SAT Study Plan for 6 Months
Prepping for the SAT is essential to making sure you are able to earn a respectable score on the test and avoid seeing any surprises on test day. However, studying for the SAT is easier said than done.
When you’re ready to start preparing for the SAT, you’ll need to do a whole lot more than cracking open a SAT study guide or taking a practice test or two. For the best results, you will need to devote countless hours to SAT prep, and you will need to have a plan or strategy in place to maximize your study time.
If you’re not sure how to study for the SAT effectively, you are not alone. Through Prep Expert, I have helped thousands of high school students get ready for the SAT and learn how to structure their study time effectively.
To help you get started, I’m sharing some first steps to consider as well as my 6 month SAT study plan that will help you get great results on the test.
Before you begin studying for the SAT, there are a few steps you want to take care of:
Finding your target score
Without a target score in mind, it will be difficult for you to know exactly what your goal should be when studying for the SAT.
You can figure out a good target score by looking at the minimum SAT score requirements for the scholarships you want to apply for your senior year and by looking at the SAT score percentiles for the colleges on your list. You can do this by looking at the College Board website or at the websites for your prospective schools.
At minimum, you want your target score to fall within the middle 50% of the typical score range for accepted applicants. While it is always great to shoot for a score in the top 25%, you will want to do everything possible to avoid earning a score that falls into the bottom 25%.
Once you have a target score in mind, you will be ready to start preparing for the test.
Determining your baseline score
Now that you have a target score in mind, you will need to see how close you are to achieving that score. Take a practice test while mimicking the testing and timing conditions you will encounter when you actually take the SAT, and use your score to help guide your studying.
If you are only 10-20 points away from your target score, you might be able to reach your score with 10-20 hours of studying and SAT practice. However, if you are trying to reach the 99th percentile, or you are 150-200 points or more away from your score, you will want to put in at least 200 hours of studying over the course of six months.
Scheduling the test
Before you decide to prepare for the test, you need to make sure you will have adequate time to study. When you look at the SAT test dates for 2021, be sure to consider your extracurricular activities, work hours, AP and IB exams, and any other commitments that will keep you from dedicated time to studying for the test.
You should also keep in mind that you will likely want to retake the test at least once to meet your target score.
Figure out how much time you need to study so that you can determine the best date and have at least six months to prepare for the test.
Gathering SAT prep resources
While the College Board is the creator of the SAT, the resources they provide online through Khan Academy aren’t enough to help you do well on the SAT. Although these resources can be helpful, they weren’t designed to help you gain the test.
In order to make sure you are ready for test day, you should consider using the following resources:
- Official SAT practice tests
- The Official SAT Study Guide
- Private SAT tutoring and/or an SAT prep course
I recommend signing up for a Prep Expert SAT prep course or private SAT tutoring because this is the best way to make sure you are thoroughly understanding and reviewing your SAT prep materials.
Once you have a score that you want to reach and an ideal test date with at least 6 months for you to study, you will be ready to start a 6 month SAT study plan.
6 month SAT study plan
Just because the SAT might be six months away, does not mean you don’t need to start studying.
This 6 month study plan will help you learn the content that is covered on the SAT so you can use your time efficiently and get closer to earning your target score.
This plan is divided into weeks with the earlier weeks being lighter than later weeks. As you get closer to your test date, you will be spending an increased amount of time preparing for the exam.
This is the best time to ease into studying by learning the format of the test and a few strategies that might work well for you.
- Week 1: Devote five to six hours to taking an official practice test to determine your baseline score and to review your mistakes so that you know what weaknesses to pinpoint over the next few weeks. The practice test will take four hours to complete, so keep that in mind! You should also use some of this time to start learning vocabulary.
- Week 2: Devote four to six hours to learning the format of the SAT as a whole and to learning the format of one of the sections of the test (Reading, Math, or Writing and Language). Don’t forget to spend some time on vocabulary.
- Week 3: Devote four to six hours to learning the format of two other sections of the test (Reading, Math, or Writing and Language). You will want to continue reviewing vocabulary during this week as well.
- Week 4: Devote four to six hours to studying your vocabulary and to determining how you are going to tackle the passages you’ll have to read in the Reading and the Writing and Language sections of the SAT (working with a tutor might come in handy here!)
This is the time for you to dig a bit deeper into the test content.
- Week 1: Spend five to six hours focused on the material that will be covered in the SAT Math section. Start memorizing key math formulas.
- Week 2: Spend five to six hours focused on English content like grammar, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and punctuation.
- Week 3: Spend five to six hours focused on sharpening your understanding of both the math and the English concepts that you practiced earlier this month.
- Week 4: Spend five to six hours taking another practice test and reviewing your results. Remember, reviewing is key to success!
This month is when you should fully cover all of the content that will be on the SAT and start practicing strategies for each section. These strategies don’t necessarily need to be set in stone now, but it will be good practice for you to see which strategies will work best for you.
- Week 1: Dedicate six hours toward the Reading section. Figure out which strategy you are going to use when reading the passages, how best to eliminate answer options, and how you can avoid reading the entire passage in order to maximize your time on the test.
- Week 2: Dedicate six hours toward the Math section. If there are any key formulas you haven’t memorized, learn them. See which math strategies will work best for you on the test. Make sure you know how to approach student-produced response questions as well as multiple-choice questions.
- Week 3: Dedicate six hours toward the Writing and Language section. Brush up on any grammar or punctuation concepts that you are not sure about at this time.
- Week 4: Dedicate six to eight hours taking your third practice test, reviewing your mistakes, going over your vocabulary words, and practicing different concepts and strategies that are weak areas for you.
This month is perfect for review. Just like an athlete will watch game tape and review mistakes so that they don’t repeat them during their next game, you will want to review your mistakes and focus on strengthening your weaknesses on the SAT.
- Week 1: Take six hours to learn the format for the SAT Essay as well as strategies that will help you earn an impressive essay score.
- Weeks 2 and 3: Take six hours each week to review the Math, Writing and Language, and Reading sections
- Week 4: Take six hours to take your fourth practice test, review your answers from the practice test, and review your vocabulary.
During this month, consider your practice test from the previous month and focus on addressing your weak areas.
- Week 1: Spend six to seven hours reviewing one section of the SAT and your vocabulary
- Week 2: Spend six to seven hours reviewing a different section of the SAT and your vocabulary
- Week 3: Spend six to seven hours reviewing a different section of the SAT and your vocabulary
- Week 4: Take a fifth practice test and review your answers
During this final month, you have one last opportunity to focus on areas where you are struggling.
- Week 1: Devote six to seven hours reviewing one section of the SAT and your vocabulary. Spend some of this time practicing your essay writing skills.
- Week 2: Devote six to seven hours reviewing one section of the SAT and your vocabulary. Review the format of the SAT again, and brush up on your vocabulary.
- Week 3: Devote six to seven hours reviewing one section of the SAT and your vocabulary. Take one last practice test and review your results.
- Week 4: Devote four to five hours to reviewing all of the concepts that will be on the SAT, especially those that you struggled with on your last practice test. Review your vocabulary and go over your SAT strategies one last time.
If you stick to this study plan, you will be in good shape heading into the SAT. In order to maximize the effectiveness of this study plan, I recommend that you also take an SAT prep course or work with a private SAT tutor who can help you improve your weaknesses on the test.
Learn about Prep Expert and how we can help you make the most of your six month study plan when you visit our website.