The Last-Ditch Effort to Raise Your SAT Score

Taking the SAT a second time in hopes of improving your score? The folks at Magoosh have some tips and tricks to help you succeed.

The time has come to take the SAT one more time before deadlines pass for college applications. One last big push to improve your score in your senior year to ensure that the letters you receive from schools in the spring say “accepted”—not “rejected.” At this point, you know your enemy, and you don’t wonder how hard the SAT is because you already know. But what are you going to do differently to succeed? What are you going to change to improve your score as you count down to the December test?

Following are a few tips from test prep website Magoosh to help ensure your last-ditch effort to improve your SAT score is successful.

Experience breeds confidence

Now that you’ve already taken the test, you have valuable experiences that will help you the next time you take the SAT. You understand all the administrative aspects surrounding the test—what to bring, breaks, administrative stuff, and the testing environment. You won’t be surprised by the test since you’ve already seen it in all its glory.

Although this may not seem like much, just the experience of taking the test can give you a confidence boost. And this confidence is just like a good night’s rest and a proper meal. It is the intangible aspect of test-taking that is often overlooked but absolutely affects performance. So even before you start your last-ditch effort to raise your score on the test, you are already in a better place than you were when you first took the test.

Engage in focused study

With at least one test experience to work from, you have a better sense of where you can improve. That is, you know your weaknesses, and you know your strengths. If you don’t, it’s time to take an honest look at your abilities and pinpoint the concepts that you struggle with. Whether it’s grammar concepts or math formulas, you need to spend your study time focused on attacking those weaknesses.

But don’t let your strengths wither. You’ll still want to spend some time reinforcing your strengths, keeping them strong for test day. Ultimately, you should use something like The Official SAT Study Guide to map out your days before the test, so you can dedicate a majority of your time to working on your weaknesses while periodically working on maintaining your strengths. You are in a great position to do well and improve your score. Take the steps to make it happen.

Make your practice perfect

When it comes to your practice, make it perfect. And I don’t mean get every question right. I mean that you need to mimic the test as much as possible when doing practice problems. Find a place to sit and study that is similar to what you had at the test. If you sat at a squeaky desk, find a squeaky desk to sit at. If your chair was uncomfortable, find an uncomfortable chair for your studies. Use a timer to keep track of time and work on pacing. Use scratch paper similar to the paper used to make the test book. Use a pencil, not a pen, for practice. The more perfect you can make the conditions, the more comfortable you will be on test day.

Stay relaxed and laugh

With little time left to raise your score, stress and anxiety are a real and scary factor that you must cope with. College applications are due soon. You worry about what a good SAT score is for your dream school and whether you’ll be able to improve your score enough to get in. This is your time to push your score just a little higher. It’s also your senior year, meaning you also have classes and all other manner of school activities to think about too. This can be a lot to stomach.

The cheapest and easiest way to relieve stress and relax is to make yourself laugh. I know that you have your ways, everyone does. So break from your studies and browse a funny sub-reddit, or if you feel yourself tightening up and stressing out, watch a video on Funny or Die. Whatever tickles your funny bone should be kept close at hand for stress relief.

The takeaway

You are more prepared than you think to succeed since you already  have the experience of taking the test. You know your weaknesses, so you know what to study. And you know how to study for the test. Finally, you know that you need to laugh and relax to make this final push really count. So get out there and start studying.

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


About Kevin Rocci

Kevin Rocci is a support tutor and the resident SAT expert at Magoosh, an online resource for GRE, GMAT, SAT, and TOEFL prep. For more advice on SAT prep, check out Magoosh’s SAT blog.


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
Mataya Mann

Mataya Mann

High School Class of 2022

To say that CollegeXpress is a helpful tool would be an understatement as it is much more than that. Before finding CollegeXpress, all I knew was that I wanted to go to college, it was going to be insanely expensive, and I felt lost. CollegeXpress has given me access to resources such as helpful tips for applications and scholarship [opportunities], and helped guide me in a direction where I feel confident moving forward and pursuing a career. CollegeXpress has helped instill a spark in me that makes me want to continue and supports me in doing so.



High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me by opening my eyes to new opportunities. I learned about such easy ways to get financial help to achieve my dreams while also learning about myself and who I truly am. I know this isn't a very long explanation of what CollegeXpress has done for me, but nonetheless, I believe it's crucial to how I developed as a person throughout my time as a college student.

Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

Ana Sophia Garcia-Cubas Assemat

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2020

CollegeXpress has been an instrumental resource for my scholarship search and has given me the opportunity to try my best so I can graduate from college debt-free.

Elizabeth Stafford

Elizabeth Stafford

High School Class of 2021

As a UK student moving to California due to my dad's job in the military, when I first signed up for CollegeXpress a few months ago, the college process ahead seemed daunting and incredibly stressful. That all changed after I started to explore what this website had to offer. Not only was I helped by the vast array of resources available to me, but through being a CollegeXpress member, there have been so many more benefits. There have been emails with college tips—all of which I found incredibly helpful—as well as invitations to events and notifications of scholarships that'll make college possible for me. Overall, I'm very grateful to CollegeXpress for all of these things and more. Not only have they helped me grow my understanding of the college process, but they've also helped me to grow as a person, giving me new skills that I can take with me through life.

Lydia Huth

Lydia Huth

Student, Campbell University; CollegeXpress Student Writer

I discovered CollegeXpress while embarking on my college search journey as an excited—but scared and way confused—high schooler without a counselor or college-bound sibling to give me advice. Let me tell you, I’m so glad that I stumbled on this community! CollegeXpress helped me find potential colleges and keep application deadlines straight. It gave me a great list of scholarships, and the blogs and emails made me feel like I wasn’t going it alone. Almost three years later and with freshman year of college down, I still love the CollegeXpress vibe so much that I’m writing for them. I’d recommend this site to anyone!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Millikin University

Decatur, IL

Fort Lewis College

Durango, CO