How to Prepare for the SAT: Complete Guide for 2022

Child with yellow pencil taking an exam
May 18, 2022
About SAT PrepSAT Preparation TimelineYour SAT Test Prep Options: Courses, Books, Online & MoreTips for Making the Most of Your SAT Prep TimeSAT Prep FAQs

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/18/22

Well, you have made it, the date is set. You are going to take the SAT. This test can help make or break your admission into your dream school. Like any other test, your score has to be high and acceptable. Not unlike any other tests, this is a test that consists of multiple sections, each graded differently with questions that you may have never seen on any other test. 

This requires a study program like one you have never seen before. This article will help guide you on the best resources to study for the SAT, tips and tricks when taking the test, and other options you may have if you still have some concerns regarding being able to get the grade you wish.

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About SAT Prep 

The SAT, or Standard Aptitude Test, offers prep courses that teach you about the key subjects and concepts on the exam. Courses will teach you a range of things, from the structure of the SAT to test-taking strategies

A challenge you will face while studying for the SAT will be figuring out the best schedule to help you succeed.  SAT study plans are usually customizable; there is no one size fits all. You should take your study preferences, SAT score goals, and resources into account on how to prepare for the SAT.

SAT Preparation Timeline

If you start studying too late, you probably won’t get your desired score. But if you study too early, you may not be familiar with all the exam’s content and could easily forget material by the time you take the test. When finding the perfect time to do SAT test prep, you should examine the content and see the recommended plans based on your dream colleges.

Before starting your SAT prep, you must figure out when to take the exam. With general college application timelines, most students aim to take their first SAT in the fall of their junior year. That way, you can retake the SAT in springtime if you want a higher score. This will free up a lot of space in your senior year, where you will focus on college applications.

You have the option of either an intense study schedule, for example, ten hours a week for two months, or a more measured one, like four hours a week for five months. These methods can work and help increase your score dramatically, so your SAT study plan usually depends on your schedule and study style.

Opting to take the Practice SAT, PSAT, is ideal for getting introduced to the SAT in a non-pressured situation. The PSAT gives you a baseline score that helps you determine how to prepare for the SAT. The PSAT allows you to get a feel of where you stand with your current skills, what needs to improve, and which sections have your strengths and weaknesses when doing SAT prep. If your school doesn’t offer the PSAT, or you missed the deadline to sign up, there are online SATprep tests for you to take in which you have untimed and unlimited access. But here’s a tip: time yourself anyway to simulate how you would perform in the actual test!

Your SAT Test Prep Options: Courses, Books, Online & More 

There are many resources you have when it comes to SAT prep. There are academic books, online SAT prep courses, and online practice tests to help you reach your SAT score goal. There are many forms of SAT prep resources available, as well as tutoring resources you can check out. Here is a list of the best study guides for 2022, ranked and categorized by online classes, books, and practice test:

Online: 

1. College Board & Khan Academy

The College Board, creator of the SAT, has partnered with Khan Academy to provide the best individualized SAT prep test for free. This is great for anyone who requires affordable SAT prep; these types of products and services cost from $300 to $500+. 

The College Board offers four full-length practice tests for the new SAT. They also offer diagnostic quizzes, studying and test-taking tips , which help tell you which sections you need more practice on. This website also has practice questions, hints, and review videos to help you know where you stand when taking the SAT.

Khan Academy’s research suggests that there are three effective practices when it comes to improving SAT scores: levelling up skills, taking full length practice tests, and following tailored practice recommendations. Students who have used Khan Academy’s official SAT practice for 6+ hours scored 39 points or higher than students who did not use them. 

For the first time ever, the creators of the SAT have given Khan Academy exclusive access and advice to build a personalized practice program for anyone, anywhere. Students can now have unlimited access to these resources so they can enhance their learning and take hold of their future. 

Books

1. Barron’s SAT Study Guide Premium 2021 – 2022

Barron’s SAT Study Guide has ample sample questions and bonus online SAT prep exams. The book includes seven practice exams, and the content review can help prepare any student for the SAT. Ask anyone who took the SAT; Barron’s prep books are excellent since they help identify your weaknesses so you can work to improve  them. It is a comprehensive guide covering all the SAT, from its topics to its format.

2. SAT Prep Black Book – Bestseller

Written by Mike Barrett, an SAT prep tutor who has students all over the world,  the “SAT Prep Black Book” offers easy walkthroughs of questions from the College Board’s certified practice tests. This book offers detailed and systematic instructions using these questions, covering each type of SAT question and innovative techniques to approach them. An example of this would be dealing with problematic wording, isolating a ‘distractor,’ etc.

It is the best traditional SAT book available on the market today. It teaches the student the structure, outline, and tricks of the SAT, which is very beneficial. It teaches helpful strategies that are time-efficient and help students answer questions effectively. 

Tips for Making the Most of Your SAT Prep Time

Here are some important tips you must remember when studying for the SAT.

Trust Your First Response 

Your first response to a question is usually correct. Don't change an answer unless you're certain you've made an error.

There Is Only One Correct Answer 

When writing practice exams, only select one answer for each question, as there is only one correct answer. Sometimes it may seem there is more than one answer. Select the best answer for each question.

There Is Only One Correct Answer 

On older versions of the SAT, you were penalized for guessing. But not anymore. If you don't know what the answer is, guess. You're aren't penalized for guessing. However, before guessing, always try and eliminate at least one incorrect answer choice.

Pay Attention 

Make sure you place your answers in the correct number space and section on your answer sheet. It's easy to put your answer in the wrong place if you're not paying close attention.

Budget Your Time

Pace yourself! This test is timed. Only spend a few moments on the easy questions and no more than a minute or two on the more challenging questions. Don't forget that the SAT consists of several small, timed tests. It's easy to lose track of time, so pay attention to how much time is allotted for each test and how much time is remaining as you proceed through each section. Pacing yourself requires practice, so practice, practice, practice.

Tackle the Easy Questions First 

A rule of thumb is that easy questions on the SAT typically precede harder questions. This means that when taking the SAT, you can save time for the harder questions by tending to the easiest questions first, which typically appear in the beginning of each section.

Make Sure You Understand the Question 

Make sure that you fully understand each question before you answer it. If you've taken a lot of practice tests, you'll be tempted to answer questions you recall from practice tests. Make sure to answer the questions being asked and not those from practice tests.

Bring a Watch or Timer 

Don't forget to bring your own stopwatch to the testing center. There isn't always an accurate clock at the testing center.

SAT Prep FAQs

We’ve outlined several questions and answers below to help you prepare for the SAT exam. 

1. Can I Cancel My Scores?

Yes, you can. You should ask the test supervisor for a “request to to cancel test scores” form. You must complete it and submit it immediately at the testing center, or, if you want time to think it over, give it a day or two before mailing it to ETS. You are usually given a deadline of the first Thursday after the test for them to receive it.

If you finish the test and want to cancel your scores, you should ask the test supervisor for a "Request to Cancel Test Scores" form. You can submit the completed form immediately at the testing center, or you can think about it for a day or two before mailing it to ETS. However, ETS must receive your request form no later than the Thursday after the test. If you choose the latter option, you may print the form, and send in your request either by fax or overnight delivery.  

2. How Important Are SAT Scores?

The weight placed on SAT scores varies from school to school. Colleges and universities also consider high school grade point average and academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, interviews, and personal essays when deciding on admissions. In addition, virtually all U.S. colleges and universities will accept ACT scores instead of SAT scores. For more specific information about the weight of your scores, contact the admissions offices of the schools to which you will apply.

3. Where Does The SAT Come From?

The SAT comes from the Educational Testing Service, a company paid by the College Board to create the test. Both are private companies.

4. When Should I Start Prepping?

It is ideal to give yourself 5-12 weeks for SAT prep. If you study during the summer, you can be offered online SAT prep courses or in-person classes. Some places offer free full-length practice tests and wrap-up courses right before you take the test in the fall.

5. Do Students Need to Take the PSAT?

The SAT comes from the Educational Testing Service, a company paid by the College Board to create the test. Both are private companies.

6. I Am Not in High School. Can I Still Take the Sat Test?

Yes, there is no age restriction on the SAT. However, if you haven’t reached or completed 9th grade, your scores will be terminated by the end of the testing year unless you make a specific request to have them archived. There can be many reasons adults take the SAT: they decide later in life to enroll in college, others want to be prep tutors or work for tutoring companies. 

To take the SAT as a person who has graduated high school, you must have a current government-issued ID with a picture, such as a driver’s license or passport. On test day, adults may be seated in a different room from high school students.

Conclusion

After reading this guide, you may now have a general idea of how to prepare for the SAT. There is a lot to learn about this exam, and going through this guide is the first step in setting a goal. If this has enlightened you, you are welcome to use this to launch other resources regarding SAT preparation. The most challenging thing about preparing for the SAT is applying your knowledge. It is hard, but it will pay off when your future is set!

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