In this post, we provide the most comprehensive list of SAT study tips and test taking strategies to score well. We’re going to tell you what you need to know to ace any section of the test, whether it’s SAT Math or SAT Reading. If you want to excel on the SAT to help your college application stand out, you’ll love this list. Let’s get started (by the way, if you’d prefer to read our list of ACT tips, you check them out here).
If you are planning to go to college, then you might want to know more about the SAT and how it can make or break your chances of getting admitted in the college or university of your choice.
The SAT is conducted by the College Board as a way of measuring how well high school students will be able to perform in college by testing key skills that will help you succeed in higher education. In that regard, most colleges and universities in the country require incoming freshmen to take the SAT and to submit their test scores together with their application.
Since 2016, the SAT underwent several changes to improve the way the College Board assesses high school students that are planning to apply for college. It still tests the students’ skills in reading, math, and writing but puts more emphasis on higher level reasoning skills and context.
Because of the overhaul, there are now more things and SAT tricks you need to know to get a good score for your college or university of choice. That said, here are all of the SAT tips and strategies you should know for the test:
What We Review
SAT Reading Section Tips to Score an 800
In the SAT Reading section, you only have 65 minutes to complete 52 questions in total. You will be given about five passages, of which at least 10 questions will be based on. The topics of these SAT passages will come from the fields of social studies, science, and history.
Here are the important SAT Reading tips and strategies:
- One of the best ways to study for the SAT is knowing your weaknesses. The two main weaknesses that students have when taking the SAT Reading section are time management and passage comprehension. SAT Reading passages take up a lot of time and there is no guarantee that you will be able to comprehend what you are reading. Take SAT practice tests to know what your weakness is. If you notice that you are weaker at one or the other, work on that during your preparation period.
- Leisure reading is not all that helpful. Some people say that reading a lot of books and articles can be a good way of preparing for SAT Reading because it can improve your reading comprehension. However, that is not entirely true. SAT Reading assesses skills that general leisure reading will not exercise because this test was crafted to be as specific as possible. That said, you might end up wasting a lot of time reading books, articles, and magazines instead of using it p in more prepare for the test in more specific ways.
- Improve your vocabulary. Truth be told, some students fail to understand questions because they do not know the meaning of words often used in the SAT Reading section. This can include words such as metaphor or contrast. These are not necessarily the heaviest words in the dictionary but not all students know their meaning. But…
- Do not spend too much time on improving your vocabulary. While it might be true that knowing more words can help you improve your SAT Reading score, spending too much time on improving your vocabulary will take away valuable time you could have used to actually prepare for the test. In that said, you do not have to learn a thousand new words.
- Use other words in context. If you happen to still struggle in understanding some words even after improving your vocabulary, use nearby words in context to get a picture of what the confusing word means. Try to understand what the sentence is saying in relation to the other words.
- Break down the difficult words. Similarly, if you do not know a certain word, try breaking it down by removing any prefixes or suffixes so that you will get to the root word. There are times that the root word seems more familiar than the entire word itself.
- Be careful with double negatives. Double negative phrases are often found in SAT Reading questions to confuse you. Instead, if you see a double negative, try changing the phrase into a positive word so that it does not get too confusing when you are looking for the right answer.
- Read the questions before the passage. This is a good way of saving time when you’re taking the SAT because you will most likely go back to the passage over and over again after reading the questions. Instead, read the questions first then read the passage. Doing so also allows you to read only the information and key points that are related to the question.
- Get to the gist of the passage. Alternatively, you can also skim the entire passage and go right to the author’s main thought to understand its One way of doing so is to go to read the introductory statement and then the conclusion of the passage so that you can understand what everything is all about quicker without having to read all of the supporting sentences and paragraphs.
- Get to know the plot. Read the SAT passage with a purpose instead of just reading it leisurely. That means you should understand the plot as soon as you read the introductory statement so that you will have a general idea of what the passage is all about.
- Understand the author’s tone. Understanding the author’s tone is one way of reading with a purpose. Try to know where the author is coming from and what his general message is by putting yourself in his shoes to understand his tone.
- Separate unimportant details from the rest of the SAT passage. This really helps you improve your time management and reading comprehension. If you manage to pinpoint unnecessary details in a paragraph and separate them from the important points, you will be able to read long passages in a short amount of time without sacrificing any vital information. Also, you might want to…
- Read the introduction to the passage. Passages have italicized intros that introduce to you what the passage is all about. While you might not get all of the important key points by doing this, there will be some helpful information you can get out of the passage intro. For example, you might understand the author’s viewpoint in relation to the era in which he wrote the passage if you see from the intro that it was written back during the Civil War.
- Read the entire SAT passage in full in one go. If you find it tedious to read the questions or to skip some parts of the passage first, then try reading it entirely in full detail just once. This works best if you excel at remembering important details in just one go. This strategy is also the most widely used by most students by default.
- Make a general map of the passage. You do not have to outline the entire passage because it takes time. Instead, try making a map of the passage in your head so that you would know where to look at when you refer back to it after reading the questions. That way, you do not have to read the entire passage all over again to find the answer you are looking for. Try not to memorize all of the details because it is just going to take up too much space in your head.
- Notes are helpful but not vital. Some students like taking notes while reading the passage so that they can summarize the general idea conveyed by the author. While notes are indeed helpful, it might take too much of your time because of how you have to invest more effort into writing down things you thought were important while reading.
- You have no choice but to be interested in the passage. The sad truth is that not all of the SAT Reading passages are interesting and engaging. But you should also understand that you have no choice but to feel engaged because the passage is not something you read to pass the time but is something you need to read to get a good SAT score. Try to read as actively as possible to keep yourself engaged in the passage. Be imaginative to try to make things interesting.
- Understand the passage in your own words. There will be some passages that might be a little too difficult for you to understand as they are because of how they are worded and constructed. Instead, try understanding them in your own words first so that you can get a picture of what the passages are saying. In the same way…
- Rephrase the questions in your own words. Similarly, SAT Reading questions might seem like they do not make any sense at all because of how the words are used. You may want to use your own words and rephrase the questions first before you try answering them.
- Base your deductions only on the information given in the passage. Arguably the most important skill to have for SAT Reading is to be able to make the best conclusion based on logic and on the information given. In that sense, your answers should only be based on the points given in the passage while excluding all other answers based on any external factors and on few things found in the passage.
- Find reasons to eliminate wrong answers. As mentioned, SAT Reading has a way of making you feel like two or more choices can be the correct answer. But that is never true. It is up to you to eliminate all three of the wrong answers by finding reasons why they are wrong instead of finding reasons why they can be the correct choices. Remember that every word in the sentence matters as even one single word can change the entire thought of the choice.
- Do not make tiny details seem huge. This is the general idea of what cherrypicking is. When you cherrypick, you look at tiny details in the choices and assume that it is the correct answer just because you saw one or two words that are related to something you read in the passage. But that does not always lead to the correct answer because some choices are actually worded differently compared to the sentences in the passages. For more information on this, you may want to watch this video.
- Just because parts of an SAT answer choice are true, it does not mean that it is the correct answer. This is a common SAT mistake students commit, and one of the keys to master for passing the SAT. Some choices are constructed in a way that fools you into thinking it is the correct answer because one part of it is true. However, you have to take the entire choice as a whole instead of just looking at the half that is true. In a similar way…
- If one part of the choice is false, then it is not the correct answer. SAT Reading choices are sometimes designed to have two parts that correlate to one another. However, if one part is already false, then there is a good reason to believe that the entire choice is wrong. Move on and check the other choices instead.
- Try avoiding finding the perfect answer. Often times, there really is not a perfect answer in the choices given. What you have to do in such cases is to zoom out a little bit and to look at the bigger picture so that you can find answers that actually are not perfect but is as close to perfection as possible.
- The questions need more time than the passage. Instead of spending more of your time reading the passage over and over again, invest more time on the questions because that is where the bulk of your thinking should be placed on. However…
- Do not dwell too long on difficult questions. You might find yourself hitting a roadblock while answering the SAT Reading section. These roadblocks will come in the form of difficult questions that will take up too much of your time if you dwell on them. Rather than stopping your momentum, skip these questions at first and answer them later once you feel like you are ready to take them on again.
- Evidence questions are your friend. One of the best SAT Reading tips you can use in the new format of the SAT is using evidence questions to your advantage. If you have trouble choosing between two choices in a certain passage-reading question and there is an evidence question following it, go to the evidence question. Check the choices in that question and see which among the two choices in the previous question best relate to those choices.
- Come up with your own answers before checking the choices. After reading and understanding the questions, do not check the choices first. What you should do is to try to predict the right answer by coming up with your own. This also allows you to escapes the trickiness of how the choices are worded. If you happen to have come up the right answer, you can simply look for it in the choices instead of relying on what the choices are giving you.
SAT Writing Section Tips to Score an 800
The SAT Writing Section is composed of 44 questions that must be answered in 35 minutes. Similar to SAT Reading, SAT Writing and Language questions will be based on passages. However, the difference is you will be asked to find errors or mistakes and weaknesses in the passages to improve sentence structure, punctuations, and also the usage of certain words.
Here are the SAT tips and test taking strategies you should know to get a high score on the SAT Writing and Language section:
- Master the fundamentals of grammar. This is probably the most important tip you have to take note of when preparing for the SAT Writing and Language. You can brush up on the fundamentals by looking for your basic grammar books at home and reading through the rules. As long as you remember the fundamentals you learned when you were in elementary and middle school, you probably have all the grammar tools you need for the test.
- Know the grammar rules that will be tested. There simply is no escape from this. Not only do you have to know the grammar rules that will be tested but you also have to know how to use them and how they work. What has been mostly tested in SAT Writing and Language since 2016 are punctuation, sentence structure, possessives, idioms, and While most fundamental rules of grammar will be tested, the abovementioned are considered the most important.
- The truth of the matter is that you cannot master the rules of grammar if you do not practice them. In that sense, you will need a ton of practice until the grammar basics become second nature to you. This also cuts the time you need in answering one question or another.
- Use official practice tests or basic grammar workbooks. In relation to the above tip, you can improve your mastery over grammar by practicing using official SAT Writing and Language practice tests. And while these materials might not have been written for the SAT, grammar workbooks are also very useful in helping you get a good grasp of the fundamentals of grammar.
- Pay attention to grammar when reading for leisure. One way of practicing and honing your grammar is by learning from what you read outside of academic learning. You probably spend a few hours of your time reading through news articles, magazines, or novels. Instead of just understanding the story conveyed by those literary pieces, you might also want to pay attention to the grammar to fully understand how they are used from one situation to another.
- Include grammar in your everyday life. You probably won’t be studying the entire time before the SAT. However, you can still improve your chances at a high score in SAT Writing and Language by trying to include grammar in your life as much as possible. When speaking with friends, use proper grammar. When texting or emailing, follow grammatical rules and proper punctuation. Little changes in your life can actually go a long way.
- Try reading a paragraph at a time then answer questions after each paragraph. The general idea here is to try reading one paragraph then do the questions that are related to that paragraph. After that, move on to the next paragraph and then do the questions corresponding to it. That way, you can easily spot grammar issues if you take things a step at a time.
- Read the passage only when you need to. Always reading the entire passage before answering the questions can take up a lot of time because you probably won’t be able to retain everything you read. In such instances, you will eventually find yourself going back to the passage after each question. Instead, try reading only when you need to. For more information on what types of questions you need to read the passage for, check out this video.
- See the correlation between paragraphs. For questions that ask you to order sentences in a paragraph, it might be good to see how one paragraph relates to the other so that you will get a general picture of what the entire passage is trying to tell you.
- Follow the rules of grammar instead of what sounds or looks correct. When choosing answers for a certain question, you might think that one choice or another is the correct one because it “sounds right” for you. But, truth be told, even sentences that sound correct are not necessarily grammatically right. Follow the rules of grammar instead of what you think sounds better.
- Justify why the choices are grammatically wrong. In connection to the previous tip, always look for the grammatical errors in the choices because these choices may sound correct but are actually wrong if you look at the words and the sentence construction piece by piece.
- Choose the more concise When eliminating choices for a certain question, you might come across two or more choices that are actually grammatically correct. In such cases, the more concise choice is the right answer. Apply this strategy only after you have narrowed down your choices.
- Always abide by the rules of parallelism. While some sentences are actually grammatically correct, they do not necessarily follow the rules of parallelism when jumbled together in one paragraph. Paragraphs should always stay consistent, and you should choose answers that are more parallel with the rest of the paragraph.
- When asked to improve a paragraph, read the entire paragraph first. The reason for this is that this helps you understand the general idea conveyed in the paragraph. Also, take note of any errors you encounter along the way so that it will be easier for you to spot the correct choices when answering the questions.
- Fix the sentence without looking at the choices. As you read through the sentence or the paragraph, try to locate errors ahead of time without looking at your choices. This saves time because all you have to do is to match your predicted answer with that of the closest one you can find in the choices.
- If you are stuck, compare the choices. Whenever you encounter a confusing question that has answer choices that all seem correct to you, try comparing them. Look at the minute details and the small differences between one choice and another so that you can see what sets them apart and which among them are the wrong ones.
- After selecting an answer, try re-reading the sentence. Plug in your selected answer to the entire paragraph or sentence to check whether it actually is grammatically correct and consistent with what the passage is trying to say.
SAT Math Section Tips to Score an 800
The SAT Math Section is divided into two parts: with calculator and without calculator. The entire test has 58 questions of which 38 are for with calculator and 20 are for without calculator. All in all, the test has 45 multiple choice questions and 13 grid-in questions. You will be given 80 minutes to finish the exam.
Here are some SAT Math tips and strategies that will help you perform well:
- You need to learn about everything that will come out of the test. This is not the same as SAT Reading and SAT Writing and Language, both of which you can still answer even though you did not prepare very well. Math is a very specific field of study that requires you to know the processes of solving one problem and another. In that sense, you really have to learn about the topics covered by SAT Math instead of just trying to answer the questions without the proper knowledge.
- Brush up on your common math vocabulary. There are certain words and phrases that are only used in mathematical problems. Examples of such words are integer, quotient, exponent, and product. While some of those words might seem basic, it is quite easy to forget what they mean especially when you are answering on the spot. Master those words in time for the SAT.
- Make sure that your calculator is permitted. There are certain calculators that are not allowed in the SAT. Refer to the list of allowable calculators and check whether yours is there. If not, secure an allowable calculator in time for the SAT. We review the best calculators for the SAT in this post.
- Learn how to use your calculator. Knowing and memorizing the different functions found in your calculator can save you a lot of time. Since every calculator works differently, check the manual and practice the different functions found in your calculator. Memorize the steps on how to get to those functions so that you will be able to find these functions quicker on the day of the test.
- Memorize the formulas. You are provided with the list of formulas you will be needing for passing the SAT. However, it takes too much time referencing back to the list of formulas when answering questions. It might be better for you to memorize them instead so that it will be quicker for you to solve the problem. In relation to this…
- Memorize the easier formulas. Memorizing the easier formulas helps save up time because of how you will only be referencing to the list to check the more difficult formulas. However, if you can memorize all of the formulas, then it would be better for you to do so.
- Practice, practice, practice. The thing with math is that practice is the most necessary part of improving your answering speed and of mastering the process. It cannot be understated how important it is to practice answering math questions as repeatedly solving such problems helps improve your critical thinking and processing speed. And, in line with this…
- Take note of your mistakes while practicing. Math is also a field where you can expect to commit a lot of mistakes. And the difficult part about it is that one single mistake can ruin the entire answer. But, instead of moving on and accepting your mistakes, go back and take note of them.
- Know how to improve by learning from your mistakes. Do not be stubborn. If you think you are doing things right but still end up getting wrong answers when answering practice tests, there is certainly something wrong with your process. Learn from those mistakes and fix them instead of just sticking to what you were doing.
- Understanding your mistakes. Simply taking note of your mistakes and learning from them may not be enough. What you need to do is to understand why and how you got the answer right so that you will never commit the same mistake ever again.
- Always probe deeper. When assessing where you went wrong, always go deeper and deeper to the root of it. Ask yourself what specific area did you go wrong. When you get there, go deeper and look for that one small detail you might have missed. Remember that even the smallest mistake in math problems can lead to an entirely different answer.
- Focus practicing on the topics where you often commit mistakes. The final part of improving your mistakes is to relentlessly practice topics related to those mistakes. For example, if you often mess up solving algebra questions, then you need to put more emphasis on that topic to fill in any of the holes you have in time for the SAT.
- Research on certain contents you believe you are deficient at. The general truth is that the content covered by SAT Math tends to be a handful even if you learn all of those in high school. There are certainly contents or topics you are lacking at. In that case, do a quick research on that topic to fill in the holes or gaps as much as you can. You are not expected to know all of the contents by heart but you can make up for any of your weaknesses through research.
- When practicing, do not go to the answer explanation right away. Most students often check the explanation right away after finding out they committed a mistake on a practice question. In your case, avoid doing that. Instead, try answering the problem again and maybe there was a small detail you might have missed in your first try. If you still get the answer wrong, that is when you should check the explanation.
- The questions will be asked from easiest to most difficult. Not a lot of students know this. It is not always followed but the general trend in SAT Math is that the easiest questions come first and it gets more difficult as you progress. In that regard, you do not have to stress out early on. Stay calm and let your nerves and your mind adjust as the questions get more difficult.
- Answer the easy questions as quick as possible. Time is of the essence when answering SAT Math problems because you will eventually see yourself spending minutes on the most difficult questions. Because of that, you should never take too much time answering easy questions. A few seconds on them might suffice.
- Spend the majority of your time answering moderately difficult questions, These type of questions will most likely form the bulk of the problems in the SAT Math section. As such, you should spend most of your time answering these questions instead of investing it on the difficult ones.
- If the choice seems too obvious, it is wrong. When eliminating choices, go for the most obvious one. The easiest choice is to make is often the wrong one.
- Choices that say there is no correct answer in the answer choices are wrong. These types of choices were made for those who are either too lazy to solve or unable to solve for the correct answer. In that regard, this choice becomes an easy answer for them but it is most probably a wrong one.
- Plug in your choices. In questions that ask you to search for missing numbers, try not to waste too much time solving for the answer. Instead, try plugging in the choices in the equation, number set, or problem and check whether it fits. This saves up a lot of time on your part.
- Substitute the letters with numbers for algebra questions. Nobody likes solving math problems using letters. To make algebra easier for you, use numbers. Plug in the numbers in the choices and see which one makes the most sense. That is most probably the correct answer. You can also use random numbers of your choice to make the question easier to understand. Check this video out for more information.
- This is extremely useful when you are looking for the value of certain areas within a shape. Most of the time, you only have to take the area of the entire shape. Then you can estimate the area of the smaller shapes inside and choose the answer closest to your own estimation.
- Your answers should at least make sense. When solving for the answer, check the choices. If the answer you got tends to be too far off compared to the choices, then there must be something wrong with what you are doing. It must at least make enough sense that it relates to the problem or to the choices.
- Try answering the SAT grid-in or free-response questions first. The purpose of doing so is that you cannot estimate or guess the answers to these questions when you are already short on time.
- Visualize the scenario. There will be times when visualizing the scenario helps make answering a problem easier. You can draw your own shapes or pictures or use the ones given in the problem.
- Do not always use the calculator. Using a calculator for all of the questions will eat too much of your time. Instead, try using your head in easier questions because doing so tends to be quicker.
- When solving manually, break down bigger numbers. Everyone knows that multiplying and dividing with bigger numbers is tedious. But you do not have to suffer through that if you try breaking down these numbers into smaller forms. Take a few digits off of them and you can see how easy it is to multiply or divide.
- SAT Math does not need to be more complicated than it should be. There will be questions that might look too complicated for you to answer. In the end, you will only take up too much time trying to use complicated methods to answer what is actually just a simple problem. Do not overcomplicate things and try to relax once in a while so that you do not end up over thinking. In relation to that…
- If there is a simpler method, use it. Some problems can be solved using two or more methods. Of course, one of those methods is simpler than the others. In such a case, do not make life more difficult by choosing the long path. Use the short cut to save time and effort.
SAT Essay Tips to Earn a Perfect Score
The SAT Essay portion is entirely optional. Most students take the essay portion only if their college or university of choice requires it. If your institution of choice does not require it, you do not need to fret about taking it. But, if you are planning to do so, know that you will be asked to write an essay in response to a passage. You have 50 minutes to write the essay.
Here are SAT test tips that will help you excel well in the SAT essay writing portion:
- Practice penmanship. This is probably more important than some students realize. You cannot score well in the essay writing portion if your handwriting cannot even be read. Practice writing legibly and improve your penmanship enough that other people can actually understand it.
- Know how to use basic grammar. You may have studied the rules of grammar for the SAT Writing and Language portion. But it is one thing to know the rules of grammar and another thing to know how to use them. Practice how to use grammar by doing some writing exercises that can help you hone how to apply the rules properly.
- Study passages that have come out in previous essays. Knowing the type of passages that usually come in the SAT essay is one way of getting a rough idea of what kind of topics you can expect. That way, you can already have a general direction of where your writing should go before you even take the SAT.
- Analyze the topic or the passage before you write. It is important for you to get a general idea of what you should write first before you get to the writing portion. The reason for such is that you do not want to write blindly without knowing how to organize your ideas or even put them into words.
- Keep your ideas objective. The test is not asking for your opinion on the subject matter of the passage. As such, try to stay objective with your ideas as much as possible and maintain a formal tone in your writing. This is not creative writing where you can just blurt out opinionated ideas.
- Use simple words and sentences. You are not trying to impress by using your deep arsenal of words or by using complex sentences. Keep things simple by using normal words. Try not to use sentences that are too complex or difficult to understand. As much as possible, the words you use and the sentences you construct should be as simple as possible. In line with that…
- Keep things short and simple. Do not try to use any fluff just to make your sentences or paragraphs long. Try not to repeat ideas or make things more complicated than they should be. Just keep things short and simple by sticking to the main idea of your writing and by using concise sentences to support your thesis.
- Outline your ideas. Before you write, make a general outline of your ideas. The first paragraph should introduce your topic in relation to the passage given to you. After that, make sure that everything that follows should support the main idea. Think of examples that could help promote the thought you introduced in the first paragraph.
- Build up strong on your main idea. After introducing your main idea in a strong way, you should also start supporting it in your body in an even stronger way to get the reader/s to buy into what you are trying to say. Think of it as if you are selling your main idea by using the body paragraphs of your essay.
- Make use of examples. One way of supporting your main idea is by using examples. If you can give your reader/s concrete examples in relation to the topic of your essay, you should be able to sell your idea easier. You can use real-life examples or relevant quotes found in the passage to support your topic.
- Be persuasive with the way you write. As mentioned, what you are trying to do here is to sell your ideas to the one grading your essay. In doing so, you should try to use a persuasive language to get him/her buying into what you are writing.
- Avoid a monotonous style of writing. No matter how good your topic and supporting ideas are, your essay will end up as a bore if you write with a monotonous tone. Instead, try breaking the monotony by transitioning well from one sentence to another and from one paragraph to the next. This helps in making your essay a bit more engaging to read.
- Make your essay as long as possible. There is a direct correlation between essay length and score in the SAT Essay portion. However, you should take note that you should not make your essay long for the sake of just making it look long. Fill it up with as many ideas as possible but not to the point of making it too repetitive or full of fluff.
- Avoid skipping lines when writing. There is only so much space given to you to write your essay. In that regard, try not to skip lines because you might run out of paper. Though you can still ask for more paper, doing so might ruin your momentum and waste your time.
- Do not waste time thinking about the exact term. It is common for writers of any level to get word block in the middle of writing an essay. To avoid wasting time thinking of the exact word or term, just use the closest word you can think of or use a phrase that best describes the definition of the word.
- Keep parallelism and structure in mind. Be consistent with your writing. Make sure that you follow the proper structure of writing an essay. Also, make sure that you have parallelism in mind when writing the essay. In that sense, all of your paragraphs should be consistent with one another.
- Conclude your essay in the strongest of ways. Every part of your essay should be strong. However, the conclusion should be the strongest because you want to put a decisive summary to the points and ideas you introduced in the rest of your essay. The ending paragraph is where you are given a final chance to get your reader to buy into your idea. That is why it should be ended as strong as possible.
General SAT Tips and Tricks
Okay, so at this point we’ve gone over every major section of the SAT. Now it’s time to shift gears and go over tips and tricks you can use for the SAT as a whole while preparing for it and while taking the test itself:
SAT Test Preparation Tips
- Take a breather from time to time. While studying or preparing for the SAT, you need to rest once in a while. Your brain can only take in so much information. You need to take a breather to put your mind and your nerves at ease. You do not want to overwork yourself and overload your brain while studying for the SAT.
- Use official SAT practice tests. There are plenty of practice tests you can use out there but only the official practice tests mimic the actual SAT as much as possible. By using practice tests that are as close to the real thing as possible, you will get a sense of what it is like taking the SAT.
- Answer questions and problems that are difficult. If you can get your hands on questions or practice tests that are challenging or even more difficult than the SAT, the better. You do not want to answer practice questions that are too easy that they cannot build your abilities.
- Know what type of questions will be asked in the SAT. There are plenty of different online resources that will introduce to you the different types of questions most commonly asked in the SAT. Knowing what these are will make it easier for you to focus on the type of questions you are weakest at.
- Take an SAT prep course. There are different courses available for you to take to prepare for the SAT. All of them are designed to help boost your chances of getting the highest scores possible. If you have the money, then it is best for you to go take an SAT prep course.
- Plot your own SAT study schedule. Make an SAT study schedule that you yourself designed depending on your own pace and needs as a student. Every student has a different optimal study schedule. Find your own schedule and plot out your own goals depending on your own pace and on how much time you have left before the SAT.
- Plot your SAT study hours during the times when your brain works best. There are certain times of the day when your brain works at its peak. Take note of when you are at your most mentally productive state. This is usually when you are able to read more efficiently and answer practice questions better. Take advantage of your peak hours and plot your SAT study time accordingly.
- Wherever you are studying for the SAT, make sure you are comfortable. It cannot be understated how important comfort is while studying. The more comfortable you are while preparing for the SAT, the better your brain is at absorbing key concepts and information. A bit of discomfort might distract you. And speaking of distractions…
- Keep away anything that might distract you. When studying for the SAT gets boring, it easier to get distracted. To avoid such, keep away things that will most certainly distract you. This includes your phone, computer, tablet, and television. If none of those gadgets are there to help you study, then there is no point of having them near you.
Tips When Answering Questions During the SAT Test
- Read the directions on the SAT carefully. This cannot be overstated. A lot of students have committed mistakes because they failed to read and understand the directions well. Before you answer a section, make sure you read the directions. Also, knowing the directions before the day of the test can help you save time when taking the SAT. But it still does not hurt if you read the directions.
- Take note of every word on the questions. Missing a word or two can make a difference in how you comprehend the questions. In that regard, it is important to carefully read every word so that you would not miss a single one. That way, you will be able to completely understand what the question is trying to ask.
- Guess the answers. Unlike in the previous versions of the SAT, there is no penalty for every wrong answer. In the new format, a mistake is simply a mistake. That means that you can try to guess the answers as much as possible if you really cannot answer an item. Doing so is better than leaving a question blank.
- When guessing, take common parts from all of the choices. When you have a problem guessing an answer for a question, try to find what is common in the choices. Combine the words that are common in all of the choices and then look which among them are closest to it. That is most probably the best guess. Reminder, the SAT guessing penalty no longer applies in the latest version of the test.
- Mark the key words or phrases in a difficult question. Underlining the most important parts of a challenging question on the SAT can make a big difference in getting your mind in the right direction. It helps you stay focused on what the question is really asking from you because you no longer have to read the less important parts.
- Answer questions based on what you feel are more difficult. With probably the exception of the SAT Math portion, the questions in the rest of the SAT are not necessarily ordered in terms of difficulty. And even if they were, difficulty can sometimes be subjective. In that case, answer what you believe are the more difficult questions so that you can use the remaining time answering the easier ones.
- Remember that all SAT questions have the same weight. Easy or difficult, all of the questions are worth the same. This means that you do not have to rack your brain answering the difficult questions believing that they were worth more than the easier ones. If a question seems too difficult, skip them first to make way for the easier ones.
- Do not look at the choices first. After reading the question, it is natural for you to have an idea of what the answer is. However, your mind might change after seeing some of the choices. Try answering the question first and trust your instinct. If you see your answer in the choices, it has to be the correct one.
- Each question has only one correct answer. All questions in the SAT were crafted with only one answer. Even though some of the Writing and Language questions might have two grammatically correct answers, there is only one answer. For the Writing and Language portion, it might be the most concise. For the other portions, there is certainly only one choice that hits the spot better than the others.
- Know your own pace. It does not matter whether you are answering the questions quickly or a bit slower than others. What matters is your own pacing. Answer the questions quicker than you are used to, and you might miss a lot of important parts. But if you try to take your sweet time, you might not be able to complete the test. Instead, use a steady pace you are used to so long as you can finish the test on time.
- Write inside the SAT test booklet. When answering questions, you can use the test booklet to write anything you believe helps you answer the questions efficiently. You can use it to draw out scenarios for math questions, map out concepts in the Reading portion, or construct sentences in the Writing and Language part.
- Always double check your answers. The reason why you need to finish the sections with a bit of time left on the clock is for you to double check your answers. Though you might not have enough time to check every one of them, it might be better if you only try to revisit the questions you are unsure of. Check your answers to those questions again and see whether you might have gotten something wrong the first time you answered them. Make sure you’ve answered everything too – remember there is no guessing penalty on the new SAT.
- Trust your instincts. Trusting your instincts is important because you do not have enough time to second guess yourself. The moment you come up with a “eureka” moment when answering a question, never try to doubt your instincts and just stick with what you thought of first. But if you must change your answers…
- Change your answers only when you are sure that they are wrong. Though it might not be a good habit to second guess your answers, it is not uncommon for students to suddenly just think of what they believe is the right choice to a question they previously answered. In that sense, only change an answer when you are sure that your first one was correct.
- Bubble the answers last. Avoid bubbling the answers after every question because it will take up a lot of time switching from the test booklet to the answer sheet regularly. Instead, mark your answers on the SAT test booklet before bubbling them in. Bubble the answers after each section so that you can save a lot of time.
Final SAT Tips Before the Test and for Test Day
Now that you have taken note of all of the SAT tips and strategies you can use for the different portions and sections of the test, here are our final SAT test advice straight from the professionals:
- Prepare everything you need for the test the night before. You require more than just yourself and a pencil when you take the SAT. Some of the other important things you need on the day of the test are your admission ticket, photo ID, calculator, and eraser. Make sure you prepare those things the night before so that you won’t end up misplacing them a few hours before the test.
- Make sure that all of your things are fresh. This means that you should only be using fresh pencils and erasers on the day of the test. Also, your calculator should have fresh batteries.
- Plan out how you are going to get to the testing site. Whether you are commuting to the test site or have someone driving you there, it never hurts to try to plan out how you are going to get there because it might be in a place that is quite unfamiliar to you. Checking the routes and avoiding roads with heavy traffic will save you a lot of travel time on the way to the testing site.
- Try to relax the day before the test. The truth is that one more day of studying and cramming for the SAT probably will not make much of a difference as long as you prepared well enough in the past weeks. Instead, try to relax. Do things you enjoy doing such as shopping, playing video games, and watching movies. This helps ease up your nerves a night before the test. But…
- Do not overdo things a night before the test. Enjoying yourself the day before the SAT might be a good idea but do not try to overdo yourself by pulling off an all-nighter binge-watching television series or playing video games. You do not want to end up feeling sluggish while taking the test.
- Sleep well. Sleeping well in the days before the test can help improve your focus and calm your nerves. Always remember to rest because your mind also needs to relax for it to function properly. What we recommend is for you to get at least eight hours of sleep in the last three days before the test. That will help keep your mind and body in a good mood.
- Eat a good meal before the test. Always remember to eat well while studying and preparing for the test because you want your body to be in top shape. Your mind also needs fuel to run on. In line with that, it is much more important for you to remember to eat a hearty meal before leaving for the testing site so that your body stays full and your mind has enough fuel to function well while taking the SAT.
- Go to the bathroom ahead of time. Take one big bathroom break right before the test because you do not want Mother Nature calling in the middle of the SAT. Frequent bathroom trips can ruin your momentum and can make you lose your focus.
- Finally, calm your nerves. It is natural for any student to feel nervous or anxious while taking the SAT. In that case, take a deep breath and calm your nerves first before diving into the test. As long as you have done your preparations well, studied diligently, and took note of our tips for taking the SAT, there should not be anything you should worry about.
Phew! There you have it. 125 SAT tips and strategies to passing and excelling on the test. In this post, we detailed everything from SAT Reading strategies to SAT Math tips. There really is no way to do well on the SAT without studying, so make sure you dedicate at least a few months of diligent work towards this test. Your score will ultimately play a big role in your ability to attend a great university. If you have a tip you’d like to share, shoot us a message.
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