College Board (The company that makes the SAT) is partnering with Khan Academy to help students all around the world prepare for the SAT. I can say from personal experience that you should definitely use Khan Academy as one of your main go-to areas for SAT practice.
I personally came across Khan Academy years ago, and can tell you right now that it is the real deal.
It’s completely FREE + you get four official practice exams endorsed by College Board. Not to mention the option to practice specific sections and numerous SAT tips and strategies.
When I was preparing for my SAT, Khan Academy was one of the materials I used for preparation, especially for the math section. It wasn’t officially partnered with College Board at the time, but it’s content was of the highest quality. Now, it’s built on that content with the help of College Board, so definitely check it out!
Two: Your main resource - The College Board
Building on my former point, one of the materials you should definitely use when studying for the SAT is “The Official SAT Study Guide” by The College Board.
Well, if you were going to write an exam and wanted to do well on it, what/who would be your best source of information?
The people who WROTE the questions to the exam, aka the College Board.
Since the SAT was redesigned very recently (March 2016), the College Board is invaluable in helping you, the international student, understand the types of questions that will appear on the test and how to best prepare for them.
Also, their guide includes four practice exams in print - the same ones from Khan Academy - which you can use as practice exams for imitating the real thing. In other words, a “Mock” exam.
The Official SAT Study Guide should be available at a book store near you, or you can order it online.
Three: Be wary of books by other companies
A lot of other brands and people claim to be experts when it comes to practicing for the SAT. These can help – to a certain extent – but these people and companies have NOT designed the SAT nor have they written a single question for the it - ever.
Don’t get me wrong, these resources can be helpful for understanding concepts and theories, and even advanced problems sometimes, but when it comes to practice, nothing can replace the real thing.
Besides, since the Redesigned SAT is relatively new, it’s going to be even harder for these other companies to emulate the types of questions the SAT asks, since they have a very small pattern to follow or go on.
Four: Use other books for Extra prep, but be prudent.
Of course, once you feel that you’re thorough with the material from Khan Academy and The Official SAT guide, you can freely browse through books for extra preparation and pick the right one(s) for you.
Keep one thing in mind though that it is your hard work and effort that is going to be the main contributing factor in your success on the SAT. Nothing can replace hard work.
You can have the best SAT prep book in the world, but it would be absolutely useless if you didn’t open it up and put some effort and hard work!
Having said that, I would recommend PR (Princeton Review) and Barron’s. I have personally used guides from both these companies, and both were very helpful in their own ways.
The PR textbook, along with the College Board guide, helped me get a solid foundation for the basics of the SAT and taught me some advanced techniques. It also showed me math strategies that were helpful and helped me cut the time I took on the math sections by approximately 40%.
As for Barron’s, I didn’t use the general Barron’s guide, since I had already understood a lot of the basics. Instead, I used the “Barron’s SAT 2400: Aiming for the perfect score”. It helped me understand how to tackle the harder questions and get a deeper understanding of the test and strategies needed to achieve a really high score, which I did.
Do keep in mind that Barron’s has released a new version called the “SAT 1600” because of the Redesigned SAT. I would obviously recommend getting the newer version since the old one has a lot of outdated material.
Five: Time management
You might already know this, but the previous SAT had ten sections, while the new one has just five.
Does that mean the test is now shorter?
No, the test time, with essay, is still kinda the same: 3 hours 50 minutes. It’s increased by only about 5 minutes. “Po-tay-to, Po-ta-to”.
The reduction of five sections do mean that since there are five less “TIME” calls by the proctor, time management is of the utmost importance.
I would recommend carrying a stop watch with you. The testing hall will probably have a clock, but you have to calculate how much time is left every time you look at it. Now, if you have a stopwatch, you can save precious seconds by knowing the time with just a quick glance. It might not seem like a big deal, but when those extra seconds add up, they make all the difference in the world.
Let’s say you started a 25-minute section at 10:55. If you looked up and saw the above clock in the exam hall, would you be able to quickly figure out how much time you have left?
It’s a very cheap solution as well, as you can do this with literally any stopwatch – even the most basic ones.
Do make sure that the watch doesn’t beep or make sounds, as this is not permitted according to the SAT rules and regulations. If it’s a chill proctor, he might let it slide but a grumpy old proctor in a bad mood can confiscate your watch. And he’ll have a right to it.
So it’s better to be safe than sorry, and frankly you don’t want lose your time-tracking asset just because of a little beep!