How to Study for the SAT

Elizabeth de la Torre

The best “how to study tip” is too start studying way in advance.

It’s time to re-look at all the tips on how to study for the SAT efficiently!

Perhaps you’ve previously taken the PSAT, which is basically a shortened version of the SAT. Or maybe you’ve even taken a class centered on preparing for the SAT. Either way, it’s important to develop proper study habits. There is no “how to study” book or session that can 100% meet your needs. You need to experiment and try different things before you develop your “how to study” methods.

Rule number one on how to study for the SAT is to start studying way in advance. Do not underestimate the SAT! The spontaneity of the questions on the SAT leaves room for mistakes.


First of all, why is the SAT so important to take?

The SAT is a globally recognized test used for college admissions. Questions on the SAT are designed to show off the knowledge you’ve learned through school and how well you can apply that knowledge. Some colleges put more weight on the SAT score than others. Ivy League schools, for example, put a lot of weight on your score while Cal state universities require that all their students achieve a minimum score to apply. Thus, the SAT is in fact one huge determinant of what colleges you will be accepted to.

Yet, it’s always important not to forget that SAT scores are just one of many factors colleges consider in their admission decisions. High school grades are the other determinant in being accepted. In fact, the combination of high school grades and your SAT score is the best predictor of your academic success in college.


What will you be tested on? 

The subject areas on the SAT include reading, writing, and math. Currently there are three major sections of the SAT. The max score of each section is 800.

YES, you can retake the test! Colleges will accept the better of your scores to be submitted in your applications. However, don’t go crazy! It is recommended not to retake the test more than three times. The test is administered seven times per year and costs $50 to take. Also, for some it may be too long to keep retaking as it is currently a test that requiring 3 hours and 45 minutes of your life!


Don’t cram for the SAT

How to study for it? 

In between all the things you already need to do, studying for the SAT is important to start way in advance before your test date. You want plenty of time to review all your high school notes! A common mistake that students make is that they underestimate the difficulty of the test while overestimating their memory of old skills they learned through high school. The SAT test is a cumulative test on everything that you’ve learned in high school. Thus, as a senior taking the SAT test you might not remember the simple skills that you learned as a freshman. Things such as multiplying or dividing fractions and understanding probability word problems may have escaped your mind since you don’t use those skills anymore in your higher math classes. Simply skills you once knew as a freshman may need to be reviewed before you take it as a senior.

Also, a “how to study” tip you mustn’t forget for life is to always plan to study efficiently! Get a hold of practice questions or the PSAT and review those. Whatever types of problems you feel you need to review, focus on those. Aimlessly reviewing your old textbooks is not efficient use of your valuable time.

Do not try to cram any studying or reviewing the night before! You will just overwhelm yourself with material and perhaps even become hopeless.

Don’t forget that each section is timed too. Thus, simply knowing how to do a problem isn’t enough. You’ll need to be able to work fast on problems and exercise good judgment. Skip the problems that you have no hope of understanding and answer the ones you can do.

Another important “how to study” tip to follow is getting a lot of sleep prior to the test. A healthy breakfast and a nice sleep will ensure your mind works 100% for the test. Any “how to study” book or special class will tell you the importance of sleep and breakfast before you test. The danger comes in being so tired that your mind can’t function or remember things you need for the test.

For complete tips on how to study for the SAT, refer to the College Board website.


Elizabeth de la Torre

Author Elizabeth de la Torre

More posts by Elizabeth de la Torre