Come fall season, millions of students start doubling down on their preparations for the SAT exam to bag a seat in top colleges or universities in the US, Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore, or Canada. However, most of them are often confused about how to start SAT preparations or what strategies to adopt to pass the exam with flying colours and, of course, scores to brag about.
So, to make it easier for such students, we’re writing this blog intending to provide top tips on how to prepare for the SAT exam strategically. However, before we move on to the top tips, students need to know all the ins and outs of the SAT exam.
What is SAT?
Every year, about 3 million students at nearly 7000 centers in over 170 countries take the 95-year old Scholastic Assessment Test or SAT exam. Candidates are tested for skills such as reading comprehension, computational ability, and clarity of expression.
The overall scores achieved in the exam reflect how skilled students are and help them get admissions to several global colleges. American students planning to study in countries such as the UK, Australia, or Canada are also required to sit for the SAT exam.
The College Board conducts the SAT examinations in pen and paper format seven times a year, offering enough opportunities for candidates to improve their fate-deciding SAT scores.
SAT Exam format
The SAT exam has four sections, along with an optional essay section. In total, the paper has 154 questions and an essay. The maximum marks a student can score in the three-hour-long exam is 1600.
Here’s a complete breakdown of all the sections of the SAT exam
|Section||Number of questions||Time (Minutes)|
|Writing and Language||44||35|
|Math No Calculator||20||25|
|Total:||154 (+1 optional essay)||3 hours (3 hours 50 mins with essay)|
Most of the questions in the SAT are multiple-choice, barring five in the Math No-Calculator section, while eight in Math Calculator are asked in the grid-in format. Candidates are given 1 point for each correct answer and lose ¼ of a point for each question wrong while they are awarded zero points for skipping.
A five-minute break after every hour is provided to candidates, which means that there will be two breaks in the SAT exam: One at the end of the Reading section and the second one at the end of Math No Calculator. Students attempting the essay section get an extra 5-minute break before penning it down.
SAT Exam Preparation
Since you must have got a fair idea of what the SAT exam is all about, it’s time we discuss the strategies using which you can give wings to SAT preparations. Since SAT exam comprises of various sections, experts and tutors have recommended different methods for different sections.
Section-wise Preparation For SAT Exam
The various sections of the SAT exam take a test of different skills comprehended by students in their schooling. Each section has a distinct pattern and type of questions. Therefore, candidates need to familiarise themselves with each section. Preparing for each section is, therefore, a prevalent strategy.
How to Prepare for SAT Reading Section
Featuring the most number of questions, the reading section is one of the highest-scoring areas in the SAT exam. Candidates have to read a 3000-word long passage to answer 52 questions in 65 minutes, which means that the section requires them to be on their turbo mode.
To strategically prepare for the SAT Reading section, candidates need to read a lot, as one cannot expect a topic they had studied to appear in the exam. Students can sharpen their reading skills by going through time-based mock tests. This will also help them in time management — one of the most crucial aspects of the reading section in the SAT exam.
How to Prepare for SAT Writing and Language Section
The Writing and Language Section in the SAT tests candidates four skills – Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, and Standard English Conventions – at once. Here’s what they mean:
Command of Evidence in SAT Writing and Language Section
Command of Evidence basically means the ability to find evidence in the passage to back the author’s idea with accurate details and improve the way information is provided. Candidates can master the skill by improving the structure of passages during their SAT preparations.
Words in Context in SAT Writing and Language Section
Putting ‘Words in Context’ means, as the name suggests, is the skill using which one aligns words to bring the best meaning to a passage, improve its tone, and make it easier to read.
Again, candidates need to read a lot of quality literature to understand sentence formation and passage styling and improve their vocabulary of loquacious words.
Expression of Ideas in SAT Writing and Language Section
Expression of Ideas is the ability to organise and express ideas in a clear and concise manner. Aspirants are marked for using the right words to convey a clear meaning of the passage. For improving the Expression of Ideas, candidates need to learn new words that fit the bill in the passages.
Standard English Conventions in SAT Writing and Language Section
Knowledge of Standard English Conventions means that candidates are well versed with the laws and principles of grammar. SAT exam indeed tests the grammar of the candidates. For bettering grammar, candidates can always pick up their old books to polish them up.
How to Prepare for SAT Math Sections
In the SAT exam, the Math section is divided into the 3rd and the 4th sections. The 3rd section, the Math No-Calculator section, is a 25-minute test wherein candidates cannot use a calculator. However, students taking SAT can use a calculator in the 4th Math Calculator section.
The 3rd and 4th sections comprise three major areas: Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, and Problem Solving and Data Analysis.
Here’s a breakup of topics under these three areas:
|Three Major Areas||Topics|
|Heart of Algebra||Linear equations, systems of linear equations, linear functions|
|Passport to Advanced Math||Quadratic equations and expressions, manipulating polynomials, exponents and radicals, exponential equations, zeros and factors, functions, variables of interest|
|Problem Solving and Data Analysis||Ratios, percentages, unit conversion and unit rate, lines of best fit, relationships between variables, Statistics|
So, how can one strategically prepare for SAT maths? Well, maths, irrespective of the paper, requires practice and more practice to master. That can only be done if you have already learned all the formulas by heart.
Candidates also need to practice as many questions to improve their speed and experiment with various methods to find the one that suits them. They can also do away with the calculator for basic calculations to boost their speed.
How to prepare for SAT Essay section
During SAT exam preparations, candidates tend to take the Essay section lightly, often losing marks where they could have bagged more. They can master essay writing by learning how to make a clear argument to grip a reader’s attention. For this, students need to learn how to deep dive into the central theme of the passage while writing it. Of course, it takes time. But candidates can learn it by sharpening their grammar and command of the language.
SAT Exam Preparation Strategies For All Sections
1. Candidates need to find their week spots early on while preparing for SAT to improve their grip on them ahead of the exam.
2. One of the most important things to do before starting preparations is to set a score goal in mind. Based on the target, candidates need to start their preparations for SAT.
3. Students should make a study schedule or timetable to catch up with all the sections and practising questions before the exam day.
4. Since multiple-choice questions dominate in the SAT exam, candidates should learn the best strategies for approaching MCQs to save time and improve their scores.
5. Practice not just makes a man perfect but also helps students in improving their marks in the SAT exam. So, practice as many questions as you want ahead of the paper, especially the math ones.
6. Taking full SAT practise tests at regular intervals also helps candidates understand how their preparations for the exam are going on. Marks achieved in mock tests give an overview of weak and strong sections of the candidates as well.
7. Devising your own learning is one of the most effective strategies to bag the top percentile in SAT. Plugin SPTR here.
8. Students can also purchase SAT preparation books to give a supplementary boost to academics-based preparations.
9. Aspiring candidates also shouldn’t shy away from using free resources for SAT preparations. For instance, Khan Academy provides one of the best online free SAT preparation classes.
10. Candidates should consider giving up social media or minimising their online presence to improve their focus and dedication to SAT preparations.
Now that you have read all the tips and strategies, it’s time to roll up your sleeves for SAT exam preparations. You can start by chalking out a schedule, followed by gathering resources for the competitive paper. Moreover, if you fail to score good marks on the first attempt, don’t worry, you’ve multiple attempts, my friend! We know that with the right mindset and preparations, there’s no stopping you. All the best!
Frequently asked Questions
Q1. What does SAT mean?
The SAT is a common admission exam for high school students planning to attend college following graduation. The exam focuses on what you’ve learned in high school and what you’ll have to understand in college.
Q2. What is the best way to study for the SAT Reading Test?
Some of the major preparation strategies you may take to study for the SAT Reading Test include reading many books, preferably by American authors, to enhance your knowledge and comprehension of words or phrases, as well as improving your capacity to draw inferences from short passages.
Q3. What are good basic strategies for preparing for the SAT?
Attempting practise papers from the College Board, and other trustworthy sites is among the most crucial SAT preparation strategies and techniques. This will allow you to evaluate your abilities and understanding in many areas, as well as make strategies to enhance your SAT results.
Q4. What if I don’t have sufficient time to study for the SAT?
Checking up on several key areas, particularly mathematical understanding, will enable you to boost your SAT score. You may also try to practise study material or test papers to have a better idea of the types of questions and answers to anticipate. Trying the study material will also assist you in determining which themes in part are more important than others.
Q5. How can I increase my pace so that I can finish the SAT test on time?
If you want to increase your pace on the SAT, the easiest way to do it is to record yourself when taking practise tests.
Q6. How can I practice for the SAT Mathematics section?
Attempting as many practise papers as practicable, emphasizing problem-solving approaches, algebraic procedures, and so on, is an effective methodology for studying for the SAT Mathematics exam.
Q7. What can I do to improve my SAT score?
Some of the strategies to study for the SAT include a complete knowledge and reading of the questionnaire, tackling simpler problems initially, and taking sample papers and practise papers.
Q8. Who is eligible to take the SAT?
Anyone applying to a college or university undergraduate programme, as well as scholarship or other programmes that need SAT scores as an element of their application procedure, can take the SAT.
Q9. What is an acceptable SAT score?
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math are the two major sections of the SAT test. For every accurate solution in both portions, you can get one point. Each of the two portions is graded on a scale of 200 to 800, resulting in an overall result of 400-1600 for both parts. This implies that the maximum SAT score you may achieve is 1600.
Q10. Is the cost of the SAT exam tax deductible?
The cost of college admission examinations like the ACT and SAT is not tax deductible.