When it comes to college admissions, few steps can drive more fear into the hearts of students than the looming threat of the SAT. This aptitude test was designed to give colleges a standardized understanding of how well you will perform at their institution. Preparing for the exam, therefore, has become an important part of the college admissions process. 

If you want to learn more about how to prepare for this important exam, we have created a basic schedule that can help you feel ready to achieve your best possible score.

Step 1: Selecting your exam date

The SAT will be offered on a number of days throughout the year, and you want to select the one that works best for you. Although the deadline to register will likely be a month to six weeks before the test day, you will want to register further in advance. This will give you enough time to prepare and ensure that you get a seat at your desired testing site on the right day.

Select a day that will not conflict with other commitments. For example, if you know you will be traveling for spring break, a test day a week after you return might not be the best time. If you take AP exams, make sure to space the test out enough that you will have time to prepare.

If you take the exam senior year, also consider when the scores have to be submitted to your desired colleges, as that will impact your testing day as well.

Step 2: Creating your test prep schedule

When it comes to studying for the exam, you have a wide variety of resources at your fingertips. You can find practice questions and tests that come officially from the CollegeBoard here, which can help you jump start your preparations.

Many students find it helpful to begin their studies by taking a practice test to see where they score and where their weakest points lie. They then begin their study schedule to bring up that score.

There are a number of resources you can use to study, including books published by the Princeton Review. These books help students better understand the questions and strategies they can use to boost their scores.

You will want to start studying two to three months in advance of the actual test date. Plan on spending an hour or two a day reviewing your math, reading and writing skills to improve your score.

Step 3: What to do the week of the test

As you now approach the final week before the test, you want to finish up your study schedule and focus on keeping yourself healthy and focused. This is not the time for late nights out with friends or for pulling all-nighters for any reason. Get good night sleeps. Take one last practice test at the very beginning of the last week to give yourself a few things to review during this final week.

Step 4: What do to the night before and the day of the test

Now you need to trust in all your hard work over the past few months. Allow your brain some time to rest to reduce your stress level. Get everything you need for the exam the night before so that you do not feel rushed the following morning. Make sure you go to bed early the night before the test and set more than one alarm to make sure you get up with plenty of time to make it to the test site on time. Eat a healthy, full breakfast that will keep you focused and full throughout the exam. 

Following the test, relax and celebrate. You did it!