SAT Test Prep - Top Ten Study Tips

SAT study tipsAchieving a top score on your SATs is crucial if you want to get into the college of your choice.  Unfortunately, the SAT can be extremely difficult to master if you are not prepared for it.  The difference between achieving an average score versus an exceptional score often comes down to preparation - knowing what and how to study. Follow these top study tips to improve your score on the SAT Test.

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Study Smart for the SAT Test

How you prepare is more important than how much time you spend.  The keys to efficient SAT Test prep are:

    * Utilize a flexible study schedule
    * Understand the test format
    * Concentrate on the areas that you are the weakest on
    * Study and prepare when you are the most alert

Prep means practice

Studies have shown that preparing for the SAT by taking sample questions is one of the most effective study methods available.  For the best use of practice quizzes, consider using some of the following approaches:

  • Make sure you understand any questions you missed by reading the answer rationales
  • Time your exams so that you get used to the pace that the SAT requires
  • Utilize's directory of free SAT practice tests to prepare.

USE A recommended Study Guide

You can focus your study for the SAT by using the right study guide. A good study guide helps you pinpoint your weak areas, gives you good study tips, and provides ample practice questions.  The best study guides also help you by improving your problem solving abilities. recommends the following study guides for the SAT exam:

Keep Time on Your Side

It is important to keep an appropriate pace going to finish your SAT Test, even though the time limits on the SAT Test should allow you to finish your exam.  Determine a “time budget” for each question.  For example, if you have 50 minutes to answer 25 questions, then you have about two minutes per question.  After every few questions, check the time to see if you are still on schedule. Skip questions you don’t know – don’t dwell on them.  Conversely, don’t rush questions that you think you know – read them twice and pick the best answer.  Careless mistakes are often what separate an exceptional score from a medicore score.

Carefully Read the Full Question and All the Answers

Before looking at the answer choices, read each question two times.  Before you select your answer, read each answer choice two times.  You risk falling into traps if you read the question too quickly.  The same goes for answers.  Don’t miss the question because you misread some of the terms.   You should also be careful not to read too much into the question.  Questions are typically straight forward and don’t require a “leap of faith” to answer correctly.  Common sense answers are often more correct than theoretical questions derived from over-reading the question.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions

Some questions on your SAT Test require careful analysis.  At a casual glance, some of the wrong answers may appear to be the right answer.  A common trap that test writers employ is to put misleading answers first to tempt you to choose them – don’t be tempted by this trap!  Also, there may even appear to be more than one right answer.  If this is the case, make sure to choose the best answer based on what is in the question (not based on your assumptions).

Your First Answer is Usually Right

Select your best answer after you have read the question carefully (twice!) and all of the answers carefully (twice!).  Trust yourself!  If you have time left over to review your SAT Test – don’t change any answers unless you find an obvious error that you are sure about.  Your first answer is usually the right answer.

Go With What You Know

You should answer questions that you know first, and skip the ones that you are unsure of.  Do not dwell on any one question – answer all the questions that you are sure of first. If you are in doubt about an answer, mark the question, skip it, and go to the next one.  When you are finished answering all of the questions that you know, then go back and look at your skipped questions.  Sometimes the other questions in the exam will provide you some clues on how to answer some of your skipped questions that you were unsure of.

Have an Answer for Everything You Know

The SAT Test DOES penalize you for guessing.  You should make sure that you answer every question that you are reasonably sure of.  If you have to guess, you can probably eliminate 1 or 2 answer choices immediately.  Of the remaining choices pick the answer that you feel the best about – and move on.

Know the Tricks

Knowing how to handle the following tricks will increase your score:

  • Absolute No No’s – Answers with absolutes such as always, never, greatest, must are generally not the correct answers
  • Beware the “except” – Questions with “except” (or “which of the following is NOT true”) are often read too fast and missed.  A good way to answer these questions is to cover the word except or not and then choose the answer that does not belong.
  • Valid information – All of the information in the question is probably there for a reason.  Don’t ignore anything in the question – you will need it to correctly answer the question.

It’s All in the Attitude

Your attitude when it comes to preparing and acing your SAT Test is the most important factor that you can control.  You need to be positive and have confidence.  You need to believe that you will score high on your exam.  While you are taking your exam, you need to have confidence and relax.  If you come across an answer that frustrates you – just skip it and come back to it later.  DO NOT PANIC!  If you have studied with the resources on this website – YOU WILL SCORE HIGH!

To help you prepare, try these Free SAT Practice Tests