Why Should I Develop a Study Plan for the SAT?
Studying for the SAT is quite the process— hours and hours spent reading and solving math problems, only to feel like your brain has absorbed nothing. Developing a study plan will make your studying experience easier, shorter, and overall, more efficient. Follow the tips shared below to create the perfect study plan for you!
Step 1: Set a Goal
The first step in starting your SAT journey is to determine your target score. Your “target score” should be the score that will give you the highest chances of being admitted into your desired schools. Conduct some research as to what the 75th percentile score of admitted applicants is for every school you are interested in. Your target score will be the highest of the 75th percentile scores in all the schools you have looked at.
Step 2: Figure Out Where You’re Starting
In order to begin your studying process, you must figure out your starting point. Whether you score worse or better than expected, having a starting point will make it easier to determine how much you will need to study. You can determine your starting point by taking a practice test online or in a prep book. The College Board provides 10 practice tests on its website, in which you can also score yourself.
Step 3: Determine How Much You’ll Need to Study
The next step is to establish the number of hours you will need to study in order to reach your target score. To do this, find the difference between your target score and your starting score. Now, using the difference and the list below, determine the approximate time you will need to study. Remember, this is only an approximation, and study times will vary. The greater the difference, the more hours you will need to study.
For 0-30 point improvement, study 10-12 hours
For 30-70 point improvement, study 20-22 hours
For 70-130 point improvement, study 40-45 hours
For 130-200 point improvement, study 80-85 hours
For 200-330 point improvement, study 150 hours or more
Step 4: Develop a Study Plan
To begin without a plan is to set yourself up for feelings of frustration, aggravation, and exasperation. To avoid feeling like this, create a study plan that will encourage you to study, not lead you away from your prep books. Keep in mind, the best study plan is the plan that works best for you. We all work at different paces and in different ways, so try to curate a plan that you will find easy to adhere to. If you’re in need of some ideas, here is a sample plan.
Low-Intensity 3-Month Plan
The following plan is ideal for those who are looking to increase their starting score by 70 to 130 points. This plan is a bit more relaxed than the next, as it only requires about 40 hours of studying in total. In the next 12 weeks, you’ll alternate between reading, writing, and math until you are fully prepared for your SAT.
Week 1: Take your first practice test
Week 2: Review your answers from Week 1
Week 3: Familiarize yourself with the Reading section - This week, you should continue answering practice questions, as to get used to the formatting of the questions. As you go through the passages, you will naturally develop a strategy for solving the questions— take note of these strategies. Through trial and error, you will eventually end up with the method that works best for you. This can include the order of the passages you read, the order of the questions you answer, your “letter of the day” (the answer you choose when you’re stuck on a problem), and more.
Week 4: Familiarize yourself with the Writing section - Like the Reading section, you should spend time looking over practice problems and familiarize yourself with the types of questions in this section. The Writing section consists of similar types of questions, so once you master a skill, you will continue to get questions of the same type right. Your Writing skills can be improved by reviewing sentence construction, conciseness, punctuation, and main idea.
Week 5: Familiarize yourself with the Math section - The best way to nail the Math section on the SAT is to practice, practice, practice. As you continue to solve problems, you’ll see that there are certain problems that appear every time, just like the Writing section. Because of this, it’s important to review every question you miss thoroughly, as a similar problem may appear on the next test.
Week 6: Continue reviewing the Reading section
Week 7: Continue reviewing the Writing section
Week 8: Continue reviewing the Math section
Week 9: Take another practice test to check on your progress
Week 10: Review your answers from Week 9
Week 11: Continue drilling difficult topics
Week 12: Review as needed - The week of the test should be reserved for specific review, meaning you should spend your time reviewing the concepts that you struggle most with. This week should be relaxed compared to the prior weeks, as your brain needs time to rest. The day leading up to the test and the day of the test should definitely not be spent studying— take time to rest!
Step 5: Gather Your Supplies
Preparing the right materials is half the battle. From flashcards for vocabulary terms to prep books to College Board’s official practice tests, make sure you have all the necessary materials in close proximity, so your studying sessions can run smoothly. Here are some suggested supplies:
> College Board’s website - includes official practice tests and practice questions
> The Official SAT Study Guide - the official SAT prep book > College Board-approved calculator (find one here!)
> A notebook to record your missed questions and explanations
Step 6: Start Studying and Keep Studying!
Preparing for the SAT is an uphill battle: it undoubtedly takes time and effort to reach your desired score. By making a consistent routine out of studying, you’re sure to make your SAT dreams a reality. Good luck to all the studiers out there!
Where Do I Start?
Now you know how to create your study plan, it's time for some action. Find out your current SAT score by taking a free level test.
Once you have figured out your target score and study hours, get help from our SAT Self-Paced Course to plan your schedule in context of the actual study contents.