7 Strategies for Making SAT Prep Fun

By Dr. Mary Rooney, Ph.D.

When you have ADHD it’s important to make studying as fun as possible. After all, it is much easier to focus on something that you find interesting, right? With ADHD, knowing how to study for the SAT is half the battle. While nothing can take the place of a structured SAT study program, these fun activities can be great supplements. Since they’re fun and interesting, you’ll be able to stay focused even after you’ve reached your attention span’s limit with your traditional test prep materials.

Make the most of these activities and strategies by reviewing your practice test results. Identify key areas where you need the most improvement, and choose the activities that tap into those areas. Also, consider using motivators. For example, commit to studying your test prep materials for 1 hour, and then reward yourself for time spent on one of the following activities.

    • Play Word Games. Word games can make the task of building your vocabulary less tedious. While there are many websites available that provide vocabulary building games and exercises, maximize your study time by using a tool that is specifically designed for the SAT. Word Dynamo is an excellent app (for iOS and Android) created by Dictionary.com. They have specific SAT prep games, with word matching, crossword puzzles, and digital flashcards. You can track your progress and earn points and badges to help you stay motivated.
    • Memorize Math Concepts with Pinterest. If you are a visual learner, then pictures and images will go a long way in helping you grasp and memorize math concepts. You’ll find thousands of helpful math-related graphics on Pinterest. Print them off, or better yet, copy them by hand into your own sketchpad. In the process of recreating the diagram or image you’ll encode important details into your memory. Just make sure to give yourself a time limit for each diagram so you don’t spend hours focused on only one math concept!
    • Read the New York Times. Students have been told to read the New York Times to improve their vocabulary for just about as along as the SAT has been in existence. While you may be tempted to tune out as soon as you hear “New York Times,” do yourself a favor and check out the 182 Questions to Write or Talk About section designed specifically for high school students. (https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/13/182-questions-to-write-or-talk-about/ ). It contains interesting student opinion questions, like “Is cheating getting worse?” “Do you think a healthier lunch program is a lost cause?” and “Is school designed more for girls than boys?” with responses and opinions from students across the country. Each question is linked to a relevant New York Times article or opinion piece. When the article you are reading is an opinion piece, make notes about the argument the author is building and the techniques they use to strengthen their logic to help yourself prepare for the SAT writing section. You can also add your own responses to the online dialogue as a way to practice your writing skills.    
    • Play SAT Jeopardy. Jeopardy Labs (www.jeopardylabs.com) was created by an undergraduate student at Washington State as a platform to help students and teachers create their own online Jeopardy games. The site contains games created by previous users, like New SAT Math (https://jeopardylabs.com/play/new-sat-math) and SAT writing (https://jeopardylabs.com/play/sat-writing-jeopardy-3). You can play as a single player or you can play with friends for some friendly competition. Since one of the best ways to learn new information is to create materials yourself, consider creating your own Jeopardy games on this site based on practice test questions that you’ve found challenging.
    • Read for Pleasure. Reading is one of the best things you can do to prepare for the SAT. The test itself entails reading long, dense passages that require extended focus and concentration. So, the more reading practice you have the better. In addition, many of the vocabulary words on the SAT can be found in moderately challenging non-fiction books. Pick a non-fiction book on a topic that you find interesting and dive in! As you come across unfamiliar words, look up their meaning online and make an effort to understand how they are used in context.
    • Watch Educational Videos. Give yourself a break from reading by watching educational videos. Review your practice test results and identify a few areas where you need to improve your knowledge. Focus your video search on these topics. Most people will easily be distracted by fun, non-educational videos when they search on YouTube, so stay on task by searching on www.Hippocampus.org instead. This site contains links to an impressive collection of educational videos that cover almost every topic on the SAT.
  • Study with Friends. If you’re an extrovert and find it hard to stay motivated when you study alone, organize a study group with some of your most motivated friends. Use your study group time to play competitive games, like Jeopardy, or practice exercising and reviewing your writing skills. Quiz your friends on vocabulary and math facts using flashcards that you create yourself or find online. Just remember to carve out independent study time as well, especially for information that you need to rehearse and commit to memory.


Preparing for the SAT takes time and commitment, but parts of the process can be fun! Do yourself a favor and don’t wait until you are a couple of months away from the SAT to start some of these activities. Building your SAT reading, writing, and math skills over time will give you a big advantage in the long run.


Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.


Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.

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