Being a high school student in 2016 is like being an octopus in an elaborate circus balancing act, except you wish you had more arms. Between school, homework, papers, band rehearsal, track meets, a part-time job, and oh yeah, college applications — isn’t this supposed to be the best time of your life?! As you’re being pulled in many directions at once in this last and crucial year, you already know you have to study for the SAT, too, but how? How do you fit in one more thing into your life, barring a tear in the time-space continuum that would give you a few more hours in the day or weeks in the month? Here are a few tips for managing your time, schedule, and life while prepping.
The earlier you start thinking about college prep and applications, the more control you’ll have over your time. If you know your fall is going to be busy because of athletics or that your spring will be busy because of your work on the yearbook, plan to prep in the opposite season. If your entire semester is jam-packed, use your summer or winter break wisely. Look for any large activities you can shift around to make room for SAT prep and college applications. Determine your preferred test date and work backwards from there.
Simply having “study for the SAT” as a mental to-do just won’t do. It’s too nebulous, easy to ignore, and can become discouraging. Imagine someone asked you to “learn to play the piano” this week — that’s a huge task. Where would you even start? Instead, choose small, measurable goals and assign them a place and a time. For example “work 10 math problems and review the answers and explanations, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday.” If you use a calendar or planner to keep track of your schedule, add these goals to their timeslot. They’ll be much harder to ignore.
We all have them, those things we mean to do for “five minutes” that turn into several lost hours. It might be a trip down Instagram lane or a Netflix bite that turned into a binge, but the more honest you are with yourself about identifying these time vampires, the easier it will be to manage them. It might be as easy as being aware of your distractions, or you can get proactive: stash your phone on a top shelf and on silent for an hour (unless you’re studying with Prep4SAT), unplug and stow away your laptop, or download apps that block out your major distractions for a set amount of time.
Life won’t pause for you in your junior and senior year, or any year for that matter. There will be birthday parties, and trips, and concerts, and you’ll want to say “yes” to them all, but you need to learn to say “no.” Prioritizing your work (and fun) will come in handy in college, too, so don’t fear the FOMO. More importantly, don’t pick up additional commitments, no matter how much your friends ask. Make your priorities clear, and enlist supporters. Don’t apologize for not being available, you’re busy building your future. More than that, don’t be afraid to reprioritize your time and take a step back, if needed. And, getting the great SAT score you want the first time means you’ll only need to worry about the exam once, rather than going through the stress of studying for multiple test dates.
Whether your goal is a target score or a dream school, make it tangible. Find a photo of your dream school and make it your phone background, and set your target score inside the Prep4SAT app and add your dream schools to My Top Schools! You’re studying for a reason, right? Visualize where you want to be and think about how much you’d like to be there, and make it happen.
How are you fitting your SAT studying and college application into your hectic schedule? Share your best tips with us below and check out our YouTube video for Prep4SAT here!