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How to Prepare for the SAT

In the next few posts, I’m going to cover some basic information on how students can best prepare for the SAT, ACT, LSAT, MCAT, SSAT and several more. The College Board’s SAT test is released and administered roughly six times per year, and students often use a combination of test prep books, tutoring, and self-study to be prepared for the exam. No matter your method, there are some basic tips you can follow to be best prepared on test day.

SAT Test Strategies:

(1) Practice under timed, actual conditions. By simulating the test environment, you will be better prepared on test day. What this means is that if the SAT exam will be held on a Saturday at 9am, then you should take every practice test at the same exact time. You should also follow the exact instructions on the test and take only the amount of time allowed for your breaks. Often times students prepare for the SAT by taking random sections of the test at odd hours of the week. This disorganized approach won’t help you on test day. Every time you take a test, it must be under the exact conditions – time, day of the week and a quiet location.

(2) Focus on fewer questions. Students are perplexed when I tell them this. There’s a belief by many students that quantity will out measure quality when prepare for the SAT. Yes, you should still try thousands of SAT questions – but when you go through and grade them – pick a few from each section to focus on for during your remaining preparation. So do 2000 to 3000 SAT practice problems, but pick 5 to 10% of these – between 100 to 300 – from all of the combined questions, and focus on them for the rest of your SAT preparation time. These questions will no doubt be similar to those that will appear on the actual SAT exam.

(3) Set a solid study schedule. I can’t emphasize this enough! If you are preparing for the SAT and you don’t have a study schedule that balances all of your work, school, and extracurricular activities, you’ll likely lose focus and your long-term vision of improving your test scores. Your study schedule should include at least 15 to 20 hours per week of actual SAT preparation. You need to treat your SAT prep as if it were a part-time job. Too often I hear students say they’re too busy, or just don’t have enough time to get your scores up. The bottom line is…you do have time. Any high school student can prepare – no matter the number of AP courses, extracurriculars, other jobs – there’s no excuse. Set a solid study schedule, and stick to it!


This article about “How to Prepare for the SAT” was written by President and Founder of Top Test Prep, Ross Blankenship. Top Test Prep provides test preparation and private tutoring for the SSAT, ISEE, SAT, ACT, LSAT, MCAT and more. Ross Blankenship is also an admissions expert and educational expert who helps students get into top schools.

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