Preparing for the SAT comes down to just a few things:
- Going to school: You’re doing it!
- Completing homework: You’re doing it!
- Creating a study plan and sticking to it: Study groups can make the difference.
Why Study Groups Work
- Community: Your study group will unite around a common goal—to do your best on the SAT.
- Accountability: You won’t let teammates down because they’re counting on you to show up and stay focused.
- Support when you need it: The group will be there to help you get unstuck.
- Stress relief: Sharing a plan with others reduces test stress.
Research shows that students who study together learn 2.5 times as much as students who study alone—but staying focused is a must.
How to Get Started
To start a successful study group, you’ll need to figure a few things out: who, where, and when.
- The right size: You want a team that’s big enough to be a strong, effective resource and small enough to answer at least one question per person each time you meet: look for five to eight members.
- The right mix: Put together a group of students who are strong in different skills. Go to Inside The Test to find out which skills the SAT tests.
- The right timing: Find students who plan to take the SAT the same day you do so the timeline will work for everyone.
Your group needs someone to keep things running smoothly, doing things like making sure everyone knows about schedule changes, finding places to meet, and tracking progress toward goals.
A group sponsor—like a teacher, coach, or parent—could take on these responsibilities, but so can you or another group member. It’s good experience and, besides, leading an extracurricular activity is a plus on college applications.
Or consider taking turns. The leader-of-the-week can prepare ahead of time to guide the day’s discussion.
Get the Checklist
If you’re ready to take the lead and start up your own group, get going with these to-do's.
You’ll need a space where you can talk, but one that’s not too noisy. A computer lab might be a good option. Look for a space with:
- A white board, chalk board, or easel to write on for group problem-solving.
- Outlets, if you’re able to bring laptops.
You’ll also need a quiet room you can use when you take full-length SAT practice tests. You could take them on your own time, but taking them as a group makes it more like the real thing, which can pay off on test day.
Make it easier for your team to show up by creating a schedule that works:
- Ask everyone to commit to one or two meetings a week, for 45 to 60 minutes.
- Choose days and times when you’ll be focused and won’t want to do something else. For example, in the morning before school starts, during your lunch break or free period, or at night at someone's house.