How to Study For The SAT By Yourself

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers describes the 10,000-hour rule — the idea that in order to master any skill, you must dedicate at least 10,000 hours of practice to that skill. Many famous athletes have attributed dedicating 10,000 hours of practice to their success, including Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, and Wayne Gretzky. However, the 10,000 hour rule does not apply to just sports. It applies to everything.

Unfortunately, high school students do not have 10,000 hours to dedicate to studying for the SAT or ACT. However, SAT prep (or ACT prep) is a sport. Students must practice in order to get better at either exam. But practicing the same bad test-taking habits will not much do you much good. High school students need to learn the best techniques to apply to these exams and then spend dozens of hours practicing those strategies on official ACT and SAT questions. This is how to most effectively study for the SAT by yourself.

Although students do not have 10,000 hours to dedicate to these tests, I still believe a significant amount of time is needed to dedicate to these tests. The number that I believe is sufficient is 100 hours. When I raised my SAT score from average to perfect in high school, I prepped approximately 200-300 hours for the test. However, I wasted a lot of time preparing in the wrong way.

At 2400 Expert, I have developed a course that has distilled everything students need to know down to 100 hours: 36 hours of class + 24 hours of tests + 40 hours of homework. Personally, I don’t believe the 18-hour prep course that most companies offer dedicates enough time to these important exams.

We consistently see students make significant score improvement gains in week 6 of our ACT and SAT prep courses — right around when they have dedicated 100 hours to preparing for these exams. Become a master at the SAT (or ACT) — prep at least 100 hours!

Shaan Patel

Shaan Patel is the founder of Prep Expert Test Preparation (formerly 2400 Expert), a #1 bestselling SAT prep author, an MD/MBA student at Yale and USC, and winner of an investment deal with billionaire Mark Cuban on ABC's Shark Tank. He raised his own SAT score from average to perfect and teaches students his methods in an online SAT prep class.