SAT Tips from Student Who Aced the SAT

Posted on 25th February 2011 in Tampa SAT Preparation

Question and answer interview with Jacobi Vaughn, senior at Sault Area High School:

Cordoza High School front image

This image created by NCinDC and licensed under (CC BY-ND 2.0). See more of his photos in his Flickr photostream at

Why did you take the SAT? What colleges are you applying for?

I took the SAT for my college application to Florida State and MIT. I originally took it in eighth grade as part of a gifted program and last year I wondered how much better I could do. Last year I also took the ACT (required in Michigan) and my scores on each were about the same.

How did you prepare for the SAT? Did you use a manual? Which one? Did you find the manual you used helpful?

I prepared for the SAT using the website Sparknotes. It has a great section of review information and practice tests for all portions of the test. It was immensely helpful for the SAT I and the two SAT II’s (Physics and Math 2) that I took.

Did you take a SAT prep course? If not, would you had taken one had you known it is available online?

I did not take a SAT prep course but one over the Internet would be of interest. I imagine that it would be useful as long as it wasn’t additionally stressful; junior year is already rather taxing for most people.

How did you prepare for the SAT the night before?

The night before the SAT I thought about cram studying but by then I realized that it would be pointless. I spent the evening having fun with my dogs and a little gaming and went to bed early.

How did you approach the actual questions? In other words, what test taking strategies did you use?

The main strategy I used was to read through the questions and gauge the approximate amount of time that it would take you to solve it (more useful on the math portions of course). For problems that would be quick (or even in-your-head calculations) I would do them and come back to the longer problems later. This assumes that the time, which is constraining but not impossible, isn’t an issue for you as it wasn’t for me (I’ve always been a fast test taker). On the essay, be sure to spend a few minutes planning and to write for the entire time (i.e., don’t finish early).

What subjects in school are particularly important to doing well on the SAT?

Math and English are the most obvious courses which would be useful with the SAT, but certain easier electives are also important as they relieve stress.

Experts say that learning vocabulary is an important prerequisite to prepare for the test. Having taking the SAT, do you agree? Explain.

Vocabulary is an important part of the reading portion of the SAT, but if you are an avid reader it shouldn’t be an issue. If you are not, you may want to consider a study-book or course for vocabulary or the SAT in general.

What section of the SAT seemed the hardest?

The hardest part of the SAT was the essay. Twenty five minutes is nowhere near enough time to compose an essay on anything. This is also the first section, so I would recommend trying your best but not expecting it to be perfect.

If you were take the SAT again, what would you do differently?

I would have brought food during the breaks. The test is rather long, and I was famished by the time it ended.

In thirty words, or less, what advice would you give students who are preparing to take the SAT?

You know that you are amazing, so show it to the world. Study, sleep, eat, but above all, don’t panic.

Jacobi Vaughn is a senior at Sault Area High School, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. He is second in his class academically (he got an A- in art, or he’d be tied for first!). He plans to attend the University of Michigan next year and major in physics. His hobbies include reading, writing, video games, and philosophical debates.

Although Jocobi aced the SAT without tutoring, students interested in maximizing their scores should consider private SAT tutoring . Eric Anderson tutors the English and reading portions of the SAT for students in New Tampa, Odessa, Carrollwood, and Wesley Chapel, Florida. Contact him at 813.787.8959.

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