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SAT Study Plan Template

SAT scores are still an important part of many college applications. Even if your top schools don’t require SAT scores, sending in high test scores with your application may help set you apart from other applicants. This is especially beneficial when applying to competitive programs and schools that receive thousands of applications every year.

To achieve the best score you can on the SAT, you will have to study. Your unique study plan typically depends on your study habits and when you schedule your test. It can be difficult to build a study schedule on your own, especially if you’re unsure where to start.

In this article, we will provide the ultimate guide for creating your SAT study plan, including step-by-step instructions, a sample study schedule, and resources you can use to improve both your score and your overall studying experience.

Why Do You Need an SAT Study Plan?

Establishing an SAT study plan not only allows you to improve your score, but it also helps you manage your time to avoid excess stress throughout the studying process. 

Here are some of the key benefits of sticking to an SAT schedule:

  • Focus your studies on the areas that need it most.
  • Make sure your score is actually improving.
  • Check your progress with SAT practice tests.
  • Avoid overworking yourself.
  • Balance your schedule between studying and other commitments.
  • Reduce test anxiety by familiarizing yourself with the test and the environment.

Steps to Build Your SAT Study Plan

Now that you know the benefits of having a good SAT study schedule, let’s go over the 5 simple steps you need to take before you can start building your unique plan.

1. Figure Out Your Baseline Score

In order to create an effective study plan, you first need to assess your current SAT testing abilities prior to studying. This will allow you to determine how much studying you need to do as well as the intensity and timeline for your study schedule. 

Your baseline score is the score you would achieve if you took the SAT without first following a study plan. To figure out your baseline score, you need to take one or multiple SAT practice tests. You can find official SAT practice tests online here.

Try to replicate real testing conditions as much as possible when taking your SAT practice test. Set yourself up in a quiet room, time yourself, and use a calculator approved by the SAT for the math section. Not only will you get a more accurate score this way, but you may also gradually reduce any test-taking anxiety by familiarizing yourself with the conditions of the environment and the test itself.

2. Determine Your Target Score

Your target score is the score that you hope to achieve when you take the actual SAT test. This score should be high enough to gain admission at any of the schools where you will be submitting applications.

To determine your target score, make a list of the average SAT scores for admitted students at your top schools. The highest score on that list will be your target score because it should give you a high chance of acceptance at every school on your list.

If you want to be a truly competitive applicant at all of your top schools, you can aim higher than the average SAT score for admitted students. You may instead want to make a list of SAT scores for the top 75th percentile of admitted students. Achieving a score that is higher than a majority of other applicants should give you a better chance of acceptance and help you stand out.

3. Establish Intensity and Timeline

Once you have your baseline and target test scores, you can use them to determine the duration and intensity of your study plan. Start by finding the difference between the two scores. Knowing how much you need to increase your score to reach your target score will tell you how much to study each week leading up to the test.

Here is a quick guide to help you figure out how many hours per week you need to study:

  • 0 to 10 points: 2.5 hours.
  • 10 to 100 points: 5 hours.
  • 100 to 150 points: 10 hours.
  • 150 to 200 points: 20 hours.
  • 200+ points: 40 hours.

Try to be realistic when creating your timeline. Take into account your other commitments when determining how much time you can allot to studying each week in order to avoid overworking yourself. Keep your normal study habits in mind as well. For example, if you know you have a tendency to procrastinate, be sure to start early and account for a bit of extra time in your schedule so you won’t end up cramming in study sessions at the last moment.

4. Choose a Test Date

Try to plan ahead and choose a test date that provides you plenty of time to spread out your studying. You also need to pick a date that allows you to have access to your test scores before college application deadlines roll around.

If you find yourself studying for the SAT on a time crunch, check out our other guides for improving your test scores with as little as one month of studying.

5. Gather SAT Study Materials

To study properly, you need access to study materials. As we mentioned, you can find SAT practice tests on the College Board website where you can also work with Khan Academy. SAT prep books and online review courses are useful resources as well.

Sample 3 Month SAT Study Plan

  • Take another SAT practice test.
  • As in previous months, analyze your results to determine your focus areas.
  • Focus on your low-scoring foundational concepts.
  • Review all sections of the SAT, even your high-scoring concepts.

Every student’s SAT study plan may look different depending on their other activities and commitments throughout the week. However, you can use this example study plan to get an idea of where to start and how to structure your own schedule.

Month 1:

  • Take your first SAT practice test.
  • Review the results of your practice test and flag low-scoring areas for study.
  • Start by studying concepts that you missed the most often.
  • Mix in reviews of your high-scoring subjects.

Month 2:

  • Take another SAT practice test.
  • Analyze your results to determine where to focus your studying for the month.
  • Review all sections of the SAT, including the SAT Essay if you’re taking it.
  • Take time to learn test-taking strategies.

Month 3:

Week of the SAT:

  • Take your last SAT practice test.
  • Brush up on all key concepts.
  • Take a small break from studying in the days leading up to the exam.

Get Help From SAT Experts

With Prep Expert, you can take a Self-Paced SAT Prep Course that includes more than 100 essential SAT strategies available through 30 hours of video content that you can watch on your own schedule. Our expert instructors also offer frequent online Weekend Reviews that cover all the topics you’ll need to know for test day and help you find answers to all your last minute questions.

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