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  How to Improve Your S.A.T. Score

How to Improve Your S.A.T. Score

The SAT (Standardized Aptitude Test) is the required standardized test given to high school students for entry into higher education (or college). This test may be the bane of many people's existence, as they may fear the three-hour test for days and even months and years. However, it is not a desperate test. There are several ways to approach the test, and consequently, such ways to improve your score. After all, it will be one of the deciding factors in the increasingly competitive college admissions process. You will need a strong and competitive score for admission into the higher ranked schools. However, it is important to remember that your SAT score is not the only deciding factor in the process. It is simply one of several. The factors at large are generally the following:

  • GPA
  • SAT score
  • ACT score (optional)
  • SAT II (subject tests - optional)
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Essays
  • Letters of Recommendation

Of these numerous components to your application, the SAT is simply one of many. However, it may pose the largest obstacle to your ultimate goal. Consequently, you must focus for hours on that three hour test to get it up to par with the rest of your application.

We have amassed some simple rules that we hope will help you improve your SAT score. While these are not fool-proof, they have been helpful to numerous students in the past.

  1. Take a Practice SAT Test
  2. Take an SAT blind and cold. This means do not study. If you have no foresight going into this test, you will know where you stand without studying. You can get a single, full length SAT from ETS (Educational Testing Services), the company that runs every standardized test from SATs to GMATs. They will have these tests free of charge to download online (via Adobe Acrobat) or to order in the mail or to pick up at any local testing center. The test will also have all the answers and explanations in the back of the packet. Once you have scored this test, you can assess your standing. You should then go through the test — question by question — and try to understand why you answered the correct questions and incorrect question in that way.

  3. Sign up for a Review Course (optional)
  4. Once you know your standing, you may or may not want to take a review/prep course for the test. Many people see the expensive courses as valuable investments in their future. For example, while a course may only cost $1000 now, it could be worth $30,000 in scholarships. However, these tests are not vital to your personal success. Some people see them as simply study guides, while others swear by them. If you are interested in taking a course, we recommend Stanley Kaplan and The Princeton Review.


  1. Set up a private study plan
  2. Now that you have your basic test score, you can set up a study plan (without the review course. If you have chosen a review course, all of the following steps will be given to you in the course of the class.) Give yourself approximately two months prior to the test to make sure you have enough time to understand the test mechanisms, can learn to unwind the testing secrets, and ultimately overcome your weaknesses.

  3. Take an untimed test
  4. Within these two months, you will give yourself two untimed tests, after which you will go through each question and learn the reasons you answered correctly and incorrectly. Then you will go on to the next step. Now that you have studied the books you have purchased, you will take a timed test.

  5. Take a timed test on Saturday morning a month before the test
  6. You have taken an untimed test and studied all answers. Now, you are ready to set up a room in the same testing situation that you will find on the actual SAT. This means, completely timed, quiet, and timely. Set up a room with the same conditions you will face when the real test comes around. Have a parent or friend time you and begin the test at 9am on Saturday morning as to train your body for the real test in a month.

  7. Take a timed test on Saturday morning three weeks before the test
  8. Repeat the same exercise. You should be improving your score now.

  9. Take a timed test on Saturday morning two weeks before the test
  10. Repeat the same exercise. You should be close to your "goal score" by now. Do not fear if you are not, there is still plenty of time to continue studying and practicing.

  11. Do nothing on the Saturday morning one week before the test
  12. The Saturday (and week) prior to the test will be rather stressful. Consequently, we recommend that you do nothing too strenuous regarding the SAT. Too much pressure placed on this week may cause you anxiety. It will be hard, but stay away from those study books.

  13. Prepare the night before
  14. Set several alarm clocks and back-up methods of waking up in due time. A few days prior to the test, it is helpful to drive to the testing site so that you know where you must go on the morning of the test. You do not want to stress or even arrive late because you are lost. Set out your clothing, bag, and several No.2 pencils.

  15. Morning Preparation
  16. On the morning of the test, eat a healthy large breakfast. Pack your bag one more time. Be sure to dress in layers, so that when it gets hot or cold, you can remove the appropriate amount of clothing and always find comfort. Have several No. 2 pencils sharpened and ready, and pack a snack. You do not want hunger pains in the middle of the test.

The SAT, like all sports, is a test that can be studied, attacked, and conquered. If you treat it like you would treat a football or baseball game, you will overcome its foibles. You must train your brain, like you train your body, to understand the language of the standardized test.