Turning SAT prep into a game is a winning strategy that works for many students. Below we’ll talk about how gameplay can improve your score (in less than 2 months).
Want to skip straight to a ready-made (and fun!) SAT prep game? Check out Everydae. It combines all of the principles we’ve listed below, including leaderboards, real-world gift card rewards and 10-minute microlessons to make studying for the SAT fun.
How to create your own fun SAT game that will increase your score (in 5 steps)
- Understand your SAT weak spots
- Create the rules of the game (goals, real-world rewards and penalties)
- Set a system for gameplay (make a habit-stack)
- Invite (or tell) a friend
- Take regular SAT practice tests
Step 1: Understand your SAT weak spots
Before any gameplay, you’ll need to know what you’re striving for. After all, there’s no point in creating SAT math games, if your weak spot is SAT Reading or the Writing and Language sections of the test. (If it’s the latter, you’ll probably want to include an SAT vocabulary game as well.)
So, before you do anything else: book a free online mock test so you can get a strengths and weaknesses report. Practice tests run every week so just find a time that works for you. (If you’re a teacher or administrator, you can also contact us to book a time for a larger group).
Step 2: Create the rules of the game
Now that you know your weak spots, it’s time to create the rules of your game! This means thinking about three things:
- The goals of the game
- Your incentives (rewards)
- Your penalties (what are the consequences for not playing!)
Setting the goal of the game is easy:
Research the top colleges you are interested in, and find out the SAT score that you need to get into each one. Once you have 3-5 colleges picked out, choose the college with the highest SAT score as your goal. For example, if you want to get into Harvard, your goal in the game will be to score a 1570. If you want to get into Texas A&M, your goal will be a 1390 etc.
(The more you know: Everydae’s gamified SAT Prep uses your goal score to set your study plan. There is also a “Readiness Score” that tracks how likely you are to hit the goal score based on your performance through the game).
Setting your incentives (game rewards):
Rewards are crucial for making a fun SAT Prep game - they help to create an external motivator that keeps you playing for longer. For example, at Everydae, we have a leaderboard where you can win real-world gift cards for earning coins. The more questions you get correct, the more you’ll earn (there are also bonus coins for streaks etc).
For your at-home SAT practice game, you’ll need to decide how you will reward yourself. If you’re a student, you may like to involve your parents here. For example, if you study for 15 minutes every day, will your parent/guardian be willing to give you a reward?
When thinking about rewards, for your SAT game, you’ll want to think about micro-achievements and macro-achievements.
Here are a few examples:
- Get a 100 point score increase (macro achievement)
- Hit my goal score on a practice test (macro achievement)
- Study SAT vocabulary 5 days a week for 20 minutes each session (micro achievement)
- Read for 15 minutes each night before bed to improve SAT vocab (micro achievement)
Once you have written down your goals, attach your reward! These can be external (e.g., extra time doing something you love) or internal (e.g., being kind to yourself and feeling self-accomplishment about achieving what you set out to do).
Setting your penalties (the consequences):
Setting a penalty for not participating in your SAT prep game is just as important as setting a reward. After all, without a penalty it’s simply too easy to do nothing and not play at all! Ultimately, the real penalty is that you won’t get into the college that you were hoping to get into. But if this doesn’t feel concrete enough, you may want to consider imposing a more personal consequence (e.g., losing your allowance).
You’ll also want to tell someone else about the penalty you have created for your SAT game. Try telling a friend or a parent what will happen if you don’t study for the SAT. Perhaps this is missing out on an experience or event that you were hoping to attend. Or minimizing your time doing something outside of study that you enjoy (playing games, chatting with friends etc).
One of the most important things that successful people do in life is develop a sense of self-responsibility. By setting a consequence and making it public, you are learning a valuable skill that will not only help you with the SAT, but will help you in life as well!
Step 3: Set a system for SAT game play
Woohoo! You’ve made it this far! (If it all seems too hard, check out our ready-made SAT Prep Game here).
You know your SAT weaknesses and you’ve set the rules of the game (goals, rewards and penalties). Now it’s time to set a system for gameplay. In other words, if you were explaining your SAT game to a friend, how would you describe the rules for participating in the game?
All of this depends on how long you have until your SAT exam:
How to study for the SAT in 6 months:
If you have 6 months or more until the SAT, your study rule should be: 10 minutes a day with a practice test every 2 months (and 10 days before your exam).
How to study for the SAT in 3 months:
If you have 3 months until the SAT, your study rule should be: 15 minutes a day with a practice test every 2 months (and 10 days before your exam).
How to study for the SAT in 2 months:
If you have 3 months until the SAT, your study rule should be: 20 - 25 minutes a day with a practice test every 2 months (and 10 days before your exam).
How to study for the SAT in 1 month:
If you have less than 30 days until the SAT, you should read this first. From there, your study rule should be: 30-45 minutes a day with a practice test when you start studying and then 10 days before your exam.
You’ve created the rules of the game, but how do you study?
If you’re using Everydae, then it’s easy: we create the study plan for you based on your goals and test date. We also break learning into fun, 10-minute microlessons that are perfect for busy schedules and keep you on track, every day.
But what if you’re using a textbook? If you’re not using Everydae, you’ll want to create a methodical habit of opening the book, deciding what you’re going to concentrate on then reviewing that section of the book and doing practice problems.
Remember: take into account your weak spots and SAT Prep activities as well.
- Weak at numbers? Focus your daily study on your SAT Math Game.
- Weak at reading comprehension? Your gameplay should include more SAT vocab games and nightly reading of books that can improve your vocabulary.
One last hack: Does studying every day for the SAT feel like a chore that you don’t know if you can commit to? Here’s a gameplay hack that will help you stay on track. It’s called a habit stack and it’s all about creating a system to help you stay on track during the game.
Step 4: Invite a friend into your SAT prep game
Ah, accountability. The key thing that often makes the difference for most of us between actually following through on a task, or blowing it off. Studies show that people who have a gym/exercise buddy are much more likely to work out. The same goes for studying for the SAT.
If you know someone who is taking the exam at the same time as you, invite them into the game! If you don’t, then use the methods described above to share your reward and penalty structure with someone else (this boosts accountability as well).
Step 5: Take regular practice tests (how to know if you’re winning the game)
If you study with Everydae’s SAT Prep game, you’ll have a Readiness Score that will tell you how close you are to achieving your goal. We also have “checkpoint challenges” and “Mixed Reviews” that test your knowledge gain along the way. Finally we create a practice test schedule for you with a free strengths and weakness report so you can monitor your progress.
If you are doing this at home, you’ll want to set your practice tests in advance (go here to book them). Practice tests are the only true way to know if your SAT prep game is actually working!
Final tips on turning SAT prep into a fun game:
- Playing your SAT prep game every day is important, even if it’s just a small thing you do each day, it will add up to a big improvement in a short amount of time.
- Make sure you tell people about your goals, your rewards (and your penalties). This increases accountability and the likelihood that you’ll become a loyal player in your own SAT game.
- Having trouble staying motivated? Try the habit-stack hack to get yourself back on track and keep you in the game.
- Book your free practice tests here. Studies have shown that getting a top score on the SAT is a combination of knowing the material, but also having practiced taking a 3.5 hour exam. If you are taking the exam during Covid, we also recommend that you wear a mask while doing the mock test (it is likely you’ll need to do this on test day).
Everydae applies the latest advancements in learning science and gamification to optimize student engagement and knowledge gains. Our 10-minute microlessons are perfect for busy schedules. We also use text message study reminders, leaderboards and streaks to keep all high school students motivated to learn.
We also know how important it is for parents to gauge progress and their child’s speed of improvement when studying for the SAT. Our parent dashboard provides a quick overview of how your child is doing and how often they have been studying. Meanwhile, text-messages and emails keep parents informed and provide additional tips about getting a top score on the SAT, developing healthy study habits, and more.
But it’s not just SAT or ACT prep we care about. Our goal is to help all high school students reach their full potential in any subject. That’s why we offer a variety of online courses. From ‘freshman fundamentals’ (e.g., Algebra) to Advanced Placement classes (e.g., AP US History); social, emotional and career-ready skills (e.g, Managing Money and Developing Self Agency) and everything in between. We are a daily online learning system that we hope can be your fun, digital assistant no matter which grade of high school you are in.
Learn more at: https://www.everydae.com