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How to Improve Your SAT Scores? An actionable guide to ace the SAT

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is an entrance examination for students to secure admissions in colleges and universities. Though SAT scores are now optional in several institutions, students are recommended to take SAT as it serves as useful evidence of academic achievement outside the context of your school.

Thus, how to improve SAT scores is understandably quite important for students. But to what extent can a student improve his/her scores? Well, that depends on a variety of factors, such as the amount of time you invest in studying, your learning techniques, determination, etc. But it is certainly possible for a student to achieve a solid improvement in SAT scores. Though it isn’t as easy as it sounds, a few tricks and tips can get you closer to the goal.

This article will discuss 8 actionable tips that every student can implement to increase SAT scores.

How to Improve Your SAT Scores?

The highest SAT score is 1600 and the minimum score is 400. The goal is not to get through somehow with minimum scores but to achieve an impressive score that will earn you an admission in the college of your choice. For any student keen to secure admission to competitive colleges, a good score really matters. While 1600 points may seem a bit too difficult, scoring above 1400 is an achievable feat. Listed below are a few tips that will help you ace the SAT game effortlessly.

1. Build your vocabulary

SAT has 3 sections namely Math, Reading and Writing. With reading and writing as compulsory sections in SAT, it is a given that the student needs to have an extensive vocabulary. Students’ language skills, their ability to express ideas, and knowledge of grammar are tested in the reading and writing sections. So undoubtedly reading is the best way to improve your command over the language. Look up words that seem difficult, understand the meaning and memorize them to make the most of your reading sessions. Take a look at the previous SAT tests and pay close attention to words that are repeated often in the tests. This will increase your chances of earning a higher score.

A practice material for the SAT Reading
Extensive vocabulary will help students with their SAT Reading and Writing sections

2. Rely on good study materials

It is important to use good study materials while you prepare for the SAT. There are a host of choices available for study materials both online and offline. If you have enrolled in a SAT preparation class, you will receive guidance on the best study materials from the tutors. If you are self-studying, there are several online sources with a comprehensive list of best SAT prep books for free. From test taking tips to practice questions, these materials will acquaint you with the test pattern so that you won’t be caught off guard during the exam. It is important to choose high quality professionally produced materials that contain SAT-specific tips and strategies. These materials will give you insights into the deeper nuances of SAT. The best study materials will enable you to have a strong grasp over the concepts and optimize your scores.

3. Understand the areas of improvement

If you are genuinely interested in improving your scores, you need to carefully examine the areas that need improvement. It is important to assess the nature of errors. Some errors may simply be an outcome of test anxiety whereas some errors reflect your lack of knowledge pertaining to a few concepts. Work on the errors that you are most susceptible to instead of blindly studying and revising over and over. Students must take practice tests and evaluate the results carefully. A thorough assessment will give a wealth of insights into the specific kind of errors.

4. Join a study group

Staying motivated throughout may seem like an uphill task, especially when one is preparing for the test all alone. Joining a study group can keep you motivated to achieve your SAT goals faster. It helps you get rid of procrastination and paves way for a healthy rivalry among students with common goals. You can learn from other students, share tips on effective learning techniques with each other and polish skills much faster than expected. Flipped learning is a technique that helps students reinforce their knowledge by having them discuss the subject during classes. Prestige Institute is a leading proponent of this teaching technique that offers abundant resource and opportunity for students to improve together as a group. Read on to understand what the flipped learning methodology is and how Prestige Institute employs it to give their students a competitive advantage.

A group of students studying for the SAT exam
Studying together as a group will help students maintain their motivation

5. Focus on improving scores for each section

As mentioned earlier, there are 3 sections: reading, writing and math section. You might need to employ different strategies to ace each of these sections.

How to improve SAT reading score?

The SAT reading section contains questions based on passages. While you may feel tempted to thoroughly go through each line of the passage, it isn’t actually necessary. Just focusing on parts of passages that contain answers to the questions would be enough. Skim through the passages, get a fair idea of the content, read the questions and go back to specific paragraphs that contain the answers. You can read the questions and circle relevant lines or words in the passages, so you know exactly where to search for the answer. You can answer easy questions first and keep the difficult ones for last. Make sure to keep track of time every now and then. Time yourself when practicing reading at home. Improve your reading speed by practicing difficult passages from newspapers or magazines.

How to improve the SAT writing score?

The first thing you need to do is brush up your grammar skills. You will need to insert punctuation marks in appropriate places, modify sentences to make it more crisp and apply other grammar rules during the test. It is important to avoid superfluous words when attempting questions that specifically emphasize on making sentences more concise. Again, there is no need to read each and every line in the passage. Focus on relevant sections and answer easy questions first.

Don’t leave questions blank. Guess even if you don’t know the right answer as there are no negative marks in SAT tests anymore. Beware of the ‘No Change’ choice that you may come across when attempting grammar questions. You may be asked if there is anything grammatically wrong with the sentence provided. If you are choosing the ‘No Change’ answer more than 25% of the time, it may be because you aren’t able to spot the errors. So, review each sentence carefully as chances are that there are minor errors hidden in the sentence.

How to improve SAT math score?

Be thorough with the concepts and formulas. Rigorous practice is the only thing that will help you pass the math section. Memorize formulas and be familiar with questions in each subsection. Prepare well with a timer so that you know time management. Another thing to bear in mind is using calculators only when needed. Don’t rely on calculators for extremely simple calculations. First solve all the problems and then bubble answers at the end. Juggling between solving questions and bubbling after every question can be extremely time consuming.

There are a few shortcuts too that you can apply for solving math problems. If you are asked to find the correct value from the choices given, you can simply insert the choices one by one in the equation and figure out the correct answer instead of solving the problems from scratch.

6. Make reading and writing a daily habit

Improving reading and writing SAT scores is definitely no easy game. Luckily, you can polish your reading and writing skills and improve scores by engaging in plenty of reading and writing exercises. Reading will expand your vocabulary, introduce you to new authors and writing styles. From novels and short stories to newspaper articles, movie reviews and scientific articles, acquaint yourself with different genres and writing styles. There are also book recommendations you can find online if you feel lost and overwhelmed. Once you cultivate the habit of reading, try to do some writing exercises. Summarize a novel you read in your own words, write a review of the movie you watched or simply put your thoughts into paper. Gradually, you will be able to ace grammar and write flawlessly. Compare your writing tasks and analyze the progress you have made with each passing day.

A girl reading a book on the bed
Daily reading and writing will improve the skills needed for SAT Reading and Writing sections

7. Change your mindset

Preparing for any exam is stressful and SAT is no exception to that. Scores will not improve overnight, and students usually get dejected when the scores aren’t what they expected. But this mindset is not going to lead you anywhere. Staying positive is as important as working hard. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, no amount of effort will lead to success. Set a schedule and strictly follow it without fail. Take practice tests, work on your weaknesses and channelize your energy into improving yourself instead of fretting over low scores. A positive mindset and attitude can make a world of difference. At the same time, don’t put yourself under too much pressure. Take breaks in between and always study with a fresh mind.

8. Take a full-length SAT practice test

Taking a full-length practice test is the best way to ensure you are fully prepared for the exam. Once you are thorough with all the sections, take a practice test under testing conditions similar to that of the actual exam. Avoid distractions and approach the practice test with the same seriousness so you will be better prepared to deal with anxiety and stress usually experienced by most students during exams. Take practice tests often and evaluate if you are able to finish on time. Train yourself to attempt each question with absolute focus. SAT tests are not just about writing correct answers. It tests your knowledge, time management skills and ability to focus and a practice test will ensure you manage all aspects of it well.

Final Thoughts

While some may argue that SAT scores are not that important now as the pandemic changed the admission criteria for colleges, it is still a useful data point to comprehend the student’s capabilities. Acing the SAT exam is not a Herculean task. Following the above-mentioned techniques can inculcate good study habits and increase your prospects of scoring high points.

Most students struggle with low scores either due to lack of motivation or lack of guidance on the ideal way to prepare for the SAT.

Enrolling in a SAT preparation class can give that extra push and encouragement to students. With tons of test preparation institutes, choosing the right one may seem daunting. There are several coaching institutes that give lifetime access to study materials, but these may not be the ideal options for students. Test preparation is best done when students go through an interactive learning process rather than a passive mode of learning. A flipped learning approach that enables interaction with tutors and peers coupled with constant monitoring can boost a student’s interest in learning.

Prestige Institute is a pioneer in coaching students through flipped learning. While most online test preparation platforms give students lifetime access to study materials, we make sure the access is limited to just 5 weeks. This is to ensure that students complete their sessions within a stipulated time rather than procrastinating it for a later date. Students get to interact with tutors and be a part of a study group motivated by the same goal. This maximizes engagement and knowledge retention, and students learn and grasp quickly compared to other learning techniques. Need professional guidance from experts with industry knowledge? Contact us today for an effective learning experience. Your admission to your dream college is just one call away!


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