice and focus on them.

What to do:

  1. Take one section (meaning a 25 minutes section test). Practice test for any/all sections that you categorized as “Needs improvement”. Repeat this for all of your “Needs improvement” sections.
  2. Again score them. This time really take the time to focus on what you were getting wrong and why you were getting the questions wrong. Did you not know the material well enough? Were you rushing through the material? Did you spend too long on the first few questions and had to rush to catch up? Did you not review your answers and that led to mistakes that could have been avoided? There are countless possibilities, try and be honest with yourself.

Bonus: Repeat steps 1 and 2 for any sections you may not have already done today.

Day 3

Today you will be working with the same sections as yesterday. Remind yourself of what you identified as your weaknesses that were lowering your scores.

What to do:

  1. Note: This is not applicable to all. If any of your weaknesses were material based take the time to review the material behind what is giving you trouble (there are lots of awesome resources that review material online).
  2. After reminding yourself of your weaknesses once again take a section for each of the subjects. This time deliberately address anything that could be impacting your score. Score your sections.
  3. If you have any sections that you categorized as “Okay” and have not addressed yet, follow steps 1-2 of Day 2.

Bonus: Repeat step 1 for any other sections.

Day 4

Now it is time to go back to addressing the test as an entity as opposed to individual sections. Today the focus is on improving your familiarity and comfort with all of the sections. As always give yourself realistic testing conditions in regards to things like time.

What to do:

  1. Take a practice section test for each section (reading, math, writing) and also do a practice timed essay. Score them.
  2. If step 3 of Day 3 was applicable to you, now complete steps 1-2 of Day 3 for that section/s.

Bonus: Instead of doing one section of each, do a complete practice test.

Day 5

Congrats, you’ve made it this far! Today is about making sure that you get as much practice as possible (after all practice makes perfect).

What to do:

  1. If there is anything conceptual that you still don’t feel so confident about, now is the time to review. Take some time to look over concepts, definitions, and anything else that you think you should review.
  2. Take a full practice test (as always adhere to time constraints).
  3. Score your test; take the time to compare your results from Day 1.

Bonus: If there is anything you are still unhappy about after step 3 today, take the time to review the material some more.

Day 6

So tomorrow is the big day, you are taking the SAT. Don’t worry everything will go great. Don’t stress out today; instead take some time to relax. Watch a movie, hang out with friends, read a good book, you get the idea.

What to do:

  1. Have fun and relax.
  2. Go to bed early, get lots of sleep.

Bonus: Eat healthy food so that you will have lots of energy tomorrow.

Day 7

It is finally test day. Be confident, you have done lots of prep in the past week. Don’t forget a snack and your calculator!

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the author

Samantha Linder is a sophomore at Smith College where she is double majoring in neuroscience and art history. Samantha's favorite words include hippocampus, logorrhea, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

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