How to Improve Your SAT Score
While the SAT is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to college applications, it is a big deal. One of the most stressful parts about it? This single test holds a lot of weight. While getting a bad score on the SAT will not end your dreams of attending college, it can limit your options. College admission offices will certainly consider other factors in their admission decisions, such as GPA, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation, but the higher your SAT score is, the higher the chances are of you getting into the best competitive colleges and qualifying for scholarship opportunities.
If you have already taken the SAT and did not feel satisfied with your score – don’t stress. There’s a reason so many people opt to take the SAT more than once, and it’s because there’s always room for improvement. In fact, the College Board found that 63% of students in the class of 2018 increased their score by taking the SAT a second time. If you are looking for SAT strategies for your second or third SAT attempt, here are some tried and true ways to increase your score.
About the SAT
If you are new to the SAT, here is some basic information about the test below.
What are the SATs?
The SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper, standardized test that is widely used for college admissions in the United States. Created by the College Board, the test is meant to measure a high school student’s readiness for college-level courses, and provide colleges with a common data point that can be used to compare all applicants. Each section of the SAT is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale, and the highest possible score you can get is 1600.
How long is the SAT test?
The SAT takes 3 hours to complete. There are two SAT sections, which are composed of Math, and Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing. There is also an optional essay section at the end, which adds an additional 50 minutes to the test.
How much is the SAT test?
The SAT costs $46. However, if you choose to take the essay it will cost $60.
Tips to Improve Your Score
Create a Study Schedule
One of the most important factors to keep in mind when preparing for the dreaded SATs is to not cram. Leaving everything to the last minute, or studying the night before the exam, will not benefit you on the day of the test. It’s best to spread out your SAT studying so all the learned information has time to sink in. On top of your extracurriculars and regular school work, it can be hard to carve out time to study for yet another test. However, try and devote time every week to study for the SATs. If you can’t get to it every day — that’s okay! But once you create a schedule, stick to it, and you won’t regret it.
In terms of the night before the test? If you have time, look over your notes and review some challenging topics. But most importantly, prioritize getting a good night’s rest, eating well, and relaxing, so you are your best self the day of the test.
Take Advantage of Study Materials
Aside from SAT tutoring, there are many materials out there that you can use to self-study. First and foremost, there is certainly no shortage of entire books dedicated to SAT prep. In fact, some bookstores have whole sections that are entirely devoted to test prep for the SAT and ACT. These books are filled with tips, practice questions, test examples, essay prompts, and more. If you don’t want to purchase multiple books, consider checking out your school library. Even if you can’t write directly in these textbooks, you can use the test and essay questions for practicing.
Additionally, there are numerous free resources available online for you to capitalize upon. Just make sure that you are on the lookout for high-quality materials; there are many self-published guides that are created by students, who most likely only have a little more experience than you do. For example, if you need a little extra help with math, search for tips on SAT math topics, or on video tutorial sites.
Memorize Vocabulary and Math Formulas
Now that you are taking the test for the second or third time, memorizing SAT vocabulary and math formulas can go a long way. While you may have SAT strategies and tactics down pat at this point, ingraining particular words and equations into your brain is another way to go the extra mile.
As you certainly know by now, the SAT is big on words, from the critical reading section to the essay portion. Therefore, it’s important to have an extensive lexicon going into the test. Looking up previous SATs, writing down unfamiliar words, and creating notecards are great strategies for nailing the reading section. It’s extremely common for the SAT to recycle words, so there’s always a chance that words that show up on your practice tests will show up on the real exam. Even reading more books can help improve your vocabulary. If you want to take things up a notch, try summarizing passages or chapters in the books you are reading, as this is another important skill that the SAT will test you on.
While some math formulas may be provided for you on the SAT, it’s far better to have a solid understanding of these formulas before sitting down for your test. Valuable time can be lost trying to understand formulas, which could make the difference on whether you finish a section or not.
Find a Mentor or Tutor
Getting an SAT Tutor is a foolproof way to improve your SAT score. The best part about a tutor? Through one-on-one instruction, a tutor can cater your study sessions towards the areas that you need the most help in. There are even tutors that you can hire in a specific SAT subject. If you want to hone in on math tutoring, or more specifically calculus tutoring, you can find an expert that specializes in that subject.
If you are trying to save money for college, rest assured, there are options out there that can cater to students on a budget. Consider asking a teacher, mentor, or guidance counselor from your school who will most likely be willing to coach you at no cost. Some SAT services also offer pro bono tutoring services or scholarships that you can apply for.
Take Practice Tests
Ever heard of the phrase practice makes perfect? Well, that saying certainly applies to the SATs. While it might feel like you aren’t as naturally gifted at a specific subject, mental rehearsal, hands-on practice, and experimentation can optimize your skill development and help you become a more efficient learner, which is especially important on a time-sensitive test.
The best way to practice for the SATs is to take the test itself. Practice tests can be found in almost all SAT prep books. First, begin by taking untimed practice tests. This will help you identify your weak areas, as well as give you a feel for how the test is structured and what types of questions you can expect to encounter. Then, begin taking practice tests under similar conditions to the real test day. The more familiar you are with the SAT itself, the less thrown off you will be by the test and any distractions that occur while you are taking it.