Boost Your Scores with Effective SAT Practice

August 3, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Boost Your Scores with Effective SAT Practice

SAT practice is a critical component of preparing for the Scholastic Assessment Test, a standardized exam used for college admissions in the United States. The test measures reading, writing, and mathematics skills and is a key factor in the college application process.

To succeed on the SAT, it’s important to understand the exam format and content and to practice regularly. This blog will provide tips and strategies for making the most of your SAT preparation sessions, helping you achieve your desired score, and increasing your chances of being admitted to your preferred institution.

Is SAT a difficult exam?

Is SAT a difficult exam? The SAT is neither easier nor more difficult than the ACT, contrary to what some people would claim. It all depends on your knowledge of the topic and the way you take in information.

Most of the material on the test is from the ninth and tenth grades, although some more advanced ideas are included from the junior year. How the questions are asked gives the impression that the SAT is a more difficult test. It is different from what many students have become accustomed to doing in high school.

The encouraging news is that you can overcome this obstacle by adequately preparing for the test. On the day of the test, you should be able to feel more prepared if you have taken the SAT practice and are familiar with the test’s format.

What are the key sections of the SAT?

the word SAT on a keyboard

The SAT consists of three main sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW), Math, and the optional Essay. Understanding each section’s format and content is essential for effective preparation, as it allows students to target their studies more effectively.

Below, we delve into the details of each section to help you understand what to expect.

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW)

The EBRW section tests your reading comprehension and writing skills and is divided into two subsections: Reading and Writing & Language.

  • Reading: This subsection consists of passages from literature, history, science, and social studies. It measures your ability to interpret, analyze, and think critically about what you’ve read. Questions may ask you to identify the main ideas, infer information, and analyze the author’s tone and perspective.
  • Writing & Language: This part assesses your ability to recognize and correct grammatical errors and improve the overall quality of writing. It covers areas like sentence structure, punctuation, and usage of words. Understanding the rules of standard English writing can significantly aid in this section.

Together, these subsections aim to measure your ability to read and understand complex texts, as well as your proficiency in writing clear and grammatically correct English.


Divided into two parts (one with a calculator and one without), this section assesses your understanding of mathematical concepts and problem-solving abilities.

  • Math Test – Calculator: This subsection allows you to use a calculator to solve problems. It typically includes more complex problems that involve multiple steps, requiring an understanding of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and data analysis.
  • Math Test – No Calculator: This part emphasizes arithmetic, algebra, and interpreting data, where a calculator is not allowed. Being able to perform calculations by hand and recognizing mathematical patterns are vital skills for this portion.

Together, these math sections evaluate your ability to apply mathematical concepts, solve real-world problems, and interpret data presented in various forms such as tables, graphs, and equations.

Essay (optional)

The essay evaluates your ability to analyze a given passage and write a coherent response.

  • Analyzing the Argument: You will be provided with a passage and asked to analyze the author’s argument, examining how they build their case using evidence, reasoning, and stylistic elements.
  • Writing Skills: Your essay should be clear, focused, and logically organized. Proper grammar and usage of language are essential. It’s not about agreeing or disagreeing with the author but analyzing how the argument is made.

The Essay section is optional, but some colleges may require it for admission. It’s essential to check with the colleges you are interested in to understand their specific requirements.

Understanding the key sections of the SAT is not merely about knowing what subjects are covered. It’s about comprehending the skills and abilities that each section is designed to assess. Familiarity with these aspects will guide your preparation, allowing you to focus on the areas that are most relevant to the test and, consequently, to your future college aspirations.

Equipping yourself with this knowledge will pave the way to a successful SAT experience, reflecting both your academic capabilities and your readiness for college-level work.

What is the best way to practice for the SAT?

SAT practice questions booklet

How should one most effectively prepare to take the SAT? If you follow the advice in this blog, you will be able to understand the ideas tested on the SAT and have the self-assurance to reach the goals you set for yourself.

Start early.

Your junior and senior years will be jam-packed with key activities, so you must plan where your SAT fits in during this time. Choose a date at least two to three months in the future so you have time to prepare.

If you get a head start, you’ll be able to estimate how much you need to learn each week and avoid having to cram at the last minute. Students who get a head start on studying perform better on the SAT and enter the exam with a higher confidence level.

Take a full-length practice test.

You may get a good idea of how well you’ll do on the SAT by taking a practice exam that replicates the conditions of the test day in terms of the amount of time allotted to each question and how long you have to answer it.

Pay attention in class.

The SAT was updated in 2016 to have questions more directly related to what students learn in school. This indicates that it is even more critical for you to pay attention in class and to the instructors teaching you.

You will have completed three and a half years of challenging coursework by the time you reach the spring of your junior year, which will significantly improve your chances of performing well on the SAT.

Know what to expect on test day.

You must prepare to arrive on time and be well-rested for the test.

Even though SAT practice is essential, cramming the day or night before an exam like the SAT is not a good idea. Instead, decompress the night before your test by giving yourself time to relax. After arranging your clothing, gathering the items you need to carry, and setting an alarm for the following morning, you may unwind and start your sleep routine early.

Give yourself time the night before the test to mentally and physically prepare for it. You’ll have greater confidence and energy when you go into the testing facility the next morning.

When should you begin your studies for the SAT?

When should you begin your studies for the SAT? In general, the length of time you will need to study for the exam will somewhat depend on how well you performed initially on a diagnostic test. Students who score below 1200 on the SAT or 25 on the ACT will have the most room to improve their scores.

Therefore, it is essential to set aside at least three months to study and practice for at least five to ten hours a week. In general, it is likely that a period of study lasting anywhere from one month to six months will be sufficient to provide meaningful outcomes.

SAT practice can be beneficial in preparing for the test and increasing one’s score. It allows students to familiarize themselves with the format and types of questions and identify areas where they need to improve.

However, it’s important to use practice tests and resources that accurately reflect the real SAT and not solely rely on them as the sole indicator of one’s abilities. Additionally, other factors, such as test-taking strategies and stress management, can also play a role in performance on the actual test day.

To better prepare for and ace the SAT, consider the following tips:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the format and types of questions: Take practice tests and review the questions you got wrong to understand the format of the test and the types of questions you can expect.
  2. Create a study schedule: Plan out a regular study schedule that allows you to focus on your weaknesses and make steady progress.
  3. Use high-quality resources: Invest in high-quality study materials, review books, and online resources, to ensure that you are practicing with materials that accurately reflect the real test.
  4. Develop test-taking strategies: Learn effective test-taking strategies, such as time management, guess elimination, and problem-solving techniques, to help you perform at your best on test day.
  5. Manage stress: Prepare for test day by managing stress through exercise, meditation, and other stress-reducing activities.

By incorporating these tips into your SAT preparation plan, you can feel confident and prepared on test day and maximize your chances of success.

unidentified student taking a test

How can you maintain balance and avoid burnout during SAT preparation?

Maintaining balance and avoiding burnout during SAT preparation is crucial for achieving your best performance. The process can be rigorous, stressful, and time-consuming, but with the right strategies, it is possible to approach your studies with focus, energy, and resilience.

Here’s a detailed look at the strategies to maintain balance and prevent burnout:

Create a Realistic Study Schedule

Creating a well-structured and realistic study schedule is the cornerstone of effective preparation.

  • Break Down Goals: Divide your preparation into daily or weekly goals. Understand what you need to cover and pace yourself accordingly.
  • Include Breaks: Schedule regular short breaks during study sessions and longer breaks during the week. These breaks are vital for mental refreshment.
  • Balance with Other Responsibilities: Make sure your study plan aligns with your other commitments, like school, work, or extracurricular activities.
  • Adjust as Needed: Be flexible with your schedule. If you find something isn’t working, make necessary adjustments.

Engage in Stress-Reducing Activities

Integrating activities that reduce stress can be a powerful tool to keep burnout at bay.

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity can boost your mood and energy levels, helping you stay focused and relaxed.
  • Meditation and Mindfulness: Practices like meditation or deep breathing can help you remain calm and centered.
  • Pursue Hobbies: Engaging in hobbies or creative pursuits that you enjoy can provide a pleasant break and mental recharge.

Stay Connected with Friends and Family

Social support plays a significant role in maintaining balance.

  • Seek Encouragement: Share your goals and progress with friends and family. They can offer encouragement, motivation, and even a different perspective when needed.
  • Maintain Social Activities: Don’t isolate yourself entirely. Spending quality time with loved ones can be uplifting and rejuvenating.

Consider Professional Support

Professional guidance can add structure to your preparation.

  • Work with a Tutor: A tutor can personalize your study plan, offer expertise, and keep you accountable.
  • Join Study Groups: Sometimes, studying with peers can make the process more enjoyable and provide additional insights.
  • Counseling Services: If stress becomes overwhelming, professional counseling can provide strategies to manage anxiety and maintain well-being.

Asian students taking an exam

SAT preparation is not merely an academic endeavor; it’s a period that requires careful balancing of study, personal life, health, and well-being. By integrating these strategies, you are not just preparing for a test; you are cultivating skills that will serve you well in college and beyond.

Taking care of yourself, managing your time wisely, and seeking support when needed can lead to a more balanced, focused, and effective study experience, ultimately paving the way for success in the SAT and your future academic pursuits.

How does the SAT affect college admissions?

Understanding the role of the SAT in college admissions is crucial for students aiming to gain admission to their preferred universities. The SAT’s influence extends beyond just an examination score; it is a pivotal aspect of many admissions processes.

Significance of the SAT Score

Colleges often use SAT scores to compare applicants from different schools and regions. A strong SAT score can not only enhance your application but also make you eligible for merit-based scholarships.

  • Benchmark for Admissions: SAT scores serve as a standardized measure to evaluate an applicant’s readiness for college-level work, helping colleges compare students from various educational backgrounds.
  • Scholarship Opportunities: Some colleges and third-party organizations offer scholarships based on SAT scores. Achieving a high score can unlock financial aid opportunities, reducing the financial burden of college education.
  • Program-Specific Requirements: Some specialized programs or majors might require certain SAT scores or subject test scores. Meeting or exceeding these scores may be essential for admission to specific fields of study.

Comprehensive View of the Applicant

The SAT is not the only factor considered in admissions, but it is an essential one. Here’s how it fits into the broader picture:

  • Academic Profile: SAT scores complement other academic achievements like GPA, class rank, and course rigor, providing colleges with a more comprehensive view of your scholastic abilities.
  • Extracurricular Activities: While SAT scores reflect academic prowess, colleges also look for well-rounded individuals. Balancing SAT preparation with maintaining a strong GPA, engaging in extracurricular activities, and crafting compelling essays will provide a well-rounded application.
  • Holistic Admissions Approach: Some colleges employ a holistic approach to admissions, considering personal qualities, essays, interviews, and recommendations. In this context, a strong SAT score can support your application but will be considered alongside these other factors.

Navigating Test-Optional Policies

It’s worth noting that some colleges have implemented test-optional policies, allowing applicants to choose whether to submit SAT scores. These policies can vary:

  • Fully Test-Optional: Some colleges do not require SAT scores at all, assessing applicants entirely based on other criteria.
  • Test-Flexible: Some institutions may allow students to submit other standardized test scores, like AP or IB exams, in place of the SAT.
  • Special Circumstances: Certain colleges may waive the SAT requirement for students who meet specific GPA or class rank thresholds.

Even in these scenarios, a strong SAT score may still enhance your application, particularly if you’re aiming for highly competitive programs or scholarships.

Students taking an exam.

The SAT’s role in college admissions is multifaceted, influencing not just acceptance decisions but also scholarship eligibility and placement in specific programs. It’s a valuable piece of the college admissions puzzle, but it’s just one part of a broader picture that includes academic achievements, personal qualities, and extracurricular involvement.

Understanding how the SAT fits into this landscape is vital for crafting an application that reflects your full potential and aligns with your college aspirations.

As you begin to think about college admissions, SAT practice is an important step in your journey. The SAT can play a significant role in determining your eligibility for college, and it is essential to take it seriously. Here at AdmissionSight, you can receive personalized guidance and support on effectively preparing for the SAT.

So, don’t wait! Book an initial consultation with us today and take the first step towards achieving your goals. With the right guidance and support, you can feel confident and prepared for the SAT and one step closer to your dreams.


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