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How to Start Preparing for SAT in 9th Grade

Because the SAT is a big part of the college application process, many people falsely believe that they don’t have to start preparing for the test until their junior or senior years of high school. 

However, if students wait until they are upperclassmen to start getting ready for the SAT, it will be too late for them to earn a great score.

If you’re just starting high school there are steps you can take so that you can submit high SAT scores to the colleges on your list in the future.

Here are the best ways for you to start preparing for the SAT during your freshman year of high school:

Answer practice questions

While you don’t need to devote several hours each day to studying for the SAT at this point in your high school career, you should start to familiarize yourself with the test by answering practice questions.

Sign up for Kaplan’s free SAT question of the day and try to answer and review a question at least every school day during a passing period, at lunch time, or before or after school. 

Considering that the average school year is 180 days, if you answer one question each school day, you will have answered 540 questions by the time you’re ready to start your senior year. If you answer questions even on days when you don’t have school, you will have answered over 1000 questions!

With so many questions under your belt, you will not be surprised by any questions that come your way when it’s time for you to take the test.

Pay attention in your classes

Many of the subjects covered on the SAT including Algebra, grammar rules, and sentence structure are taught and heavily reinforced during the early years of high school.

If you don’t build a strong foundation of knowledge your freshman year, you will find it difficult to understand some of the key concepts that are tested on the SAT.

Whenever you struggle to understand a new concept during your freshman year, be sure to ask your teacher for clarification or seek out private tutoring so that you can have the academic foundation you need to be successful on the SAT and beyond.

Plan to take the PSAT

Taking the PSAT during your sophomore and junior years of high school will help you know how best to prepare for the SAT. You can make sure you’re ready to take the PSAT your sophomore year by completing a few steps as a freshman:

  • Talk to your guidance counselor: At some schools, the PSAT is required and students do not have to worry about signing up to take this test. However, at some schools, it is up to the student to make sure they register for the test on time if they want to take it their sophomore year. Ask your guidance counselor for information about signing up for the test at your school.
  • Understand the structure of the test: Look up key information about the test before you take it sophomore year so that you aren’t surprised by the format of the test or the content that is covered in each section.
  • Answer practice questions: The college board has practice questions you can use to get an idea of what to expect when you take the PSAT.

Figure out your baseline score

It will be hard for you to know what areas you need to improve before you take the SAT without first seeing your current strengths and weaknesses.

Take an official SAT practice test during your freshman year so you can establish your baseline score and see which sections are going to give you the most trouble on the test. This way you’ll know what concepts you need to spend the most time reviewing and improving upon before your junior year rolls around, and you’ll have a clear idea of how far away you are from your target score.

Spend time reading every day

The SAT has questions that will test your reading comprehension and your ability to define vocabulary in context. A good way to sharpen these skills is to spend time reading independently each day.

Independent reading will expose you to new vocabulary words, improve your reading comprehension skills, develop critical thinking skills, and allow you to read more quickly, which will help you do well on the SAT Reading section.

As you read, make sure you look up unfamiliar words. It will also be beneficial to ask yourself questions about the main idea, organization, and supporting evidence in the books and articles you read.

Memorize grammar rules

English teachers are responsible for teaching critical reading and thinking skills, literature, writing, revision, analysis, research, and more in their classes with a limited amount of time to do so. This can mean that there isn’t as much class time devoted to studying grammar.

Since grammar questions will appear on the SAT, it is important for you to take this into your own hands and start studying grammar rules as early as possible. 

Do you know the proper way to use a semicolon? Do you know how to make all of your subjects and verbs agree? Are you good with homophones? Can you differentiate between the active and passive voice?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you need to dedicate some time to memorizing important grammar rules during your freshman year of high school.

Next steps

While you don’t want to over prepare to the point of burning out, it is never too early to take the actions above and start getting ready for the SAT as an upperclassman.

In the meantime, Prep Expert has resources you can use to stay sharp and ready to conquer the SAT down the road. 

Prep Expert offers personalized private tutoring for a variety of subjects including math and English. With the help of this private tutoring, you can ensure that you have a solid understanding of the foundational math and English concepts that you will need to know on the SAT. In addition to subject area tutoring, Prep Expert also provides private SAT tutoring services so that you can work one-on-one with an instructor who will make sure you are ready for the SAT in a couple of years.

Even though it may seem far away, the time for you to take the SAT is just around the corner. It will be here before you know it, and you’ll want to be prepared.

By following the steps in this guide and working with one of the expert math, English, and/or SAT tutors available through Prep Expert, you can take giant leaps in the right direction as you prepare to take the SAT.

Learn more about how Prep Expert can help you reach your target SAT score when you visit our website.

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