SAT Time Management – High school is full of activity. Whether you play sports, act in school plays, have a job, take care of siblings, or are taking hard classes – or even doing more than one of these things! – you have almost certainly looked at the clock before and been shocked by how little time you have to get everything done. Throw SAT prep into the mix, and it can seem like there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
While you may not be able to cut down on all of your responsibilities during SAT practice time, there are some ways you can structure your planning and studying to keep things going smoothly and ensuring that nothing gets left by the wayside. Several high school students offered up some of their time management suggestions:
SAT Time Management Strategy
BIG TIP #1: Make a study plan
Study a little bit at a time: “The first thing I did was take out a calendar and chart out the type of section I was going to study each day. I tried to study a little bit every day of the week and take off weekends, but adjusted this as needed. I personally think doing well is about forming habits – studying a little each day for a month or two is much more effective than cramming the same material in a week.” – Aneesh
Figure out your system: “I like to have certain times throughout the week dedicated to studying. I’ve gotten into the habit of sleeping early (10pm) and waking up early (7am) to do work instead of doing work at 1am. The work I do in the morning is lower-priority homework or assignments to help me wake up. My committees and extracurriculars occur after school and change times often, so I fit my more important homework around it. Essentially, creating a system and a schedule that works is key. I don’t use an agenda or a planner, but I get around just fine because I have a system. It’s about experimenting for SAT time management and finding one that will keep you sane through the busiest times.” – Eric
Go after the low-hanging fruit first: “When possible, I stay after school or go to a coffee shop right after school with a friend in order to get some homework out of the way immediately. I always find that when I get home after a long day at school, I don’t have motivation to start my work, and am more likely to procrastinate and not try as hard. Working/studying right after school before I go home allows me to get small assignments out of the way, so I have more time at home to study and do other assignments. At home, I break up my work time and give myself many breaks. I usually try to work for 45mins to an hour and then give myself a 10 minute break. I switch subjects, and if something is taking a long time I’ll take a break from it, work on something else, and then come back to it.” – Fariha
“Make a list of things that are most to least important (ex: 1. math, 2. english studying, 3. music practice, etc.). Write down the main things you need to get done in those subjects. Concentrate on the most important one first. Sometimes I tend to get pretty overwhelmed by certain projects and assignments and studying so when I go through each subject I split up the work into very simple steps, then I’m not nearly as worried about an assignment (example: to write an essay: 1) brainstorm for 4 minutes 2) cross out ideas that won’t work 3) write basic outline…) This always keeps me from procrastinating. Give yourself 5 minute breaks now and then, usually for breaks I make some tea or listen to music. Refocusing is not too hard when you give yourself simple steps to do after the break.” – Elyse
Listen to yourself: “Check in with yourself to see how you feel before starting to study; do you feel like memorizing math formulas right now? Do you want to go ahead and write that paper? Or maybe you’d rather just read? Do what you feel will be most productive. Just make sure that you really stick to the time limits and follow your study guide once you’ve made it. Feel free to come back to assignments after taking a small break or working on another task.” – Emily
BIG TIP #2: Keep yourself on track
Stick to your schedule: “Yes, we all deal with the temptation of procrastination. It’s like a cupcake that later gives us food poisoning. We can avoid the costs of procrastination by making a schedule, and committing to that schedule. Sometimes I will purposely write deadlines for myself that are a couple days before the actual assignment is due as a way of “tricking myself.” It’s a pretend due date! That way, if I procrastinate, it won’t be so harmful.” – Eillen
Estimate the time you need: “I plan out what homework I have and how long I think it will take me. I usually work for an hour to and hour and a half and take a 10 minute break. During a break, I play basketball, listen to music, or read.” – Sahil
Start with mini-deadlines: “Setting a deadline usually isn’t enough for a study plan – go through what you need to cover and make mini-deadlines for each section.” – Jody
Take breaks: “ It’s definitely important that you take some sort of break(s) during your study sessions. Some people say that your brain can only focus for 20 minutes at a time, so don’t push your study sessions if you find that you can’t focus or you aren’t retaining any information. Make sure that you are doing something that you find enjoyable so that you find some balance. You want to feel refreshed and truly rested when you return to your studying because you’ve worked hard!” – Emily
BIG TIP #3: Stay organized
Put everything in writing: “I always write everything that I have to do each day in a physical agenda, and I write reminders of test dates and due dates in as well to remind me of what’s coming in days to come. Having all of my tasks laid out keeps me organized and gives me incentive to finish everything, just so I can check things off!” – Heeju
Set yourself up for rewards: “Always make a to do list. I make a to do list with the smallest tasks such as “email ___” so that I am able to cross out something. Having a planner or a to do list gives me a specific set of things that I need to do and nothing feels better than physically crossing something off that list. When I finish a medium to large sized task, I allow myself a specific amount of time to go outside, go on social media, or go into the kitchen to get food. These little breaks serve as mini rewards for completing tasks.” – Tiffany
Think ahead: Each Sunday, I write out all the homework or mandatory work I anticipate to receive over the next week, because most of the times, teachers assign regular problem sets or papers that are predictable in advance. Each daily plan that I formulate includes a portion of this list of homework. This helps me keep track of due dates so that I don’t miss any homework, and gives me the joy of erasing completed items from the long list to eventually make it blank. If I keep my set schedule, then I know I won’t have to worry about late work or time management. Overall I would say SAT time management is more about self discipline than anything else” – Gaeun
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