How to Study for the SAT

This guide has been written specifically to show students how to study for the SAT. We’ve pulled no punches, offering a SAT study guide and detailed tips that help you ace this exam. One of the greatest challenges faced by students who take the SAT is figuring out exactly how to study for the SAT. 

With that said, there’s no one-size-fits-all method that will guarantee success but there are ways to improve a student’s chances of scoring higher. In fact, efficient studying will boost a student’s score. One of the most important first steps is to set a goal. What do you expect to score on the SAT? How do you plan to achieve that score? 

Summary: Use our SAT study guide to figure out how to study for the SAT.

How to Study for the SAT

Create a study plan before you start any actual studying. The main thing is that you continuously evaluate your progress as you move forward with your studies. That’s why practice tests are so valuable. Here are three essential parts that you must include in your study plan. 

  • Set a score goal. This will determine how many hours per week you spend on studies. A higher score will require more study hours. 
  • Weekly practice tests. Evaluating your progress shows you how to dedicate your study resources. 
  • Schedule. Your time is precious so make sure that your study sessions are always distraction-free so you study efficiently.

You can use our free SAT practice tests to prepare for your exam. They include answer explanations and automatic scoring.

SAT Study Guide

The SAT study guide listed below was designed to help you create a plan to prepare for the SAT. Our team has broken down the study guide into 4 weeks of studying. You will find there are different topics and sections that we focus on each week. 

An important part of figuring out how to study for the SAT includes taking practice exams. Practice exams help students get a baseline and figure out which subjects they need the most work on. If you are looking for something more in-depth, you should consider one of the best SAT prep courses

How to Study for the SAT

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How to Study for the SAT: Week 1

The first week of SAT studies is about setting all of your goals and determining your baseline score. This will tell you how to direct your studies.

Start off by taking an SAT practice test. Try to simulate the actual testing environment but don’t worry about timing it yet. Just work at a steady pace for now. The goal is to find your baseline score so don’t worry if you struggle with this practice test.

Wait a day and then review the results. Don’t just look at the score either. Dig deep into the results. The goal is to familiarize yourself with your own strengths and weaknesses. Here’s an easy-to-follow breakdown to review your practice test:

  • Start by diving deeper into the questions you got wrong. Practice tests will provide feedback on incorrect answers so take time to review them. Was it a simple mistake or something you need to study harder? Flag questions that require a deeper review. 
  • Take note of your practice test score. This will be the base score that you’ll improve throughout your studies. 
  • Make a note of your strongest areas and your weakest areas.

It’s also important to review the questions that you get correct. Read all of the feedback from the practice test to see if there might be a more efficient way to get the answer. Since the SAT is a standardized test, reviewing right answers is beneficial.

It’s also important to review the questions that you get correct. Read all of the feedback from the practice test to see if there might be a more efficient way to get the answer. A simple thing like this can help save you time on the actual exam.

The majority of your first week will be spent planning and setting up your study plan.

How to Study for the SAT: Week 2

Start your second week by reviewing the fundamental concepts that you struggled with during the practice test. Prioritize your weaknesses first. Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint. The following is an example of how your studies might look like but the actual topics will depend on the results of your practice test.

  • Math Section of the SAT Exam
    • Linear Equations and Inequalities
    • Systems of Inequalities
    • Systems of Equations
  • Evidence-Based Reading Section of the SAT Exam
    • Detailed Questions
    • Inference Questions
    • Command of Evidence-Based Questions
  • Writing Section of the SAT Exam
    • Writing Organization
    • Writing Development

Take a SAT Practice Test

At the end of week 2, take another SAT practice test. Dedicate the last day of this week to taking and reviewing the results of the practice test. There is no need to time the practice exam this week either. Just simulate the testing environment as much as possible and develop your testing stamina by doing it in a single sitting.

How to Study for the SAT: Week 3

Based on the results of your second practice test, all of the topics that you studied in week 2 should have improved. If there were any that did not improve, then dedicate a few hours this week on those topics.

You will also be practicing essay writing this week to be sure that you’re ready for this important section of the SAT. This is only applicable if you are taking the essay section, since it’s optional.

  • Math Section of the SAT Exam
    • Ratios
    • Rates
    • Proportions
    • Percentages
    • Scatterpoints
    • Tables
    • Statistics
    • Radicals
    • Polynomials
    • Rational Equations
    • Rational Expressions
  • Evidence-Based Reading Section of the SAT Exam
    • Connections in Vocabulary
    • Vocabulary-in-Context and Rhetoric
  • Writing Section of the SAT Exam
    • Organization
    • Development
    • Effective Use of Language

Take a SAT Practice Test

This week, you will time your SAT practice test to put more pressure on yourself to develop the stamina for the real thing. Everything will be the same as previous weeks. You’ll still take note of your score and then dedicate a day to reviewing the results.

By this point, you should be closer to your target score.

How to Study for the SAT: Week 4

This will be your final week of studies so make the most of it. Spend the first two days brushing up on areas where you struggled on the SAT practice test. Then spend the remaining time reviewing all of your strongest areas.

In a testing environment, your strengths are going to carry you further than your weaknesses. One mistake that students make is they spend so much time on their weaknesses that they do not review strong subjects. So they end up making silly mistakes on the test.

  • Math Section of the SAT Exam
    • Quadratic Equations
    • Geometry
    • Imaginary Numbers
    • Trigonometry
    • Functions
  • Evidence-Based Reading Section of the SAT Exam
    • Synthesis Questions
  • Writing Section of the SAT Exam
    • Proper Sentence Structure
    • Correct Word Use
    • Correct Punctuation Use

Take a SAT Practice Test

Take your final SAT practice test. Simulate the testing environment as closely as possible. Use this time to prepare for the actual test. Don’t hold anything back. Set strict time limits. Find a quiet location and pretend that you are at the actual testing center.

Review the results in detail. Spend the final days leading up to the SAT reviewing this practice test in great detail.

Invest in a SAT Prep Course

Efficient studying is the most important part of preparing for the SAT. One of the most efficient method is to invest in SAT prep courses. Investing in a course helps to ensure that you have access to all of the right information to ace this very important exam.

A prep course will include lectures, practice tests, flashcards, and important strategies to get a top score. One of the biggest benefits to investing in a prep course includes the amount of time you will save when studying. All of the information will be presented in front of you - you will not have to go digging for additional information. 

Follow These Proven SAT Testing Strategies

First of all, never cram the night before the SAT. Use the night prior to the exam to refresh on a few nuggets of information but above all else, make sure you get plenty of rest. Resting before an important exam ensures that you come into the test center with a clear mind. 

Keeping that in mind, follow these test-day strategies to ensure that you perform at a high level. 

Read all Directions Carefully

Always read all directions carefully before starting the SAT. One mistake that students tend to make is they wait until they are taking the test to read the directions. This inefficient approach eats away at your actual testing time. By reading all of the directions before the exam starts, you will be able to use the time to answer questions. 

Skip Answers you Don’t Know and Come Back to Them

If you don’t know the answer to a question, skip it and move on. Come back to those questions later. If you are still unsure of the answer, use the process of elimination to make your best guess. You can usually eliminate one or two wrong answers. 

Pace Yourself

Since this test has a strict time limit, you must use your time efficiently. Only spend a few moments on a question before moving on. It’s easy to lose track of time so be sure that you are working forward at a steady pace. Then use the remaining time at the end to answer more difficult questions. 

Final Thoughts

Learning how to study for the SAT is about efficiency above all else. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you will be able to approach this important test with confidence. 

It is highly recommend that you invest in an SAT prep course. It will ensure that you are properly prepared and guarantees a higher score! You can view a complete list of the best SAT prep courses to see which option will work best for you. 

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