The Student News Site of Carl Sandburg High School



SAT Preparation Season in Full Swing

Juniors, mark your calendars for April 15, because SAT exams are on the horizon. This year, the SAT will begin administering exams digitally, meaning test content, format, and, as a result, preparation, will differ. 

The math section will include a built-in calculator that is accessible through Bluebook, the application on which students will take the exam. Ms. Slattery, a Math 2 and 3 teacher and SAT prep tutor, states, “Since it’s online, they’re allowing Desmos, which is huge. Even within my Math 2 and Math 3 classes, I’ve been trying to incorporate Desmos so that students get more experience with it. When they head to the SAT, they know when they can utilize it to solve a specific problem. If you know how to use it, it becomes very useful on the SAT.”

Juniors have been emailed about a SAT prep class, offered by a company named ExcelEdge, which offers a strategy-based curriculum for students to benefit from. As one of the tutors of this program, Ms. Slattery notes,” It’s a strategy-based test prep class, so we go over different strategies that are usable instead of covering test content. Students who come in and do the work are going to get a lot out of the class because they’re going to different ways to approach problems. Taking those skills and applying them, as well as the familiarity of the test itself ends up helping them out when they take the test.”

Sabrine Zatar, a junior taking the ExcelEdge course, recalls the strategies that she has learned and practiced. “I learned how to answer questions while glancing at answers, using the figures given, and how to read the questions thoroughly.”

College Board also noted that the digital SAT will be shortened from three hours to two, and passages will change from fewer, longer texts to a higher number of shorter reading passages. 

Mrs. McBride, an English teacher who teaches AP Language and Composition, Freshman English Honors, and American Literature, states, “If you work on timing, you can figure out how many questions you can answer in an amount of time, and practice working on reading the passage. Then you can set a timer and practice pacing the questions, as well as adjusting to the timing of the test.” 

But juniors, especially those who participate in extracurriculars and challenging classes, often do not have many opportunities outside of school that allow them to focus on the SAT. The SAT is a highly anticipated test with what seems like an endless amount of content to learn; a feeling of overwhelm and uncertainty isn’t uncommon.

SAT preparation books at the Orland Park Public Library – Photo courtesy of Zainab Azeem

Khan Academy, a non-profit educational organization, is highly recommended by not only teachers in Sandburg like Mrs. McBride and Ms. Slattery, but by teachers, parents, and students around the world. With recent changes to the SAT, Khan Academy has now offered a new section dedicated to the Digital SAT. Students can link their College Board account to Khan Academy to receive personalized practice questions and work on skills that they faced during a previous SAT / PSAT exam. 

Mrs. McBride says,” There are a bunch of online platforms that give free practice questions. Sites like and have words and SAT-based vocabulary lists. Some sites might have premium subscriptions, but a lot of them should also have free content. If you’re proactive and seek these out, it helps you to increase vocab and recognize wrong answers and distractors. Vocab is something everyone needs to focus on; I think that’s an area that we all need some work with.”

Ms. Slattery follows this idea by explaining that,” You have to be incredibly disciplined to study for it because I think everybody can relate to waiting last-minute to study for a test. It’s not a test that you can study at the last minute, or even a week before. You have to consistently practice. There are plenty of resources, but the hardest thing is setting a time to study for it. If you don’t make the time for it, you’re never going to have time.”

From a student perspective, Zatar suggests to “Look at your weak spots and try to work on those. Once you work on those and you’re able to improve on those, you’ll be likely to get a better score.” 

The SAT has been a test that opened doors of opportunities to students. Now that it has gone online and become more accessible to students, when well-prepared and ready, they will be able to open these doors knowing they have the skills they need to reach for a hopeful future. 

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