10 SAT Score Improvement Tips

The SAT is challenging, so don't feel bad if the test didn't go well the first time. Improve your SAT test scores for your retake with these top tips!

This blog was originally posted on PrepExpert.com.

It’s rare for students to score a perfect 1600 on the SAT on their first try. However, you can always improve your overall SAT score from one test date to the next, as long as you have a plan and put in the hard work to follow it. Here are 10 SAT score improvement tips that you can use when both studying for the test and on test day itself.

SAT infographic 

Infographic by PrepExpert

1. Start studying immediately after a test

As soon as you can after taking the test, write down as much as you can remember from it. Write down anything that confused you, was unexpectedly difficult, sections you felt confident on, etc. This will help you plan for your next study cycle because now you’re aware of what you need the most help with on a live test. While your score report will help, these impression notes will help immediately start the next round of test prep.

Related: Top 5 Myths About the SAT

2. Adjust your studying based on your score report

After taking the SAT, you will receive your official score report. Whether it’s good or bad, use that report to your advantage. Besides your total score and section scores, pay particular attention to the sub-scores. These are where you will receive the greatest benefit for your next prep round. Look at the weakest scores and you’ll know what needs to be focused on next. Moreover, you’ll have the confidence of knowing which sections you’re already good at.

3. Optimize your study habits

Once you carve out the necessary time to study, the next important step is to optimize your study routine. Make sure to take at least one or two practice tests. The immediate benefit is identifying which sections give you the most trouble. You can then tailor your prep to what needs the most improvement. Once you feel confident, take another practice test, grade it, and see if you’ve improved. If you have improved, that’s great; if you are still having trouble, then circle any questions you either were unsure of—and especially those you got wrong—to drill down what skills you need to further develop.

Related: Our Best Advice for Homework, Studying, and Tests

4. Create a study schedule

When you study, it’s important to break things up into easily digestible chunks for your brain to understand and memorize. The best thing to do is look at your current schedule, list out all your commitments, and look for gaps in availability. If you need to make space, then look at your commitments, rank them in order of importance, and consider cutting ones that aren’t essential to your overall success.

5. Study with high-quality materials

Contrary to popular belief, doing well on the SAT doesn’t just boil down to knowing a lot of math, reading, and writing skills. To score highly, you need to understand the actual test structure itself. The SAT operates through specific patterns you can use to your advantage. The trick is to learn how to take the SAT. To do that, you need to use the most accurate study materials available in order to realistically replicate the experience and avoid developing bad habits and incorrect skills. Fortunately, the College Board and other places like Prep Expert provide quality study materials that accurately replicate the test-taking experience.

Related: Understanding Standardized Tests and Scores

6. Use practice tests as warm-ups and progress reports

Taking the SAT is a significant commitment that requires a lot of work and study. You need to simulate test-taking conditions to be ready for the time constraints you’ll face. Realistic practice tests will train you on both the test’s format and develop your physical and mental stamina for every section. Take multiple practice tests during your prep cycle to measure how much or little your studying is affecting your potential test score.

7. Find a study group

Sometimes it’s too hard to do it all by yourself, and study groups can help you improve and stay motivated. If you’ve been working on improving scores or problem areas and hit the wall, then don’t be afraid to look for help from peers. Chances are you’re not the only person in your class taking the SAT, so take advantage of that and join a study group with other classmates.

8. Set yourself a test score goal

One way to help focus your studying and motivate yourself is defining a goal of the score you want to hit. If you’ve taken the test already, then you can assess your section scores, especially the sub-scores, and use them to create a realistic improvement goal. If you have specific schools in mind that you’d like to attend, look at their SAT score requirements as goals to hit for motivation.

9. Use your study skills to help manage stress and fear

Taking the SAT can be nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. When preparing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the test and pressured about failure. Don’t let that fear overtake you. Instead, when studying with practice tests, look at every wrong answer as a learning opportunity. If you miss a question, focus on why. Understand that insight and your entire study approach will be engaging rather than taxing.

Related: Time Management and Study Skills

10. Don’t cram for the SAT!

The SAT isn’t like your regular high school test; there’s too much information to know about the material and test format to shove into your brain at the last possible second. That’s why you absolutely need to set aside time and schedule well in advance before signing up for a test date. Setting aside one or two months of consistent prep time before a test is recommended for positive results. Your brain and nerves will thank you for it later.

Read the full post here, and find more SAT tips in our Test Prep section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Joseph Johnsly

Joseph Johnsly

High School Class of 2021

It's an honor for me to be writing to share a little about my experience with CollegeXpress. I've been using CollegeXpress for about a year now, and the reason why I chose it is because it provides astonishing scholarships for every student around the globe. Besides that, this organization dispenses all the information necessary to help students get to college. CollegeXpress has helped me have an easier experience with applying to colleges and choosing the best fit for myself.

Courtney Smith

Courtney Smith

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has been a huge help! The website is very organized with finding the right scholarship for anyone and anything. With CollegeXpress, I've been able to find many scholarship opportunities to apply for. Not only that, I'm also able to search for the colleges I have interest in and see what’s required and what scholarships they offer. I've learned a lot from CollegeXpress. They've helped me in many ways to achieve my goals!

Cameron Lee

Cameron Lee

High School Class of 2022

I used CollegeXpress to search for colleges. It helped me narrow down the schools on the West Coast and which schools had Construction Engineering programs. I made my decision to go to OSU and I am so excited about it.

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

High School Class of 2022

I wanted a school that wasn't too far away from home and could provide me with a full-ride scholarship. CollegeXpress helped me put into perspective the money I had to pay to attend those schools, which ultimately drove me to choose to attend a community college first to get used to being in college before transferring to the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, one of the colleges I was able to research further on CollegeXpress.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Gettysburg College

Gettysburg, PA

Gonzaga University

Spokane, WA