Millions of high school students take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) every year, and high scores make a difference in college admissions. But many students come into the SAT unprepared for the expectations of the test. To get the best possible SAT performance, it’s essential to take steps to prepare for the SAT well in advance and familiarize yourself with the nature of the test and what will be required of students.
A variety of options are available for test preparation courses, review topics, and other techniques. It’s important to approach the SAT with a plan and determine exactly what you want to achieve.
The College Board, which administers the SAT, recommends setting a target score for the SAT before preparing to take the test. Students can decide on a target SAT score based on past scores, personal goals, or the standards of the colleges that they are interested in applying to. The College Board’s BigFuture tool can help students research colleges and universities to find out what SAT score ranges are typical of recently admitted freshmen at those schools. With a target score, you can set a goal of raising the scores in math and reading by a certain number of points.
Register in advance
All students who take the SAT will need to register in advance. Picking a date can be an important part of the preparation process, so you have enough time to review and study, and can take it on a day when you are most comfortable. Make sure you have at least 6–8 weeks to prepare for the test.
Perform a Practice Test
The College Board provides eight full-length practice examinations that students can attempt and then grade. Students must complete at least one or two of these examinations to gain a feel for the structure and get more comfortable with it. Completing a full-length practice exam can provide an experience like the actual test that shorter review material cannot provide, as well as a feeling of how long it will take you to complete the test at your speed.
Use official practice resources
Although there are other test preparation programs available, the College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to offer free SAT practice materials. Students who have an account with Khan Academy get access to online practice exams, study guides, and video sessions. Additionally, they can receive feedback on their weaknesses and a customized strategy for organizing their study and practice sessions. On the SAT, students who used these tools for 20 hours had an average SAT score previously that was 115 points better.
Veritas Prep and Kaplan are two other complimentary options.
Identify SAT Skills
Rather than just completing entire practice exams that cover areas where they are more comfortable, it is crucial to concentrate on these areas and the abilities related to them if students can pick certain areas as objectives for their test preparation. Instead of studying, for example, SAT questions, practicing and acquiring SAT abilities can help students handle issues of their kind even when the subject matter is new. There are 28 writing and reading skills and 41 math skills on the SAT.
Skills such as reading comprehension and understanding sentence structure are useful areas of preparation in the Reading & Writing sections, while knowledge of equations, fractions, and geometry are important math skills. It’s possible to research which skills are represented more commonly in questions, so you don’t focus on skills that are only tested rarely, even if you struggle more with those skills.
Follow your schedule
Plan out how you use review materials and practice tests in the time leading up to the SAT date so the SAT strategies and skills are fresh in your head. The official free SAT resources also let you create a schedule for practice time based on when you have time to study before the test.
Build your Confidence
Ensure that you are well-prepared for the day of the test and go in comfort and confidence that you will be able to face the challenges of the test and complete it with time to spare for review and double-checking tough questions.
Retake the Test
The SAT has several exam dates available throughout the year. Seniors and juniors should be ready to retake the exam if they aren’t happy with their results. So that you don’t feel that your SAT score is the only thing that matters, schedule a second test date into your schedule. By following these instructions, you’ll be better geared up to take the SAT with confidence and get a higher score than you had anticipated.