How to Study For the SAT

Study For the SAT Test

*This information refers to a version of the SAT which is no longer in use. To see information related to the Redesigned SAT, first administered in March 2016, see here!* 

The SAT. Your frenemy. If you don't learn how to study for the SAT, you'll be in some hot water come test day, right? On the flip side, if you do learn how to study for this mammoth exam, then you can expect a much higher score than you would have received with no SAT study time at all. It just makes sense. Your college admission and possibly even scholarship money depends on it!

Study for the SAT Early

Calendar (focus on Thursday's dates)
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1, 2, and 3 month SAT study schedules

Listen. The SAT is a test that can make or break your college entrance, okay? If you're a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of person and plan to study 2 days in advance for this thing, you're in for a surprise. You can't just rely on your high school knowledge, no matter how vast it may be. It takes some time to prepare! Think months, not days. So, plan ahead; score happy.

Get a Baseline Score


Before you start to study for the SAT, buy an SAT book, flip to the back, and take an SAT practice test cold. See exactly the kind of score you'd get with no study time at all. The score you get is your baseline score. From there, you'll know exactly where you need to improve.

Set a Goal

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And make it a “SMAART” goal, okay? You know, one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Action-oriented, Results-oriented, and Time-phased. Identify the score you want to get, and the study methods that are going to get you there in the time you need.

Learn the SAT Basics

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SAT 101

What kind of stuff is on this bad boy? How do you register? How many sections are there? How long does the test take? Can you use a calculator? What's a good SAT score? You need to figure out all this basic stuff before you ever test. If you find out that late registration has passed for the day you wanted to test, you're going to have to rethink your study time, huh? Find out the SAT basics first.

Figure Out your SAT Prep options

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SAT Prep Options

Should you buy a book? Hire an SAT tutor? Take a class? Download an SAT app for your phone? Those are all good options! Look into them. Spending a couple hundred bucks right now could pay off big if your SAT score qualifies you for a scholarship.

Create a Study Schedule

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How to manage your time

I know, I know. You're the busiest teen at your school. Between work, sports, friends, grades, clubs, and family, you're booked! That's exactly why you need to create a study schedule. Work studying into your week as much as you can. The less time you have per day to devote, means you need to start earlier. So get at it.

Take Practice SAT Tests

A few SAT practice tests will help warm you up. Take enough full-length practice tests to truly get a feel for the test. Practice makes perfect!

Be Accountable

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Get your guidance counselor, best friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, mom/dad, coach or someone else to harass you into studying. You're going to slack; it happens. So, build in a back-up system – someone to kick your behind when you feel like laying around, watching people beat each other up on reality TV.

Memorize the SAT Test Strategies

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SAT test tips

Is it okay to guess? How many seconds should you take per question? What should you do with extra time at the end? These are test strategies that you'll need for the big SAT test day. Cram them into your skull now and give yourself an edge.

5 Things To Do The Day of the SAT Test

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "How to Study For the SAT." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Roell, Kelly. (2020, August 26). How to Study For the SAT. Retrieved from Roell, Kelly. "How to Study For the SAT." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 27, 2023).