It’s rare for students to score a perfect 1600 on the SAT on their first try. However, even if you don’t do so on your first try, you can almost always improve your overall SAT score from one test date to the next, as long as you have a plan and put in the hard work to follow it.
Here are 10 easy-to-do SAT score improvement tips that you can use when both studying for the test and on test day itself.
Don’t forget to check out our various SAT test prep options today, before signing up for your test date.
Start Studying Immediately After A Test
Start getting ready for the next test date, immediately after the first one.
Let’s say that you’ve just completed your first SAT attempt and you know you’d like to retake it. As soon as you can, write down as much as you can remember while taking it. Write down anything that confused you, was unexpectedly difficult, sections you felt confident on, etc. Record those initial impressions as much as possible.
They will help you plan for your next study cycle because now you’re aware of what you need the most help with on a live test. While your scores report will help, these impression notes will help immediately start the next round of prep. Furthermore, you can compare those impressions to your actual score report and see whether you were correct or incorrect on what you need to further improve next time.
Analyze Your Score Report
Get the data you need to adjust your studying from the score report.
After taking the SAT, you will receive your official Score Report. Whether it’s good or bad, use that report to your advantage. Besides your total score and section scores, pay particular attention to the subscores. These are where you will receive the greatest benefit for your next prep round. These scores range from 1 to 15 in each of these specific categories:
- Command of Evidence
- Words in Context
- Expression of Ideas
- Standard English Conventions,
- Heart of Algebra
- Problem Solving and Data Analysis
- Passport to Advanced Math
Look at the weakest scores and you’ll know what needs to be focused on next. Think of it as moving from “I want to raise my SAT score” to “I want to raise my Passport to Advanced Math and Words in Context scores”. Moreover, you’ll have the confidence of knowing which sections you’re already good at, which will boost your self-confidence.
Optimize Your Study Habits
Once you carve out the necessary time to study, the next important step is to optimize your study routine.
If you haven’t taken the test yet, then make sure to take at least 1-2 practice tests. The immediate benefit is identifying which sections give you the most trouble. You can then tailor your prep to what needs the most improvement. Dive into those sections and try to find every weakness you can address. Once you feel confident, take another practice test, grade it and see if you’ve improved.
If you have improved, that’s great; if you are still having trouble, then you’re at least aware of how much more help you need and can adjust your studying accordingly. On the actual practice tests, circle any questions you either were unsure of and especially those you got wrong, to drill down what skills you need to further develop.
Create A Study Schedule
Find the time in your already busy routine to consistently study; it will pay off.
You are going to take the SAT during your high school junior and senior years; during that time, you are going to be ridiculously busy. Between passing classes to keep your GPA high, extracurricular activities, prom, spending time with friends and family, etc., finding time to effectively study for the SAT can be challenging.
Plus, when you study, it’s important to break things up into easily-digestible chunks for your brain to understand and memorize. The best thing to do is look at your current schedule, list out all of your current commitments, and look for gaps in what you have available right now. If you need to make space, then look at your commitments, rank them in order of importance, and consider cutting ones that aren’t essential to your overall success.
Study With High-Quality Materials
Contrary to popular belief, doing well on the SAT doesn’t just boil down to knowing a lot of Math, Reading, and Writing skills.
To score highly, you need to understand the actual test structure itself. The SAT operates through specific patterns, which if you understand, you can use to your advantage. The trick then is to understand that you actually have to learn how to take the SAT.
In order to do that, you need to use the most accurate study materials available in order to realistically replicate the experience and avoid developing bad habits and incorrect skills. Fortunately, the College Board and other places, like Prep Expert, provide quality study materials that accurately replicate the test-taking experience.
Use Practice Tests
Think of practice tests as both warm-ups and progress reports.
Taking the SAT is a significant commitment that requires a lot of work and study. Long story short, you won’t be successful if you go into test day hoping to wing it. You need to simulate test-taking conditions to be ready for the time constraints you’ll face.
Thankfully, there are realistic practice tests available that will train you on both the test’s format and develop your physical and mental stamina for every section. Furthermore, by taking multiple practice tests during your prep cycle, you can measure how much or little your studying is affecting your potential test day score.
Find A Study Group
You don’t have to do it all by yourself; study groups can help you improve and stay motivated.
Sometimes it’s too hard to do it all by yourself. If you’ve been working on improving scores or problem areas and hit the wall, then don’t be afraid to look for help from peers. Chances are you’re not the only person in your class taking the SAT, so take advantage of that and join a study group with other classmates.
Not only can you help each other out on getting better at specific sections, but you can also work towards group goals and, most importantly, keep each other accountable to consistently study. If you don’t want to create one, then make sure to check at your high school, local library, or even community college for existing groups to join. There’s strength in numbers, so use them to your advantage here.
Target Score Goal
One way to help focus your studying and motivate yourself is defining a goal score you want to hit.
If you’ve taken the test already, then you can assess your section scores, especially the subscores, and use them to create a realistic point improvement goal. If you end up with a low overall score at first, don’t stress. You actually have more room for noticeable improvement.
If your score is already somewhat high and you want to fine tune, then you will probably need to work harder identifying those specific problem spots that dented your scores. If you take this approach, it’s not impossible to see 100-200 point improvements with enough hard work. If you have specific target schools in mind already, look at their SAT score requirements as goals to hit too for motivation.
Overcome Stress And Fear
Stress is natural, but don’t let it shut your mind and focus down.
Taking the SAT can be nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be so. When preparing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the test as a whole, and feel pressured about failure due to a low score. Don’t let that fear overtake you. Instead, when studying with practice tests, look at every wrong answer as a learning opportunity. If you miss a question, focus on why.
Did you miss it because of how it was worded? Or did you miss it because you didn’t understand how to answer it? If you didn’t understand how to answer, that’s great! That just means once you have that knowledge, that sort of question won’t defeat you. Knowledge breeds confidence, and confidence stares down fear and stress. Understand that insight and your entire study approach will be engaging rather than taxing.
Don’t Cram For The SAT!
Cramming for the SAT won’t work for you; it’s too hard of a test to prepare for last second.
The SAT isn’t like your regular high school test; there’s too much information to know about the material and test format to shove into your brain at the last possible second. That’s why you absolutely need to set aside time and schedule well in advance before signing up for a test date. Your brain and nerves will thank you for it later.
The night before a test day, make sure to eat a good meal and get a full night of sleep. You will be relaxed and have the necessary energy to endure stress and stay focused on each question. Setting aside 1-2 months of consistent prep time before a test is definitely recommended for positive results.
How Prep Expert Can Help You
Don’t forget, our purpose is to help you learn the strategies and insights that our founder Shaan Patel developed to achieve a perfect 1600 score.
Taught by our 99th percentile-scoring instructors, these strategies are put into practice through our various homework assignments and weekly practice tests. Together, this work will allow you to both find and address your problem areas on the test before having to take it for real.
Ultimately, our aim is to help you achieve your goals for both school and life by providing the tools to overcome this first hurdle in the process – your test score.
Be sure to check out our various class options, from in-person, live online, to self-paced video on demand, to find one that fits your goals and schedule. Our classes are available year-round, so there’s no reason to wait.
For more information and tips, check out Prep Expert