5 Tips for Acing the SAT

In 2016, The College Board is launching a new version of the scholastic aptitude test (SAT) for college admissions. The revised test, that will help determine which schools you qualify to apply for and also how much scholarship funds you can receive, has retained its three core sections of reading, math and writing. However, now evaluators combine your reading and writing scores, and the math section gets more weight. To help you ace the new SAT test, here are five great tips:

1. Forget completing sentences; study how to define vocabulary in context.

The new SAT is dropping its section of questions that ask which word should complete each sentence. Now they’re testing your vocabulary by evaluating your capacity to answer “passage-based” questions that use chunks of text to make logical arguments. This is the new evidence-support section of the revised SAT. Train for this new section by reviewing the old critical-reading sections of past SAT tests with passage-focused questions; just ignore any sentence-completion sections.

2. Prep for the new data-reasoning section by using ACT study guides.

The current version of the SAT wants you to be able to interpret any charts, graphs or other evidence to say which facts they would or wouldn’t support. This style of questioning will ask you which following argument this data “supports most.” An excellent source to study with very similar questions is the science portion of any old copy of an ACT, or American College Test. This part of the ACT also required you to analyze data. Doing well here guarantees that your SAT data-reasoning test will be a breeze.

3. Practice reading challenging books and other reading material.

Take an hour out of each day to read something you would normally never look at, like The New Yorker magazine, new articles in The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Then look up words you don’t recognize if you have to, but you should also practice guessing what unknown words mean without looking them up. Rely on context clues by seeing how the author uses the words in the sentence to understand the meaning of a new word.

4. Train yourself to write about how an author supports their point of view in a passage.

The new essay section of the SAT is twice as long; you now must make the best use of 50 minutes, instead of only 25 minutes, to write something that will impress the admissions board of your prospective college. You’ll need to be able to analyze some text and define what exactly the author is supporting and how he or she is arguing to prove his or her point. Here, you must leave aside any personal biases you may have while writing. Luckily, this portion is very much like the second, composition free-response essay question in the AP, or advanced placement, English exam, so you should practice with old copies of this test to get ready.

5. Download the updated SAT study guide.

On The College Board website, you can download the latest version of the practice test to help familiarize yourself with the new format of the 2016 SAT. The site also offers helpful hints and explanations of the new setup for the SAT. Read everything you can here to understand how it works before test day.

Here’s your takeaway:

Reviewing the old test guides from other, similar tests is an ideal way to prepare for the new SAT. Still, don’t forget the easiest way to do better on the SAT this year: answer everything! You no longer get any penalties for wrong answers, so learn how to eliminate the worst answers in multiple-choice sections and guess away to help improve your score.