How to Build Your SAT Study Plan

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Updated:
February 16, 2024
9 min read
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 2/16/24

Are you getting ready to write your SATs? Read on to learn how to create the best SAT study plan to optimize your performance. 

When it comes to college admissions, studying for and writing the SAT can be nerve-wracking as it’s one of many significant baselines prospective colleges use to assess your application. 

While it may seem daunting, don't fret - with the proper preparation, you can conquer the SAT. With good study habits and sticking to a comprehensive study plan, you’ll be sure to ace your SAT with flying colors.

To learn more about building your SAT study schedule, read on!

What is the SAT?

The SAT is a three-hour, multiple-choice test that evaluates grade 12 students' math, reading, and writing skills. Alongside grades, the score one receives on the SAT accompanies their college application and can be the deciding factor determining an acceptance into a prospective college.

On the SAT, you'll find two sections - a Math Section and an Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Test. The Math section is split into two sections; one where you may use a calculator and one where you may not. 

Here is a breakdown of the sections you will have to study for on the SAT:

Section Number of Questions Time Time Per Question Subscores
Reading 52 65 Minutes 75 Seconds Command of Evidence, Words in Context
Writing and Language
44
35 Minutes 48 Seconds Expression of Ideas, Standard English Conventions, Command of Evidence, Words in Context
Math (No Calculator)

20
25 Minutes 75 Seconds Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math
Math (Calculator)
38
55 Minutes 87 Seconds Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math
Total 154 3 hours N/A N/A

Source: What is the SAT? 

The best plan of attack when writing your SAT is to spend an extended period studying for it but breaking it up into subsections. Following a study plan and schedule is essential, as you’ll want to start studying as early as six months before your scheduled test date. We'll explain in detail below.

SAT Schedule Benefits

Building an SAT schedule helps you prepare diligently for the exam. It also has many potential benefits to make your life easier when navigating the test. Some of the benefits include:

  • Keep things organized: A study schedule keeps you organized and laser-focused on the parts of the SAT where you want to focus. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size of SAT prep, it breaks it down into bite-sized pieces, making it a breeze to see how far you've come!
  • Improves efficiency: When you have a study schedule, it helps you use your study time wisely, spreading it out across all the SAT sections. 
  • Helps with consistency: Unlike last-minute cramming, a study schedule encourages you to practice regularly. This consistent practice strengthens your understanding and helps you remember information more effectively.
  • Reduces stress: When you've got a solid plan mapped out, it's like having a compass guiding you through the SAT prep journey, easing any worries or doubts. Sticking to a structured study schedule means you're paving the path toward your best performance on test day. 

Overall, a well-organized SAT study schedule maximizes your preparation efforts, boosts your confidence, and increases your chances of achieving your target score on the exam.

How to Build Your SAT Study Plan

Having an effective SAT study plan is your secret weapon when it comes to acing your SAT. Tailoring your study plan to your lifestyle and schedule will allow you to put in the time and discipline you need to earn a desirable SAT score. 

But how do you build the perfect SAT plan? We’ve provided some insights below.

1. Understand What’s on the SAT 

One of the most important things you can do before beginning the process of studying for the SAT is to understand what types of questions you’ll be expected to answer. 

That's right - not only should you study the correct answers to the SAT, but you should study the questions themselves. This will guarantee that you understand the question clearly and can provide the best possible answer.  

You can start by researching practice tests and practice questions to see what the test entails. This way, there will be no surprises when your test date comes around. 

The SAT questions don’t change all that much from year to year. With this said the subject matter remains the same. So, the more versions of an SAT practice test you study, the better you’ll be able to grasp the material!

2. Understand How You Study

When preparing for the SAT, you’ll want to evaluate your personal study skills as this determines your level of problem-solving. Think about if you work best in a study group or in an environment where you can problem solve out loud, or if you find it easier to study alone.

As part of the comprehension process, set realistic and achievable goals for your study sessions. Break down your study plan into manageable tasks, focusing on specific content areas and skills that may require improvement.

Once you’ve understood your study process, you’ll set yourself up for success by providing the right learning environment for your SAT study plan.

3. Evaluate Your Skills Beforehand

Nobody knows your strengths and weaknesses better than you do. When creating your SAT study plan, It's important to understand these so you can designate the appropriate time to study and strengthen your skills. The best way to do this is to take a PSAT or a mock test. 

Writing a PSAT will give you a generalized idea of what sections of the test come naturally to you and which ones you need to spend more time working on. This way, you can tailor your SAT study plan to put more effort into the subjects you find challenging while reinforcing your strengths.

For example, if math is something you find challenging, you may struggle with both math sections on the SAT. When you self-test, you can target areas of weakness and spend more time studying math questions to answer the questions smoothly on the SAT.

Once you finish writing your PSAT, evaluate your score and make a note of it - you'll want to compare scores each time you write the PSAT to see if you're improving.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

The key to a successful SAT score depends on how much time you've spent practicing. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a stellar SAT score!

It is recommended that you start studying for the SAT as early as six months - that way, you'll have a great understanding of what to expect. The goal is to improve with practice, so make sure you understand the incorrect answers. 

The recommended time frame to study for the SAT is six months, but if you’re running out of time, you’ll have to adjust your study schedule and spend more hours studying per week.

Running out of time while taking a test is a situation you definitely want to avoid, especially on the day of your SAT. Therefore, it's crucial to invest time and effort in practicing for the test.

Practicing for the SAT not only improves the quality of your answers but also encourages your ability to respond quickly and efficiently. This, in turn, allows you more time to review and double-check your answers once you've completed the test.

Ultimately, there's no such thing as studying too much for the SAT. The key is to maximize the effectiveness of your study time. By following a structured study plan, you can strategically allocate your time to cover all relevant content, regularly assess your progress, and gradually build the skills needed to excel on the exam.

SAT Study Schedules

Now that we’ve covered how you can optimize your SAT prep, we’ll go over different ways you can schedule your SAT study time. Here, you’ll see how to break down your time depending on when you start studying.

1-Month SAT Study Schedule

Get A Free Version Of Our 1-Month SAT Study Schedule

A 1 monthly SAT study schedule will only give you a small window to write untimed practice tests. With this time constraint in mind, you'll have to study strategically - focusing on answering study questions under a strict time limit while focusing on your weakest points. 

1-Month SAT Study Schedule

A monthly SAT study schedule will only give you a small window to write untimed practice tests. With this time constraint in mind, you'll have to study strategically - focusing on answering study questions under a strict time limit while focusing on your weakest points. 

One Month Before the Test

  • Focus on English (Standard English Conventions): Ch 1, 2, 7, and 8.
  • Begin practicing consistently, emphasizing the identified topics.
  • Research SAT format and question types.

3-2 Weeks Before the Test

  • Focus on Math (Heart of Algebra): Ch 11, 12, 13, and 14.
  • Focus on Reading (Fundamental Strategy): Ch 3 and 4.
  • Take the first practice test to assess skills.
  • Evaluate which segments of the SAT require more focus and review accordingly.
  • English (Expression of Ideas): Ch 9.
  • Begin practicing timed sections, focusing on challenging questions.
  • Refine answers to ensure factual correctness and quick response.
  • Focus on one different section each day of the week, and try to use memorization techniques to help remember answers that aren't sticking.
  • Study up until the day before the test. Use the day before the test to give your mind a break.

1 Week Before the Test

  • Math (Passport to Advanced Math): Ch 15 and 16.
  • Reading (Advanced Strategies): Ch 5 and 6.
  • English (Punctuation): Ch 10.
  • Math (Additional Topics): Ch 17 and 18.
  • Time practice sessions for each section, focusing on improvement.
  • Complete a comprehensive timed practice SAT on Saturdays.
  • Take timed practice tests, reviewing all information and focusing on areas of improvement.
  • Avoid studying the day before the SAT to allow for mental rest.

3-Month SAT Study Schedule

Get A Free Version Of Our 3-Month SAT Study Schedule

A 3-month SAT study schedule will give you more time to zero in on your strengths and weaknesses and dedicate time specifically to the questions and most challenging sections. Practicing consistently during this period will ensure the best results!

Three Months Before the Test

  • Focus on English (Standard English Conventions): Ch 1, 2, 7 and 8
  • Focus on Math (Heart of Algebra): Ch 11, 12, 13, and 14
  • Focus on Reading (Fundamental Strategy): Ch 3 and 4
  • Research the format and read up on the type of questions offered on the SAT
  • Begin to take practice tests to assess skills
  • Once the first practice test has been taken, evaluate which segments of the SAT require more focus and make a point to review these questions and answers.

Two Months Before the Test

  • English (Expression of Ideas): Ch 9
  • Week 6: Math (Passport to Advanced Math): Ch 15 and 16
  • Continue practice tests, reviewing difficult sections.
  • Start untimed practice sessions for each subject.
  • Take a maximum of two timed practice tests, ideally on Saturdays.

1 Month - 2 Weeks Before the Test

  • Week 7: Reading (Advanced Strategies): Ch 5 and 6
  • Week 9: English (Punctuation): Ch 10
  • Math (Additional Topics): Ch 17 and 18
  • Time practice sessions for each section, focusing on improvement.
  • Complete a comprehensive timed practice SAT on Saturdays.

1 Week Before the Test

  • Take timed practice tests and review all information, focusing on areas of improvement.
  • Avoid studying the day before the SAT to allow for mental rest.

6-Month SAT Study Schedule

Get A Free Version Of Our 6-Month SAT Study Schedule

A 6-month SAT study schedule is the recommended amount of time to get a good understanding of the SAT without experiencing study fatigue. You will have enough time to fully grasp the SAT at your own pace by doing practice tests and get used to writing answers quickly and efficiently when you start completing timed practice tests.

6 Months Before the Test

  • Focus on English (Standard English Conventions): Ch 1, 2, 7, and 8.
  • Begin consistent practice with an emphasis on identified areas.
  • Research SAT format and question types.
  • Take one untimed practice test per week.

5 Months Before the Test

  • Focus on Math (Heart of Algebra): Ch 11, 12, 13, and 14.
  • Focus on Reading (Fundamental Strategy): Ch 3 and 4.
  • Take a practice test to assess skills.
  • Evaluate which segments of the SAT require more focus and review accordingly.
  • English (Expression of Ideas): Ch 9.

4 Months Before the Test

  • Math (Passport to Advanced Math): Ch 15 and 16.
  • Continue consistent practice, emphasizing weak areas.
  • Begin untimed practice sessions for each subject.
  • Take a maximum of two timed practice tests, ideally on Saturdays.

3 Months Before the Test

  • Reading (Advanced Strategies): Ch 5 and 6.
  • English (Punctuation): Ch 10.
  • Math (Additional Topics): Ch 17 and 18.
  • Take one timed practice test per week, aiming for faster completion.
  • Increase study frequency to twice a week.
  • Prioritize challenging sections, ensuring deep understanding.

2 Months Before the Test

  • Time practice sessions for each section, focusing on improvement.
  • Complete a comprehensive timed practice SAT on Saturdays.
  • Review and consolidate knowledge, focusing on improving accuracy.

1 Month Before the Test

  • Study daily, focusing on a different section each day.
  • Take timed practice tests twice a week, emphasizing time management.

1 Week Before Test

  • Review sections, prioritize challenging ones, and take two more timed practice tests.
  • Stop studying three days before the test to allow for mental rest.

Final Step

Regardless of your chosen study plan and schedule, the most important part of SAT prep and the final step of your plan is to ensure that you are well prepared the day before. 

Ensure you have all your proper IDs and writing utensils and that you are adequately rested and have eaten before taking the test. These small components can make a significant impact on your performance!

Tips on How to Take the Most from Your SAT Schedule Plan

Taking full advantage of your SAT study schedule requires strategic planning and disciplined execution. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your study plan:

  • Set realistic goals: Take a moment to figure out what you can realistically achieve in each study session or week. Consider your strengths, weaknesses, and how much time you can dedicate. When you set goals that make sense for you, it'll be easier to stay motivated and keep your focus sharp.
  • Focus on weaknesses: Take a closer look at which parts of the SAT you're not feeling too confident about. Give those areas some extra attention by dedicating more study time to them. It's all about boosting those weaker spots while still keeping up the good work in the areas where you shine.
  • Create a balanced schedule: Make sure you're giving each section of the SAT its fair share of study time. It's important to spread out your sessions evenly so that you're covering all the material thoroughly. Avoid the temptation to cram or overlook certain subjects, as this can throw off your preparation and leave you feeling unbalanced come test day.
  • Track your progress: Stay on top of how you're doing by regularly checking in with practice tests and quizzes. This way, you can see where you're making progress and where you might need to put in some extra work. Adjust your study plan based on this feedback to make sure you're giving the areas that need it the most the attention they deserve.
  • Stay positive: Maintain a positive attitude and believe in your ability to succeed. SAT preparation can be challenging, but staying optimistic and determined will help you overcome obstacles and stay motivated throughout the process.

By following these tips and staying dedicated to your SAT study schedule, you'll be well-equipped to achieve your target score on test day.

If you want to find out if you’re ready to take the SAT, check out this free SAT Readiness quiz. It’ll help tell you whether you’re ready to take the exam or not. 

FAQs: SAT Study Plan

Now that we’ve gone over everything you need to know about the SAT and the different ways you can build your SAT study plan and schedule, we’ll go over some FAQs that might answer any questions you still have.

1. What Is a Good Study Plan for the SAT?

A good study plan for the SAT is to start anywhere between 3-6 months of designated study time. This involves taking untimed and timed practice tests. It also includes taking a comprehensive look at questions within each section that you find challenging and prioritizing them during your study periods.

2. How Many Hours a Day Should I Study for the SAT?

Instead of spending multiple hours a day cramming for the SAT, it's recommended that you space out the amount of time you study for the SAT and dedicate 2-3 hours to studying. 

This will give you time to grasp the information effectively without fatiguing yourself and your brain.

How many hours you study per day will also depend on how much time you have to study before your exam. The earlier you start, the fewer hours you’ll have to put in each day to study.

3. Is 1 Month Enough to Study for the SAT?

While it is possible to dedicate only one month to study for the SAT, it's not ideal. The SAT requires understanding the concepts and mastering your time management, which is challenging when you only have a month to study.

The recommended study time for an optimal score on the SAT is 3-6 months.

4. Is 2 Months of SAT Prep Enough?

Two months of SAT studying will give you time to take timed practice tests and focus on your most challenging test sections, but more time will be needed to build a great understanding of both the content and the questions asked. You should set aside 3-6 months to study for the SAT.

Get Ready for The SAT With Quad

While the SAT may be intimidating and challenging for students, doing well is very doable with the right practices. You should have no issue if you've prepared by incorporating a study schedule and plan over three to six months. And remember, you can always retake the SAT, so if you don't like your score at first, you can always try again! 

Are you looking to take your study plan for the SAT to the next level? With Quad education, you can! With 1:1 personalized SAT tutoring, we can help bring your SAT score from good to great to outstanding!

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