SATs – The SATs are nearing, how to prep, and why they are important


Many Juniors are spending the next couple of weeks preparing for what could be the biggest test of their lives. Photo Courtesy of Ali Hickman

The SATs have been around for decades, causing students and parents pain in all its standardized glory. With the school year coming to an end, the SATs are just around the corner for the class of 2024, and a lot of students have found themselves questioning not only if taking the test is worth it, but how to prepare for it as well. In order to figure that out, it’s important to have a good understanding of what the SATs are in the first place.

The Princeton Review explains, “The SAT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. The SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test created and administered by the College Board.

  The idea of these exams are to measure a high school student’s readiness for college while simultaneously offering and providing colleges that they feel might fit the student’s ideal career path. Those who have taken the PSATs know that there are two main sections on the test – math and reading/writing – and that it’s three hours long. For some that’s a lot of time and for others not enough.  

As time has passed, the SATs have gone from being completely required to enter a college to highly recommended. This has left a lot of high school students wondering if they should even bother taking the SATs. Even if the college they desire to go to doesn’t require them, going through with the test actually has many interesting benefits.

According to the College Board, the organization that provides the tests, SAT scores help colleges compare students from different high schools, can show a students strengths and readiness for college work, and can help students get farther based on the higher scores they have. The website providing information says that, “Admissions tests let colleges find you, if colleges have an interest based on your scores, grades, and other characteristics.” 

Not only does your score help colleges find you, but they might even determine if you are worthy of a scholarship. You can earn scholarship money by taking the test which can benefit the college experience. When it comes to SATs, you can get a range of different scholarships depending on your scores. The higher you score, the more money you can earn. If students are interested in that, they can learn more here.

Studying for the SATs is an entire ordeal in itself. It can be overwhelming trying to study for something so large, but there are many ways to ease the process. College Board has also given a few ways on how you can study for the tests. Starting to study early on is very beneficial – studying over an extended period of time so as to not overwhelm yourself and panic before the actual test is a smart way to go about it. You can study with official SAT practice, whether you use the College Board’s or even the ever so popular “Khan Academy” tool that many students have found helpful. It’s best to use official resources.

It’s one thing to hear all of this from official websites and organizations, so why not hear it from an actual student, instead. Arvada West High School’s very own Madeline Lyon, a Junior, has taken the PSATs two times and has also taken a further step forward and actually studied for them.

Lyon explains what she used to study and why she did, going on to say, “I did study for the PSAT the second time I took it. I studied using Khan Academy, they have an actual whole test you can take that’s three hours long. I also am currently studying for the SATs this year, taking another Khan Academy practice test and using the English Language and Composition AP book.”

Students enrolled in AP English courses have the English Language and Composition AP book provided to them which is a suitable study tool for the SATs. If you have the resources available, it poses the next question, is studying actually worth it?

“I think it is. I was a little nervous taking it [the SAT test] and I think that could have impacted how well I did on it. I think studying did help improve my overall performance.” Lyon went on to explain. 

The SATs are by no means a simple task to complete. They can be challenging and a lot of pressure – factoring in the hours of studying and prep can be even more tiring. With some colleges loosening the demands for SAT scores, a lot of students have been wondering if it’s even worth taking the tests. Lyon had a strong opinion on this, explaining “I do plan on taking the SATs this year, I’m taking them because they are available and I think that can impact my education, but also because some colleges do still require it.”

“It can set you apart from other people who are trying to get into that same college,” Lyon says, “I think it’s a good backup plan to have them. It can make you look more appealing to colleges who are accepting.”

In the end, it is up to each individual student on whether or not they want to take the SATs. There are pros and cons to whatever you decide. Arvada West makes it easy to take both the PSATs and the SATs, and if they are available then there’s no harm, no foul in participating. Giving them a shot might prove to be beneficial in the long run and even if you decide not to study, all you have to do is bring your A-game and try your hardest to receive the score you desire!