Your SAT score is important. Even though you don’t need to get a perfect 1600, colleges are still going to look at your score and compare it to that of your peers.
According to the College Board’s 2019 data, the average SAT score is 1059. That means if you can study hard and achieve a score of at least 1210 or 1340, that means you’ll rank in the top 75 and 90th percentiles!
So how can you prepare yourself to get the best possible score? Here are some of the best ways to study for the SAT that are sure to help you reach your utmost potential.
Start Studying Early and Regularly For The SAT
As reported by the site PrepScholar, the recommended baseline for SAT prep is approximately 40 hours. If you can allocate even more time than this, then it will only help improve your odds of getting a higher score.
The SAT is not a test that you can cram for. There’s a TON of information it can cover. And as they say: The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. That’s why its recommended that you should instead study for the SAT every day over the course of a few months. Carve out a block of time after your regular schoolwork and family time, even if its just 30 to 60 minutes per session.
A good way to do this is to order an SAT study guide and start working your way through the material little by little. Or if you prefer, you could check out a guide from the library.
Sign-Up For Boot Camp
If you really want to take your SAT studying up a notch, then consider signing up for an SAT prep course or boot camp. Most high schools or community centers will usually offer some version of these types of prep courses periodically throughout the year, or you can take one online.
In addition to reviewing material that you’re likely to find on the SAT, prep classes are also useful in helping you understand what to expect when you finally go to take the test. This can be especially valuable if it's your first time taking the SAT.
If your area doesn’t offer any physical SAT prep camps, don’t worry. You can always go online and find dozens of reputable prep courses. Most will cost a fee to enroll in, or you could take this free one from Khan Academy.
Take Practice Tests
Without a doubt, one part of your SAT study sessions should be to take practice tests.
Even though they will require a bigger time investment than the 30 to 60 minutes we mentioned earlier, taking the practice tests will reveal some valuable information.
- It will show you exactly what the real test is going to be like. This way, you’ll know what kind of questions to expect.
- If you time yourself, then you’ll learn how to be more efficient and not get stuck on any single question or section.
- Based on your results, you’ll easily be able to see which areas of the test you scored the weakest and should focus your efforts on.
A good recommendation would be to take at least one fully-timed practice test toward the beginning of preparations, followed by one near the end to see how much you’ve improved. You can take SAT practice tests online for free at sites like College Board.
Exercise Your Reading And Grammar Skills
According to online college prep service Elite Education Institue, the number one way to raise your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score is to actively practice reading formal, sophisticated non-fiction on a daily basis.
Why do they recommend this? Because the reading section of the SAT will be made up of five passages, and at least four of them will be nonfiction material. In addition to understanding the purpose and meaning of various parts within the passage, you’ll also be asked questions about vocabulary and grammar.
That means you need to switch out of how you normally talk or text with your friends and instead sharpen your recognition of proper English. By practicing each day reading from reputable publications, you’ll be challenging yourself to read quickly, understand the vocabulary, and comprehend the material. You can get started by going to popular news sites like CNN, Business Week, ABC News, The Washington Post, etc.
Practice Your Math
Even though you can use a calculator for half of the SAT Math section, you’ll gain a ton of efficiency if you can do some of the math in your head such as basic arithmetic. Practice your math skills with an online math course, or just do a refresher with paper and pencil. The more your practice the more you'll absorb and be able to do without a calculator.
Sometimes just recognizing shortcuts can be useful too. For example, there is almost always at least one question about solving the missing side of a triangle using the Pythagorean Theorem. Knowing ahead of time that a basic right triangle with sides a = 3 and b = 4 has a hypotenuse of c = 5, you might recognize this style of problem right away and be able to solve it quickly without using any math at all.
One Of The Best Ways To Study For The SAT: Find A Study Buddy
No one ever said you have to take on the SAT alone. If you’ve got a friend who is just as equally serious about doing well on the exam as you are, then you join forces by quizzing one another and attending boot camp together. Plus, a little friendly competition to see who gets the better test score wouldn’t be too bad either.
Hire A Tutor If Necessary For The SAT
If you find that you’re truly struggling with one or more sections of the SAT, and you’re not seeing any progress with the prep books and boot camps, then perhaps what you need is to work with a tutor.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with hiring a private tutor. In fact, wealthy families have paid as much as $1,250 per hour to hire tutors to help their children get ahead. Regardless, sometimes you just need that one on one interaction and guidance to truly understand the material more deeply. If nothing else, a good tutor can be an excellent coach and motivator who will encourage you to fulfill your obligations to your studies and stay on task.
Prepare For Success The Night Before
It’s the big night before the test. Tomorrow, you’re going to show them what you’ve got. What's the best way you can prepare for this?
- Eat a healthy dinner and snack the night before. Avoid anything greasy that might upset your stomach.
- Don’t study the night before. You’ve done enough already and could use a break.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Rest for at least 7-8 hours.
- Do some moderate exercise in the morning. It will help wake up your brain and get the blood flowing through your body.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Definitely avoid processed sugar.
- Dress in layers for the test. That way if the classroom is too hot or cold, you’ll be able to adjust as needed.
Final Thoughts: Best Ways To Study For The SAT
With this guide, you've learned some of the best ways to study for the SAT. Practice your reading and math skills, study with a friend, and above all else, take a deep breath and relax. If you’ve followed even half of the tips from above, then you’ve got this. Good luck on your SAT!