Do-it-yourself guide for online SAT prep

You know that many colleges and universities consider the SAT in their admission process, but how can you make sure you're ready for the big test? Learning centers and private tutors offer focused SAT study--if you can afford it. Luckily, you can become your own SAT tutor with a little help from the Web.

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This guide provides resources for do-it-yourself SAT prep, as well as some advice from a former SAT private tutor. These online SAT prep tools range from YouTube videos to the official SAT Question of the Day from the College Board, which administers the test.

7 DIY tools for online SAT prep

Free or wallet-friendly tools for SAT study include the following:

  1. Practice tests: While the College Board offers official SAT guides for a fee, the website has a free practice test and sample subject test questions. The Princeton Review website also features an SAT online test prep demo and practice test.
  2. Word games: At English-Test.net, you can test your knowledge of verbs, nouns and adjectives with SAT verbal word games. Once the quiz is finished, check your answers and read the word definitions. The site also sells an SAT prep package, but plenty of free materials can keep you occupied.
  3. Timers: Timing is everything with the SAT, and timers should help guide your online SAT prep. Online-Stopwatch.com offers a countdown timer to limit your test-taking time and a stopwatch to learn how much time it takes to complete different problems. You can find out which problems take the most time and focus on those.
  4. Flash cards: You can make your own flash cards when you study for SAT by yourself, or you can rely on free resources. Sheppard Software provides vocabulary flash cards, featuring over 700 words. Click each card to find a detailed definition, including a use of the word in context.
  5. Math guides: Conquer the math section when you study for SAT by yourself. Private tutor Erik Jacobsen offers math SAT resources, including subject guides, strategies, and must-know facts and formulas.
  6. Tutorial videos: If you're a visual learner, YouTube tutorials can help you reason through math and verbal questions. Check out RadicalPrep's YouTube page for a list of walkthrough videos.
  7. Web forums: Find an online community and get your questions answered with sites like College Confidential. Web forums can help you feel less alone in your do-it-yourself SAT prep. Recent threads in College Confidential's SAT forum include ACT vs. SAT and Please help me choose prep books!

Advice from a former SAT tutor

Here's a tip on test preparation from Isa Adney, who has years of experience as a verbal and grammar SAT and ACT tutor with a privately-owned tutoring company. She suggests that students buy a Princeton Review test prep book and set up regular study sessions with friends to go through the practice questions. A structured study schedule can help you stay on track, and the group sessions offer social support if you have decided to study for SAT by yourself.

Adney, a mentor and public speaker who currently blogs at Community College Success, emphasizes the importance of preparing for the SAT: "We live in a society where this standardized test thing directs a lot of success and advancement."

Study for SAT by yourself, or invest in a private tutor?

Free tutorials and videos can guide your do-it-yourself SAT prep, but when you hit a mental roadblock, professional help can make your life easier. Adney explains that private tutoring can focus on each student's particular needs, unlike group classes, which may spend time on concepts students have already grasped.

Various sites can help you find home tutors in the subject you need. At WyzAnt, you can search specifically for SAT tutors in your area, including their specific location, hourly rate and specialization. PowerScore offers guided online SAT prep, including about 18 hours of interactive instruction and over 1,400 pages of prep materials.

Motivating yourself for SAT self-study

When it comes to do-it-yourself SAT prep, will-power and self-discipline are key. Adney advises students to remember why this studying is important--visualize where you want to go to college and what you want to do with your life. "Otherwise," Adney says, "it's almost impossible to muster up the motivation to dedicate yourself to studying for a big standardized test. There has to be a bigger goal in mind than a test score."

With its three sections--reading, writing and math--and a possible score of 800 points for each section, the SAT test can definitely be a challenge. Take advantage of the resources and support available for do-it-yourself SAT prep, so that you can show colleges that you have the skills needed to be successful.

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