Why You Shouldn’t Set Goals for the SAT

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This tip on improving your SAT score was provided by Veritas Prep.

Most of our students start studying for the SAT with a scoring goal. They may say, “I’d like to get at least a 2,000 or higher on the SAT,” or “I want to improve my critical reading score from a 550 to a 700.” While that’s an obvious target because students often have an idea of what they need to score to be competitive at a college, it’s not necessarily an effective way to actually get the results they want. The main desire for all students when taking the SAT is to get the highest score possible or to improve upon their results, right?

But students should think in terms of devoting themselves to a set plan rather than focusing on their scoring goals. If a student commits to spending 10 hours studying for the SAT or memorizing 50 new vocabulary words each week, would the student see results with their SAT score? Very likely so, right? Here are some ways that creating a plan and committing to it will help you with your SAT studies:

Setting a scoring goal puts pressure on you
If you’re thinking about the score you need and you’re really far off with your first few practice tests, you’re going to start feeling discouraged and pressured to perform. This is counterproductive to your progress because you need to be in a positive state of mind to get good results. Instead, focus on accomplishing what is in your plan, such as completing three practice sections one night or getting through a vocabulary list of 50 words. This step will allow you to remain attentive to the effort you’re putting into the process. With enough effort, you will get the results you want.

Creating and committing to a plan spurs action
Creating a plan allows you to set standards for the effort you’re going to put into your studies and helps keep you accountable. A goal is the end result of your efforts, but it is not particularly effective at making sure you put in the effort necessary to reach your goal. Top salespeople who make a lot of money don’t focusing on their quota—they focus on how many calls they need to make and how many demos or presentations they need to deliver in a month to hit their goals.

A plan is a roadmap to your goals
If your goal is your destination, your plan is the GPS that determines your route there. If you received a 1,600 on the SAT and you desire to hit 2,000, you can break down exactly how many more questions you need to answer correctly on each section to receive that score. On top of that, you can identify which areas you can improve the most in prior to retaking the exam. Then you can set a plan that will help you shore up your weaknesses and fill in gaps of knowledge that are making questions hard for you, which will make you a more effective test taker. Committing and executing this plan will ultimately get you to your goal.

Goal setting is an important part of measuring performance and results, but proper planning is how people reach their goals. Focusing on the plan and commitment when studying for the SAT is going to be the key to achievement. Now break out the planner and assess what kind of plan you need to commit to in order to get the results you want from the SAT!

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