The Most Effective SAT Study Plan

Funny picture of ear trainingIf you have not yet taken the SAT, you must start thinking about it. Yes, I’m talking to all of you: the high school senior taking it in December, the high school sophomore who still doesn’t know what the SAT is, the 8th grader who is probably already in bed by now, and even—no, especially—all you unborn fetuses reading this. If you have a brain, you need to be thinking about the SAT.

Why? Well, the answer’s simple: thinking about the SAT is a lot easier than studying for it. And you need to be doing one of those two things.

Actually, you need to be doing both, all the time, everyday. If you want to go to college, you’ll need to take either the SAT or ACT. If you want to do well, you need to start studying now.

Presently, there are 3,451 books that have been published to help you prep for the SAT. By the time you finish reading this sentence, there will have been 3,457 books published. Basically, if you could get through a prep book a week, you’d be on social security before you were ready to take the SAT. Assuming social security still exists 66 years from now, and hasn’t been replaced with Facebook Farmville Food Credits or something of that sort.

The point is there are more SAT study plans than there are students who will actually take the SAT. It’s practically impossible to know which plan to go with. Your friend tells you to get the Princeton Review book while Expl0ded37, a member of the online academic think tank known as Yahoo Answers, tells you to just read as many novels as you can.

Thankfully, we’re here to cut through all of the BS*. (Note: this is a humor blog. Feel free to comment that this guide is “sooper useles” and “iditoic,” especially now that we’ve mentioned those adjectives, but don’t expect this to be more than slightly helpful.)

*BS stands for Bean Soup. In case you hadn’t noticed, this is a clean blog.

Get Romantically Involved

Yep, the first step to doing well on the SAT is to get romantically involved. The trick is to find the right significant other.

For most of you, that means Quizlet. Yes, the online website will become your new romantic partner. You’ll spend all of your spare time with it. You’ll make sacrifices so that you can see it every day. You’ll even take it everywhere, thanks to the handy Quizlet app. Here’s a question: at school dances, whom will you dance with? If you said Quizlet, you are correct.

Only in this monogamous, devoted relationship will you be able to possibly learn enough vocabulary so that you know every word on the test. Otherwise, “ubiquitous” might leave you questioning whether or not you are hallucinating— that’s certainly not a word.

Check Your Math

Most people find the math on the SAT the easiest section. Most people will also make a few obvious mistakes. Had they checked their work, though, they would have caught the mistakes.

So, rather than focusing on actually learning any math, just focus on checking your math. That way, you can cut down on mistakes. Thus, when you get to a problem where you have absolutely no idea what to do, you can check your work! Now you can be certain that you had absolutely no idea what to do and that you didn’t make any dumb mistakes not knowing what to do and not doing what you didn’t know.

Train Your Ear

When it comes to the writing section, a widely used strategy is to “hear” the error. That way, you don’t need to learn any grammar rules. So, you must train your ear.

Here’s where you might go wrong: you might think that training your ear is as simple as reading some well-structured sentences every day. It’s not.

If you are truly devoted to getting a high score, you need to take this advice more seriously. The biggest problem is that you hear many spoken grammatical errors throughout your day at school. Teens are always saying things like, “Me and my friend,” “You were with who?” and “Dude it were so sick that they was did it.”

To avoid dulling your ear, you need to wear earplugs to school for a week before the test. If you want to hide this, then just put a pair of headphones over them. Sure, you might be late to every class, not hearing the bell, and you might fail that French listening test, but it’s worth it.

Wait a second. What are we saying? Study? For a test? The only people who ever do that grow up to start lucrative business ventures. I have no idea what “lucrative” or “ventures” means, so I’m going to assume that’s a bad thing.

Heck, don’t study more than you need to. Sure, if you want to get a 3000 out of 2400, then you might want to follow this guide. Otherwise, there’s probably no need to make a fool of yourself when people see you taking Quizlet to dinner and a movie.

So, since you’re probably not too concerned about the SAT, perhaps you’d rather increase your coolness factor. In that case, you should check out “4 Ways to Make Your Phone 4 Times as Cool,” published at this time last year.

The Bubbles (at the Beginning of Standardized Tests) are Not Your Friend

You should figure out why you can't see this pictureIf you’ve ever taken a standardized test, then you know that there is one thing the prep books don’t prep you on. One thing the practice tests don’t practice. And one thing that the teachers never teach you.

And that one thing is: [dramatic pause]

[really dramatic pause]

[Dramatic pause with a capital ‘d’]

The bubbles.

Just saying the name gives me shivers.

You see, at the beginning of each standardized test, there are bubbles. Present on the front and back of the answer sheet, they must be completed before you can actually take the test. You think that that doesn’t sound awful? Read on.

The Personal Information

The first questions you will have to ‘answer’ deal with basic things, like your name. But it’s not that easy.

You see, it has to be last name, then first name, and then middle initial. Then, you have to fill out the right bubble for each letter under the letters in your name (bubbles from a-z are present). Then, you have to write a short essay about what your name means, if you have any nicknames, and your twitter handle.

Next, the proctor will mention that any personal information you put down will have to remain the same for all tests you take. That means that if you make a mistake on even one bubble, you will either be known as Hpil for the rest of your life or will have your subsequent tests tossed out (tests that you spent more time studying for than the total time you’ve spent asleep for your entire life) because of the discrepancy. That’s what I call pressure.

Moving on, the test will ask you for even more personally identifying information. They want your address. Your school. Your gender. Grade. Date. Fingerprints. Dental records.

Take any joke about identity scams, and it always will end with “…and your social security number.” Well, they want your social security number. And I’m not joking. I usually just take my neighbor’s, who usually took his neighbor’s, who took the number from the guy in front of him, and so on, so that the entire classroom puts down the social security number of the guy in the front-left corner. And that guy just put down his birthday.

The Unpredictable Survey Questions

At least, with the personal information questions, you know the answers. That isn’t true with the next batch of questions.

First, they’ll ask about your parents: level of education of each, the type of degree each has, what each had for breakfast, etc. There will be a bubble for each answer, including a bubble for each type of breakfast food. You have no idea how many bubbles that is.

Then, they will want to know information about you in regards to the test.

Why are you taking the test?
Answers include: because your teacher told you to, because you want college credit, because you want to demonstrate your ability, or because you are insane and enjoy studying upwards of 200 hours a week*.

How did you prepare for the test?
Answers for this one include: you took a prep class, you took a class for it at school, you studied 200 hours a week, or you sacrificed your calculator to the omnipotent College Board celestial being.

Finally, they will ask questions that the lawyers wrote.

For example: By checking the box below, you grant College Board, and all of its affiliates, a royalty-free license to republish any of your submitted work without personally identifying information for educational purposes, as well as allowing College Board to steal your social security number and name, not to mention what your parents had for breakfast, for educational and statistical purposes in addition to making a lot of money on the black market. (If you do not check the box below, we will do all that anyway henceforth, so you might as well check the box).

*There aren’t actually 200 hours in a week. That’s how much you were studying.

The Tempo

During all these questions, you will be instructed when to move on. The proctor for the test can only tell you to move on once everyone has finished. That means you have to wait while Aramanthurson Queesleberry-Smith bubbles in his entire name until you can even start bubbling in the date.

Sure, you could go on and hope you don’t get caught. But if you get caught, who knows what the proctor will do. They’ve already drilled holes in the whiteboard in the back of the room using only their eyes. And they have sparks coming from their hair.

What this means for you in the long run, though, is that not only are you stressing about each answer that you bubble, from grade level to address, you spend an insanely long time in this state of anxiety. On average, this bubbling takes three to eight hours, just for one test.

They do that on purpose, of course. This way, by the time you actually take the test, you are so brain-dead that you’ve forgotten all the information you studied. Meaning you fail, or, at best, pass with the lowest possible score, a score so disgraceful that many college-admissions officers burn your application on sight and then atomize the ashes.

So, while you already knew that standardized tests are worse than eating a brussel-sprout spinach green-bean mayonnaise hot pepper casserole that has been reheated in the microwave so many times that it glows, you are now also familiar with the bubbles. And these bubbles, unlike the innocent soap-wands of your childhood so long forgotten it might as well have been a lecture in history class, are NOT your friend.

Last year we brought you “The Problems and Uses of Trust Falls,” which is all about AP tests as well. No, actually, it’s about trust falls. To quote one commenter, it’s “funny as hell.” You should definitely check it out.

We Will Return…After AP Testing Week is Over

In the meantime, if you really can’t wait and/or will die without another post, I’ll bet there’s a post in the archives you haven’t read.

The AP Test: What is it? Some Sort of Apocalypse?

Funny ap testThere’s a famous saying which most of you probably know; it goes “April Showers bring AP Test Hours.”

But wait, you’re thinking, don’t I mean “…May flowers?” NO. I don’t mean “May flowers.” This is an unfair expectation that we humans have for the environment. So what if one flower wants to bloom early, in April, or late, in June? What are you going to do, crush it? And get a name as a cold-blooded person who crushes flowers? That’s what I thought.

I do mean that May brings around AP tests, though. This is something you probably know by now if you have any AP classes this year, and if you have any AP classes but didn’t know this, you should definitely throw yourself at my feet and try to tackle me for ruining your blissful ignorance.

Because this AP test isn’t just a test. Oh no. It’s the hardest test of your life (aside from the SATs, the PSATs, the ACTs, the SAT IIs, the TASs, the APSATs, the SAPTs, the PSAT-APs, and the MRIs).

Each AP test comprises hours, yes, hours of your day. There are countless multiple choice questions and essays galore (galore means 2, right?). The test is so bad that you actually have a break in the middle of it. Most students use this time to stuff their brain back in through their ears and take their writing hand for a quick walk around the counter to work out cramps.

And the best part is: you spend these hours trying to pick up a measly 5 points. Yep, that’s right, the entire test is graded out of 5.

Now, let’s put this in perspective. Your average AP class homework assignment is probably worth about ten points. So, if you did the homework so terribly that you got only half credit, or turned it in late for partial credit, that’s about how many points this test is worth.

Do you realize how badly you have to do on homework to get a 5 out of 10? That means taking a question like: “Which New England colony was supposed to be a ‘city on a hill?'” and answering it with: “Well, there were a lot of hills in New England, but some of them slowly eroded. So, most notably was the Hill-ton colony, which was comprised of a bunch of settlers who came to the new world to start a lucrative hotel chain based around the idea that people would pay extra for cute little shampoo bottles.” Yeah. That’s how many points the AP test is worth.

However, even more ridiculously, this score is considered important. It stacks up against 2,400 possible points on the SAT, 240 points on the PSAT, 800 points on an SAT II, 36 points on an ACT, and a “Well, the good news is that your brain is still functioning,” on an MRI.

Regardless, you are going to have to prepare for the test, if you are taking one. This includes, but is not limited to: taking the AP class, buying a supplemental AP class guide, sleeping less than two hours a night, buying another supplemental AP class guide, walking to your classes frantically talking to yourself, building a house out of all the supplemental AP class guides for your AP class of choice, and/or reading the supplemental class guides or textbook.

Then, of course, you have to sign up for the test. This ensues paying a fee, giving out your personal information, donating a sliver of your spleen, and clicking that link in the confirmation email.

What if you’re not taking an AP test this year? Well, you should definitely take one next year. Why? Because you are a mindless teenager and I told you to.

While this may not sound like a boatload of fun, or even a kayak-full of fun, or even a life preserver-full of fun (yes, I am aware that live preservers have a hole in them, causing a leak, meaning they can hold very small amounts of fun), you have to consider that most students love the subject and are thus willing to make the necessary sacrifices. I mean, who doesn’t love Microeconomics?

Not worried about or not taking AP tests in a few weeks? Then I bet you still have to write essays for class. And that’s where “The Story of the Works Cited Page,” comes in, providing a, um, factual, yeah, factual historical account of why those essays require so much information in each citation.