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This site is based on the fact that the SAT is a very predictable test. With the right tools, it can be studied for, and you can dramatically increase your score!

Where to begin

If you haven’t already taken the SAT, take a practice test under timed conditions. You can find a practice test in the College Board booklet provided by your school. You can also purchase The Official SAT Study Guide written by the makers of the test, which includes eight full-length practice tests. Better yet, take their online SAT practice test. It provides detailed feedback on the problems you missed.

Once you’ve taken the test, you’re already familiar with the format. Being familiar, though, is not enough. You need to know the test. For example, in the critical reading section, is it OK to base an answer on what is implied in the passage instead of what is stated? Or in the math section, if a figure does not state whether it’s drawn to scale or not, can you assume it is?

Many students light up when they learn the SAT gives them math formulas. In reality, most students would be better off if the formulas were not provided. You’re wasting precious time if you need to flip back to those — memorize them! By the way, the answers to both questions above are “yes.”

There are three components that will help you increase your score on the SAT:

Master the basic skills.  The skills required for the math section are laid out clearly in Spark Notes’ SAT skills. Learn these skills and more importantly, master them. You can find skill-based practice problems in Peterson’s Guide to the New SAT.

Learn test-taking strategies. There are six essential SAT strategies. One of them, along with examples and video solutions, is covered in detail in SAT math strategies.

Set your pacing plan.  Many people think they need to finish a section in the given time in order to maximize their score.  That’s what they say to do in school, right? Unless you’re shooting for a 2400, there is no reason for you to answer every question. (By the way, you can still get a “perfect” 2400 if you miss or skip a few because they “curve” it.) For a detailed description of how to set your optimal pacing plan, view day 1 in my free five-day e-course.

You can obtain the same score in a given section two ways: by rushing through the entire section at the expense of making careless errors, or by slowing down and knowingly omitting the harder problems.  Visit SAT preparation to help you develop a target score and pacing plan.

Where to spend your study time

After you’ve mastered the basic skills, learned new SAT strategies and come up with a pacing plan, it’s time to practice, practice, practice. Don’t fall into the trap of simply taking timed test after test. That would be like playing four-hour baseball games over and over when you need to improve your hitting. Go to the batting cages! Practice what you need to improve.

It’s great to take timed tests as part of your study plan, but get more specific in your practice if you really want to score higher on the SAT. Focus on the problem types you get wrong in your practice tests. Only once you’ve learned and practiced new skills, as well as strategies, should you invest more time in taking another timed practice test.

Comments»

1. Jason McDonald - April 15, 2012

Yes, sign up for my 5-day e-tips. I have a helpful tip on day 1.

2. Veronica - April 15, 2012

I really struggle in math. I have a horrible time with answering the questions in that short amount of time. Do you have any suggestions?

3. Jason McDonald - November 22, 2011

Exactly. Real deal or practice exam is fine. Then add 50 points to that score to try out pacing to improve score.

4. Brad Warnick - November 22, 2011

For the pacing plan. Do you recommend a student take a full SAT exam without pacing first to establish a baseline?…and then use pacing? Or will a practice exam suffice to establish the baseline? Being a realist, I don’t expect my son will score a 800 out of the gate but I also don’t want to limit him initially to a pacing plan score of 600 by not having him attempt all questions and score higher. To establish the baseline, I’m thinking he needs to take a full test without using pacing technique to see how he does then adjust with pacing. What do you think? If I don’t have to pay for a formal exam to baseline him, I’d rather not.

5. Jason McDonald - October 21, 2011

You need a raw score of 40 +/- 3 to get a scaled score of 600-650. I’ll leave the math to you as for a percentage because it varies based on how many were answered incorrectly vs. omitted because incorrect answers on the multiple choice Q’s deduct points. For example you could answer 40 correct, omit 14 and get a raw score of 40. You could answer every single Q omitting none, get 43 correct, 11 incorrect, and get ~40. Or any combination in between.

6. mike - October 19, 2011

Your math pacing chart is great, but I wonder what % of all 54 questions do you need for a 650 or 600 score. Thanks

7. Jason McDonald - August 3, 2011

I’ve never seen a gain of 500-600 points but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible :) Regardless of your good skills, your math score will not likely improve if you don’t change your approach.

8. Jason McDonald - August 3, 2011

A 290-point gain is doable but will take lots of work. My entire site is dedicated to showing students how to do that and I certainly hope you find it helpful whether you poke around for the free tips or sign up for my member area which spells it all out.

9. Jason McDonald - August 3, 2011

How frustrating to have put all that time in yet not score what you were hoping for. My entire site is dedicated to the answer to your question and I certainly hope you find it helpful whether you poke around for the free tips or sign up for my member area which spells it all out.

10. Jason McDonald - August 3, 2011

Just found this Q buried in the trenches, sorry for delay. Great question though. Your predicament is not uncommon. I make a living out of helping people get out of that pattern so unfortunately it’s not a quick fix. The simple answer, however, is for every hour you spend taking a test you need to spend 2-3 hours reviewing it and practicing what you missed. It’s not enough to take test after test. Nor is it enough to simply review answers and say “oh, I see why I missed that — won’t do that again” because YOU WILL do that again. Unless you get to the root of the problem and change your ways. That is what a professional helps you do: find the problems in your approach and provide you better ones.

11. Jason McDonald - August 3, 2011

Regular reading is a great way to increase your CR SAT score if you have years ahead. For a few weeks or months of prep you need to focus more on strategy. I have a method laid out in my member area. More important than learning that method though is reviewing the questions and answers after the buzzer reinforcing the method. Most students that study just take practice test after test without changing their approach. Thanks for your comment, I’ll write up an e-tip for passage questions soon.

12. Nick - July 28, 2011

I took my sat test last may and i got a 1430….thats terrible. Ive read 2 books prior to taking the test that covered math, english, and writing. I also studied vocab flashcards i made myself. With all that said and done, how did i get such a low score? What can i do to improve

13. kareem khaled - July 26, 2011

hi i have recently taken the sat and i scored 1710 but i really want to improve my reading skills because CR is my lowest section. so would any one please tell me what shall i do to boost my score to a 2000

sincerly
kareem

14. Thomas - July 9, 2011

How do I improve my critical reading? I keep switching up my strategies and methods to improve my passage based reading, yet I’m still getting the same score each time. I’ve taken 4 practice tests and a myriad of online passage based reading samples, yet I’m barely making any headway. I even started to read the NY times and various other works of literature, yet my scores are not increasing.

15. Aditi - June 26, 2011

Hi , I scored a 1670 in my sat’s and desperately need to improve my scores. Like by a great amount. My writing section was the worst. But I am quite confident about my math. I think I can do better if I have to take it again. But by what percentage is the question at hand. Could you please tell me if it is possible to have a over 500-600 higher sat score than before?

16. Ivy - March 19, 2011

I hope my comment isn’t too late (as it is compared with the others posted here…), but I just have a question. I took the SAT in January and received a score of 1870. I’m pretty unhappy with this because I hoped to receive a 2000+. I want to rise up to the 2100 mark and if possible go beyond it, but I cannot understand why I keep getting the same score or lower every time I take a test. I check my incorrect answers and I feel like I understand why I got them wrong, yet after taking the next test, I find myself getting the same score again. This ends up as a cycle, and I don’t know how to get out. I would like to know what is the best method to practicing the SAT; should you just take it over and over again, or what? And what do we really need to do while reviewing our incorrect answers? How can we get the most out of our review?

17. Jason McDonald - December 7, 2010

Hi Adreka,

You can get unlimited help from me in the Premium Member Area via lessons and a forum to ask specific questions. Hope to see you there!

18. adreka - December 5, 2010

hi i have recently taken the SAT and i need as much help as possible i want to make a 2000 atleast but i honestly need help on every section. i hope this is not to much to ask please help!!!!!!

Sincerely,
Adreka

19. Anonymous - August 11, 2010

hey! i am a 7th grader looking to improve my SAT scores. i took a practice SAT test about 8 months ago, and got about 1650. I’m pretty sure these are horrendous scores for someone my age. I am looking to get into a university such as harvard, stanford, etc. I will be taking pre-Calculus next year as an eight grader. I did algebra 2 over the summer. I’m going to take a practice test at the end of summer(September 1) to see my improvement. As well as the algebra 2 concepts, i’ve been studying flashcards(vocab), fine-tuning grammar skills, and also reading magazines such as national geographic to improve my critical reading. Do you think what i’ve been doing is helping? Will i get a better score? I got 570 in math and critical reading, and 510 in writing.

20. Samin - August 8, 2010

Okay,so I took the SAT on April, 2010 in Palm Beach County which was actually accounted as the March SAT. I had been in this country for only two months then, and I got 1860 on that. My parents keep telling me its okay, but I really want to go to University of Florida. Even though my score is in the median range, I want to guarantee a spot in UF. my weakness definitely is CR, on which I got 580. math 670 and Writing 610. I saw that I made 17 mistakes on reading. If i just skipped those answers instead of guessing, how much do you think I might have got?

21. Jason McDonald - June 3, 2010

Mia,

It depends how far apart your math and CR scores are as well as what major you’re thinking about. Join my member area, post your scores from each section and I’ll tell you which to focus on as well as email you an e-book that lays out how to maximize your score in each section.

Regards,
Jason

22. Mia - June 3, 2010

Hello my name is Mia. I got a 1760 on my SAT, and I am taking it again in 2 days. My goal is to receive a 2000+. SHould I focus on my weakness(CR) or my strength(Math)? If so what should I do?
Thanks so much!

23. Jason McDonald - June 2, 2010

Anna,

550-point gain is not impossible but will take a lot of work. Anyone that tells you otherwise is crazy. Ignoring your lowest score is NOT the way to reach your goal. Try my member area if you’re serious about getting started.

Regards,
Jason

24. Anna - June 2, 2010

I just took my practice SAT online and scored a 1650. My goal is a 2200+. Is this possible. My lowest score is in math. Should I focus on writing and critical reading and forget about the math. Anna

25. Shane - May 24, 2010

I strongly recommend to start of by studying for the sat a section at a time. Take a practice section then review that section until you understand why each correct answer is the correct the answer. If you keep doing this…. testing and reviewing your score will definitely improve

26. Jason McDonald - April 6, 2010

Gabrielle,

I’d start with your lowest two sub scores first. You need a good guide. I provide my premium members with one that has all you need to know as well as forum support with videos showing easy solutions to real math problems. If you haven’t already, sign up for my free e-tips. After that, try the member area and you’re sure to see improvements.

Regards,
Jason

27. Gabrielle - April 3, 2010

My name is Gabrielle, and I really need help improving my SAT scores. I got a 1590 on the PSAT and just recently discovered that I earned a 1540 on the SAT. I guess it is not so bad for a first try, but I wanted to do better. In critical reading I got a 480, math:500, and writing:560. My reading and math skills just aren’t as good as I want them to be. I’m hearing that many colleges do not even pay attention to the writing portion of the SAT, which scares me because the writing section makes up a great deal of my overall score. I wish to attend the University of Florida, but my scores are not where they need to be. What can I do to improve?

28. Jason McDonald - February 13, 2010

Hello Ramesh,

I sent you an email, be sure to let me know if you have any questions by replying to my email or posting them to the member area!

Regards,
Jason

29. Venkatramesh - February 12, 2010

Hello Mr. McDonald,

I became a member on this site today, and I would like to send you my essay, but i know how to send you the essay?

Can you please help me?

Thank you.

30. Jason McDonald - September 29, 2009

Glad to, Brendan! Be sure to include the prompt question.

I just recorded videos to your math questions so check the member area for them soon.

31. Higgins Brendan - September 29, 2009

Hi Jason,

I have the essay I wrote for the may 2009 SAT. I was wondering if I emailed it to you, if you could tell me what i should have done to get a 12?
Thanks