improve sat scores

School is back in session, and juniors are already preparing for testing season. The SAT will play a large role in the college application process and help you narrow down a list of places to apply. Don’t let a score keep you from your dream school. Follow these SAT tips to prepare for test time and get you into a college you love.

Create a SAT Score Goal

A standardized test is stressful enough – don’t make it worse by striving for a perfect score. Instead, set a realistic and achievable score goal. You may have heard that 1200 is an ideal target, but this isn’t always the case. A 1200 likely won’t be enough to get high achievers into Harvard, and it’s not necessary for the student who’s trying to get into a local college. Instead, look at the average SAT scores for prospective colleges in the area. This will help you identify a fair scoring range and develop a realistic study plan. Create a list of average score ranges by school (listed under the “Admissions” tab of the website). Since these are averages, aim for a score 100 points higher.

Use the Right Question Bank

When it comes to questions, not all are equal. Many students buy practice tests by Kaplan or the Princeton Review, but this isn’t necessarily the right approach. Use the official practice questions by the test creator to boost your score. Third-party company questions aren’t as accurate and official as those that come from the College Board (who creates and administers the SAT). Using the right question bank is a simple way to adequately prepare for the exam.

Start Early for the SAT

sat tipsWe cannot emphasize enough the importance of spreading out your studying. Cramming will not improve your scores enough to get you into the college of your choice. The SAT requires months of focused study, not days. If you’re already in the position of cramming however, commit to a rigorous schedule. One test prep site recommends a seven-day plan as follows:

Wednesday: 5 hours of study
Thursday: 5.5 hours of study
Friday: 5.5 hours of study
Saturday: 9 hours of study
Sunday: 10 hours of study
Monday: 5 hours of study
Tuesday: 5 hours of study
Wednesday: 5 hours of study
Thursday: 5 hours of study
Friday: 0
Saturday: Test day

If you’ve been practicing your math skills, you’ll see that this is 55 hours of studying in one week. This is more than a full-time job, and applies to focused studying, not frequent social media breaks. Cramming in this manner might not even improve SAT scores because it’s difficult to maintain focus for that long.

Since you’re no longer on summer break, you’ll have to complete this studying around your regular schoolwork. Don’t be in this position – give yourself plenty of time to prepare!

The SAT could well determine the next part of your future. As such, it’s a matter you should take seriously. By setting realistic goals and committing yourself for the long term, you can boost your scores. There is no “magic fix” to increase your scores – study hard, use the best question bank, and have a realistic score goal in mind.

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