How to Study the Week Before the SAT

Laura Aitcheson

It’s the week before the SAT, and you may be trying to pack in as much studying as possible before the test. But the night before is not the time to cram in math formulas and grammar rules. Here are a few tips to get you through the week to make sure that you’re in top form for the SAT.

Laura AitchesonKaplan SAT Expert

7 Days Before the SAT

  • Familiarize yourself with test directions

    Read the directions to the test several times. Know how to shade in your name, information etc. Make sure you know where and how to shade the bubbles, especially for the free response (grid-in) questions in the math section. This way, you won’t have to waste precious time reading the directions during the test.

  • Take 1 full-length SAT Test

    Do your best to simulate the test conditions. Make sure you have everything in front of you—timer, pencils, eraser, calculator, water—and power your way through the test. This practice will not only help you with pacing but also help your body get accustomed to the stress of taking a long test. When you’re done, have someone grade the test, and give your mind a good break. Review your mistakes only when you feel recharged.

  • Take it slightly easy on yourself

    If you’re not doing a practice test, try to spend an hour or 2 tackling reading, writing, and math problems, but don’t overdo it. If you ever start to panic that you’re not doing enough, make a list of what you think you should do and then work through it systematically.

  • Get into a routine

    Try to get into some sort of routine at least 4 days before the SAT. This is a suggestion: review math formulas before you sleep, get the right amount of sleep, wake up around the same time, and review grammar rules at breakfast. This way, when you have to wake up early on Saturday to review your notes, your body will be used to it.

The Day Before the SAT (Friday)

  • Review and Relax

    You should be prepared by now. You shouldn’t be trying to work your way through more questions today. Rather, review your math notes, grammar rules, and the rhetorical features that you may analyze on the essay. Try to avoid doing anything that will tire you out too much today. Your coach and teachers will understand if you need to take it easy the day before such a big exam. Don’t spend more than an hour reviewing your notes—at this point, you just want to feel confident and relaxed.

SAT Test Day (Saturday)

  • Implement your breakfast strategy

    Wake up an hour or 2 before you need to leave, and eat a good and balanced breakfast. Make sure you don’t overeat or have anything too greasy—more blood will have to be redirected to your stomach to digest everything, leaving less blood to keep your brain sharp and alert. While you’re eating, do a quick review of your math and grammar rules, and then spend some time reading a difficult article (e.g. an editorial or report in the newspaper). Don’t let the first complex thing you read on SAT day be the reading comprehension passages. Reading something substantial at breakfast will help wake your brain up before the exam. When you’ve finished, you’ll be ready to go.