10 Steps to Earning a High SAT Score
The following is a guide to scoring high on the SAT test. If you follow these steps, your SAT score will go up.
1. Diagnostic SAT Test:
A common question among SAT students is, "How should I start preparing for the SAT test?" Begin your SAT test prep with a diagnostic test. After taking a test, make note of the questions you got wrong as this will be important later. By taking a diagnostic test, you'll see what sections you're good at and what areas you need work on. Where do you find an SAT diagonistic test, you ask? Most popular SAT test prep books include a practice test with answers and explanations.
2. Study Plan:
Evaluate what types of questions you missed on your diagonistic test. Were they mostly Math? Mostly Critical Reading? Writing? Passage-based questions or grid-ins? With your weaknesses in mind, form a specific SAT test study plan, and I really mean specific. You should know what, when, and how you're going to study. Stick to your plan and you'll be on your way to a high SAT score in no time.
For those who get bored easily, try to mix up your study plan. Study SAT Math one day and study Writing another day. Study vocabulary with flash cards, with a list, or with a computer program. Mix it up to keep things interesting.
3. SAT Vocabulary:
An arsenal of vocabulary is going to help your SAT test score tremendously when you get to the SAT Critical Reading Section. The best way to improve your knowledge of "SAT words" is by learning words in context. Read SAT-level material like The Wall Street Journal. Look up any words that are unfamiliar and write them down.
You can also learn words from a vocabulary list. Be careful about trying to learn too many words at one time. Try to learn 30-50 words per day and review at the end of the week. If you want to retain what you've gone over, weekly review is crucial.
4. SAT Math:
Bottom line--to improve your SAT Math score, you have to practice. Do practice Math problems often and make sure you understand all of your mistakes. Did you get the question wrong because you didn't know how to do it or was it a careless mistake? Don't move on until you understand every mistake. The more mistakes you fix during practice the less mistakes you will make on test day. Hence, higher SAT score.
5. Active Reading:
Again, you should read SAT-level material like The Wall Street Journal on a regular basis to improve your Critical Reading score. However, don't just read the paper like it was some casual Saturday afternoon. Practice reading actively. Ask yourself what is the theme of the article? What style is the author writing in? Opinion? Report? These are the type of passage-based questions you'll see on the real SAT test, so you should practice reading with such questions in mind.
6. SAT Writing:
Trust your ear for the SAT Writing section. If a sentence sounds wrong, it probably is wrong, and that's all you need to know. Remember, you don't have to know the reason why there is an error in the sentence just as long as you know there is an error. If you read a lot, you probably already have a good ear for what sounds right and what sounds wrong. To practice, keep on reading The Wall Street Journal.
As for the SAT Essay, practice writing an outline before you start writing your essay. If you have a plan, your essay will flow better and you'll know exactly what you're going to write about.
7. SAT Practice Tests:
It all comes down to practice. You have to practice to improve your SAT score. Take as many SAT practice tests as you can, and remember, learn from your mistakes.
8. Weakness into Strength:
Again, after each SAT practice test, evaluate your incorrect answers. Do the questions you missed follow some kind of theme? Work more on the areas you are most weak in and less on the areas you are strong in. Working on your weaknesses can be difficult, but it's the only way you'll improve your SAT score.
9. Don't Procrastinate:
Start studying as soon as you can, so that you can afford to study about an hour or so every day or every other day. Last-minute SAT test preparation is extremely low-yield and close to useless. Avoid procrastination at all costs.
Breathe in.....breathe out.....breathe in. Thinking about the SAT can be stressful, so take SAT preparation step-by-step and stay focused on the task at hand. If you're constantly worrying about all the work you have to do, you'll never get anything done.
If you follow these 10 steps, your SAT score will improve. Remember that it all comes down to the effort you put in. You have to put in the time to see results. Happy preparing.