With the burgeoning number of students taking the SAT each year and touted as the most widely used college admission test, the SAT is one of the most competitive examinations in the world. SAT scores can literally make or break your application prospects and a great score can steer the admissions decisions to your advantage.
All these statistics do not make this exam unconquerable. The right blend of determination and hard work along with the use of effective study strategies can help you reach your goal for acing the SAT
In this article, we’ll discuss key points to keep in mind when studying for the SAT, how to ace the SAT, the best SAT prep strategies, and key test-taking tips.
Ace the SAT: The Ideal Score
When we talk about acing the SAT, a score of 1400 and above is considered ideal. A 1400+ score makes you better than 95% of the students taking the SAT, making your application prospects stronger for a majority of colleges, apart from your past academic performances.
However, if your college choices are ambitious, you may need to target a score of 1550 or higher for your SAT score to have a good impact on your application screening. Depending on the college you aim to target, first figure out the target score you need to aim for before beginning to prepare.
If you’re aiming for a score of 1400 or higher on the SAT, the strategies outlined in this article will help you achieve that perfect score you’re aiming for.
What’s the Best Way to Prepare for the SAT?
There are two ways to start preparing for the SAT: SAT tutoring or self-preparation.
While enrolling for an SAT tutoring program ensures a strategic and disciplined approach to time-bound preparation, students can also opt for self-preparation. If you need help with how to prepare for or self-study the SAT, this is a comprehensive guide specially designed for you.
Whichever way you choose, you need to start by assessing your existing skill set and target score. How much you need to improve will determine how much you effort you need to put into your SAT preparation to achieve your target score.
Start by taking the SAT official practice test simulating real testing conditions by writing the test in a distraction-free environment in one sitting. This will help you determine where you’re at and how much you need to improve.
Ace the SAT: Best Ways to Study
The students who end up acing the SAT are ones who do effective and smart work, not hours and hours of cramming concepts. Regardless of whether you have a tutor, you’re doing self-preparation, or you’re taking an SAT prep class, incorporate the following practices into your SAT preparation to achieve that ideal score:
Practise Official Mock Tests
The official mock test questions closely resemble the actual SAT exam, making them the ideal study strategy to go for. The SAT has a unique format and nothing like the exams students take in high school. Regularly practising questions from official mocks will get you accustomed to the question types on the SAT.
Non-official mocks either contain harder or easier than SAT questions and do not give a comprehensive overview of the actual exam. Instead, it is advised to focus on practising official questions. The best study resources are official practice tests provided by the College Board.
Do SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis essentially means assessment of your Strengths, Weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Right after taking a mock test, assess which topics are your strengths and which are your weaknesses. This will help you build a study plan to work out your weaknesses and perfect your strengths.
Try to identify opportunities and threats, opportunities being topics which could be turned into strengths through some systematic study and practise, and threats being the topics you are likely to get wrong. For every practise test, thoroughly review your performance by analysing the questions you got wrong and identify the knowledge gaps. Keep track of all of these questions by noting down about what you need to improve and why got it wrong.
3 major areas of improvement in the SAT are:
- Content: To ace the SAT, you need to be thorough in your conceptual understanding of all topics
- Strategy: Improve your approach or understanding of questions by practising SAT test-taking strategies
- Time: Monitor your time taken per question during your practice to increase your attempt speed
Address each of these aspects during attempting mock tests.
Attempt all Questions
Before March 2016, incorrect answers in the SAT carried negative marking. However, in the newly redesigned SAT, incorrect answers are no longer penalized, hence giving the student the freedom to indulge in some guesswork. After all, there is a 25% chance of getting an answer right and who knows, it may be your lucky day.
Therefore, it is essential to have good time management skills to be able to attempt 100% questions with maximum accuracy. In case you’re running out of time and won’t make it till the end of the section, make random guesses.
Use Elimination Technique
The elimination strategy works best when you are unable to find a clear answer. In Reading and Writing, while options may seem possible, any option with even a small incorrect detail can be immediately eliminated. Similarly, for Math, a sound knowledge of concepts can help you eliminate answer options.
Eliminating wrong answers will help you choose the right answer and increase your chances of getting questions right.
Recheck your answers
Practise good time management skills during your preparation period to be able to leave at least 5 mins at the end of each section, during which you can go back and recheck your answers. This will help you improve your accuracy as well as avoid errors.
Acing the SAT is not a difficult task but requires diligent practice, effort and perseverance on part of the test taker. If you’re unable to form and follow a study plan yourself and need help with study, concept understanding and test-taking strategies, Talentnook helps students find local tutors to help them in SAT tutoring.
To get help on how you can devise an effective summer plan for preparing for the SAT, you may want to read our tips on creating an effective summer SAT plan
If you’re confused about whether to opt for the SAT or ACT, you can go through our guide on SAT vs ACT: How to choose the right test for yourself
To help you take a step further to ace the SAT, Talentnook is currently offering SAT Math Level 2 diagnostic tests to help you assess your Math skills. Register here for a free SAT Math Level 2 Diagnostic Test.