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How To Study For The SAT In A Month

High school is a busy time. From social events to grades to extracurriculars, you’ve got a lot on your plate. So much, in fact, that you might have suddenly found yourself a month away from your SAT date, and you haven’t started studying. 

Don’t worry! You still have time to bring up your score. Read on to learn how you can set up a unique studying schedule to meet your needs and discover tons of useful tips that will help you walk into test day ready to earn your dream score.

Do You Have Enough Time? Yes!

Rest assured. Even if you only have a month left to cram, you can still do well on the SAT and improve your score. However, you have to set up realistic expectations for yourself. Normally, we would recommend studying over the course of 3 to 6 months in preparation for the SAT, especially for students looking to increase their score by more than 200 points. But a month is still enough time to fit in everything you need.

Let’s lay it out for a moment. Imagine you want to add 300 points to your score. You would probably have to study up to 5 hours a day to achieve that in just 30 days. On top of other commitments, friends, and just having fun, you likely won’t have the time or the energy to dedicate that much time to studying every day for a whole month. You’ll burn out after one or two days! But, depending on the schedule you set for yourself and how well you stick to it, you should be able to bump up your score by as much as 200 points. 

So don’t freak out! You have the time to improve your score as long as you are willing to put the necessary effort and hours into studying whenever you can.

Create a Schedule and Stick to It

In order to figure out how much time you’ll need to spend studying each week, you first need to pinpoint your target score. You can find data about the average accepted SAT scores for most colleges via a few simple Google searches, so compile a list of scores from your dream schools. Ideally, you should aim for a score that is high enough to get you into every school on your list.

Once you know your target score, it’s time to work out how much you need to improve. SAT Practice Tests can give you an idea of how well you would score on the SAT at the current moment. There are 8 practice tests available on College Board that replicate the redesigned SAT. Your score on the practice test will serve as your baseline score, which you can use to gauge which subject areas you need to focus on and how many more points you’d like to earn.

The following list explains about how many hours of studying will be required in order to improve your SAT scores by a certain number of points:

  • 0 to 10 points: 10+ hours or 2.5 hours per week.
  • 10 to 100 points: 20+ hours or 5 hours per week.
  • 100 to 150 points: 40+ hours or 10 hours per week.
  • 150 to 200 points: 80+ hours or 20 hours per week.
  • 200+ points: 150+ hours or nearly 40 hours per week.

80 hours sounds like a long time, but breaking your sessions down into a manageable schedule full of bite-sized chunks will help you see that you can accomplish that much studying. You just need to use your time wisely and focus your attention on the areas that need the most improvement. 

It’s also important to remember not to overexert yourself at the risk of being mentally fatigued come test day. In fact, depending on how much you’re looking to improve, you might not even need to study every day!

Familiarize Yourself With the Test

Knowing what to expect on test day gives you a huge advantage. After all, the fear of being surprised or under-prepared is often part of what makes tests so scary for students. Give yourself a confidence boost by learning the format of the SAT inside and out by making sure you understand the following features: 

  • How the SAT is scored.
  • What the format looks like.
  • What type of content it covers.
  • What types of questions will appear in each section of the test. 

Take Practice Tests Often

Practice tests can be a great way to acquaint yourself with the test while alleviating test anxiety at the same time. Try your best to simulate a real testing environment each time you take one. Eventually, your anxiety should go down as the experience becomes more familiar.

Practice tests also help you gauge your improvement and adjust your study schedule as needed. If you find yourself doing well in one section and poorly in another, you may want to divert some more attention to your weaker subject instead. Schedule your practice tests strategically though, as taking one too early might discourage you if your score hasn’t improved significantly yet and taking one too late could deplete your mental energy.

Learn and Develop Strategies

No matter how much you study, you still might not know the answer to every single question on the test. These curveball questions are where test-taking strategies come in handy. Different subjects have different strategies you can learn to use when you don’t know an answer. Preparing yourself with strategies not only allows you to face practically any question head on, but it should also give you a confidence boost going into the test.

Examples of common math strategies include:

  • Plug in answers and numbers when you’re unsure how to solve a problem.
  • Memorize common formulas and facts.
  • Show your work to track your thinking.
  • Underline key parts of the questions.

Examples of common writing and language strategies include:

  • Skim the questions before reading or skimming the passage.
  • Answer questions as you read the passage.
  • Memorize common grammar rules.
  • Look for evidence to support your answers directly within the passage.

Study Vocabulary

It’s much harder to answer a question if you don’t understand what it’s asking. Although vocabulary is no longer a large piece of the SAT, it still helps to make sure you understand the meanings of typical SAT words. College Board recommends reading a variety of texts to familiarize yourself with words that often appear in college-level assignments and learn how to use context to understand potentially unknown words.

Target Your Strengths and Weaknesses

As you work through your practice tests and questions, pick out problem areas and focus on them. Review your mistakes, re-solve problems, and adjust your habits to make sure you build an understanding of exactly what you might be doing incorrectly and how to fix it. Improvement takes time, so be patient with yourself and try not to get frustrated if you need a few tries to get things just right.

But this does not mean you should neglect your strengths! Feeling confident in a subject is great, but you should still dedicate time to review the core concepts and strategies. Otherwise, you might lag behind a little in those areas and not end up performing as well as you expected.

Get Help From Experts

Remember, you don’t have to study alone! If you need help figuring out where to start, what to focus on, or how to review what you already know, look to Prep Expert. Our self-paced and weekend review courses are designed to provide the guidance and last minute preparation you need to make sure you earn that improved target score.

Self-Paced SAT Prep Course

This course offers more than 100 essential SAT strategies available through 30 hours of video content that you can watch on your own schedule. Taught by Prep Expert Founder Dr. Shaan Patel, the Self-Paced SAT Prep Course is the perfect guide for students studying on a strict timeline, utilizing plenty of step-by-step examples and practice problems to show you how to ace the SAT like a perfect-scorer. 

Students have access to the course for up to 1 year after purchase and can watch the videos anytime, anywhere, and on any computer or mobile device that has an internet connection.

Weekend Review SAT Prep Course

Every weekend before an official SAT test, Prep Expert instructors offer the Weekend Review SAT Prep Course to cover all the topics you’ll need to know for test day, including SAT Math, SAT Reading, and SAT Writing & Language. 

The weekend course is a great quick review option that helps students get answers to all their last minute questions in real time. Located in the Prep Expert virtual online classroom, this course typically takes place from 9:00AM to 4:00PM Pacific Time on Saturday and Sunday with a 1-hour lunch break around noon. You can find the full schedule of upcoming weekend reviews here.

​​Over the past 12 years, Prep Expert has helped 100,000+ students improve their SAT scores, gain admission into top universities, and win over $100 million in college scholarships. Sign up today and let our expert instructors guide you through your last minute study sessions!

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