The MuchSmarter Blog

How Jake used the Power of Repetition to Master SAT Math

Steve Schecter
April 5, 2020

The first time Jake took a practice SAT, he got less than half of the math questions correct.

He needed to raise his SAT Math game in a big way: he intended to apply to highly competitive schools, and so he would need to get 85-90% of his math questions correct to get an SAT score that would help him.  

We adopted a stunningly simple plan to help Jake get where he needed to go.

We picked 10 SAT Math practice tests, and Jake committed that he would practice the math questions in all ten tests until he had mastered every one of them.  

Jake completed the questions from each practice section and we reviewed them. Then he took another crack at each of the questions he missed.  

When we got through all ten SAT practice tests, Jake then began to practice all ten tests again, but this time only practiced the questions that he missed the first time around. And again, after we reviewed them together, he repeated every question he missed. 

Then we took a third trip through the ten SAT practice tests, this time only looking at the questions Jake missed the second time around.  

Each time we went through the body of SAT practice questions, we looked at a smaller number of questions.  In the end, we were only looking at a handful of questions that Jake had missed multiple times. 

By the time he was finished practicing, Jake was able consistently to get 85-90% correct -- a huge improvement from where he started.  

He had practiced some questions only once, others two or three times, and a few questions up to five times. The repetition made the SAT problem types extremely familiar to him. It also drove his mastery of the solution steps to his non-conscious mind, which made his successful performance of those steps automatic

And by the way, he used this exact same approach to prepare for his Precalculus final exam later that year--and he nailed that, too!

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