Over the past two decades, I have been a student of my students, particularly those who have made the best improvements on these tests. What do they do that most students don’t?
I have found it boils down to four habits students should have:
(1) Do all of their practice, to the best of their ability, under timed conditions. When students do their best, they get the most out of their practice and will automatically be in “go” mode on test day. Practicing under timed conditions will ensure slower-working students know what pace they must work at to finish on time. Faster students will know how much time they have to go back to check their answers.
(2) Go over explanations to questions they have wrong. Taking practice tests repeatedly is not enough. Students must learn all they can from a practice test before moving on to the next. In The Official Study Guide to the SAT, there is an explanation to each question. I also have almost 400 video explanations to the questions in that book (which is the only book on the market that includes real SATs) at https://www.youtube.com/c/IvyMastersLearningCenter. Learning from mistakes by going over explanations is essential to the learning process.
(3) Know how the strategy relates to the questions they have wrong. Should I have picked numbers for a math problem? How do I approach vocabulary-in-context on the reading? How does the writing and language section expose my misconceptions of colons? There are many books and services that address strategy on these tests.
(4) Practice and study an hour per day. If a student never went to basketball practice—just showed up for the game—that student is going to play terribly. Test prep is no different. Putting the time in to improve is essential