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How to Improve Your SAT Score in 6 Steps

Not everyone is satisfied with their SAT score on their first go. But rest assured – you still have multiple opportunities to improve your SAT score. If you approach it strategically, you should be able to improve your SAT score by learning from your strengths and weaknesses. Let’s get into how to improve your SAT scores!

1. Focus on what you don’t know

Remember as you study that getting something wrong is one of the best ways to learn. Some students might find it difficult to continue to dig into the subject matter that challenges them the most. It may be tempting to do practice problems in your strongest fields, and this might make you walk away with the most confidence in yourself. But when test day comes around, you’ll be better off if you spent time digging into the difficult problems.

So, instead of feeling frustrated when you mess up a problem, you should congratulate yourself. You just learned something and potentially improved your score! This is not to say that you shouldn’t devote time to reviewing your strong subjects. It’s a good idea to remain confident in these fields and ensure that you can complete them within the SAT time constraints as well!

Also read: Average SAT score by state

2. Design a program and stick to it

The SAT is a huge test! Therefore, the best way to tackle the task is to break it down and create a program for yourself. If you sit down and try to study for the entire SAT in one sitting, you’ll never make any progress. You should make a weekly or daily plan to break down the subject matter for yourself. By giving yourself constraints and guidelines, you’ll be better equipped to actually learn about each subject.

Although it’s important to stick to your program, you should also remain flexible. If you find that you no longer need to spend two weeks on one subject, you can move onto the next. On the flipside, if you need more time on a subject, you should allow yourself to take it. The program helps you to stay organized and study continually, but it can always be changed to help optimize your score.

3. Hire a tutor or ask friends and family for help

A great way to keep yourself motivated and to get feedback is to get help studying. This can take many forms; you can get a test prep tutor who specializes in SAT tests. A more affordable option is to take group classes, such as Kaplan test prep classes. These opportunities are very valuable because your teachers will know the SAT like the back of their hand. They’ll know the ins and outs and not only teach you the subject matter, but how to take the test.

Some students might not have the financial resources to hire someone for help. In cases like this, it’s a great idea to reach out to friends and family for help. Even if they are not as well-trained in the SAT, they can be very helpful. Humans learn better by talking their questions out with other people. It can help you to retain skills more easily. 

4. Take practice tests

Practice tests have a myriad of benefits to help you improve your SAT score. They help familiarize you with the material, and you can use the results to understand what you do and what you don’t know. But beyond this, they accustom you to the rhythm of the test. You’ll improve your time and learn to answer the types of questions they ask.

So, practice tests can not only help focus your studying and practice the material, but it also helps you learn about the unique form in which the test is written. It’s hard to overstate how important practice tests are to your performance, especially now since the SAT has gone digital. Taking an online practice test will help acquaint you with this new format. Remember, you can take practice tests piece-by-piece if the full 2 hour and 15 minute test seems overwhelming. 

Related: Top 10 tips for reducing test anxiety

5. Utilize online resources

Don’t forget that there is a wide spread of online resources at your disposal to improve your SAT performance. We recommend Khan Academy’s SAT prep program. Not only is this program free, but it was developed in partnership with the College Board, which speaks to its accuracy to what is on the test. Khan Academy is one of the first names in online education, and they are well-known for breaking down subject matter in a digestible and helpful manner. In addition to Khan Academy there is also a plethora of other free SAT resources out there as well!

Taking online tests will also be a great way to prepare for the new digital format of the SAT. You’ve probably taken online tests by this point in your education, but it’s still important to practice specifically for the SAT. Try taking a full length test to see how your eyes feel and if you have any difficulty sitting in front of a computer for that long. 

6. Remember to keep up with your coursework

If you’re working on how to improve your SAT scores, you know it is an important task, and it can take a lot of work. But remember to balance it well with your coursework and extracurriculars! Colleges are increasingly turning more towards alternate metrics to make admissions decisions. You won’t be helping your college chances if you drop your GPA or discontinue extracurriculars just to bump your SAT up a few points. And beyond that, you’ll be missing out on the fun experience of high school. Make sure not to get too lost in the process of studying for the SAT!

Also see: Advice for low test takers

Next Steps

Next Steps

  • Study the topics you aren’t confident in
  • Design a study program and stick to it
  • Get study help, whether it is from a tutor, a friend, or family member
  • Take online practice tests
  • Utilize online resources
  • Remember to keep up with other responsibilities
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Frequently asked questions about how to improve your SAT score

Can you improve your SAT score by 400 points?

Unfortunately, improving your score by 400 points, while possible, is not entirely realistic. Jumping 400 points on the SAT is a lot, especially if you already received a decent score that first go around. Make sure that you make realistic goals when you are studying to retake the SAT.

How can you improve your SAT score by 100 points?

Improving your score by 100 points is an ambitious goal. It is possible, but it will certainly take a good amount of studying and dedication. If you want to improve your score by this much, you should give yourself a good amount of time to prepare. You’ll certainly need more than just a few weeks. During the time leading up to your test, be sure to follow some of the tips from the article above. Focus on your problem areas and stick to a study plan!

What is the average improvement on the SAT retake?

The average student who retakes the SAT improves by around 90 points. This isn’t to say that you can’t improve by more, but it does give you a general idea of what improvement might look like. If your initial score was on the lower side, you might see an even more robust improvement!