SAT is more of a test on how well you’ve prepared yourself, strategizing, and less about your intellectual abilities. My score went up by 470 points between my first PSAT in ninth grade and my April SAT junior year. In between, I took a couple more PSATs and the NMSQT, and there was no significant increase in my score. So, I decided to strategize. I knew in order to maximize my score, I had to play to my strengths, which was to get an 800 on the Math section, minimizing my errors in the Reading section, and aiming to get ≤ 3 wrong in the Writing section. After months of ineffective studying then changing to studying with strategies in mind, I was able to successfully increase my score.
- Prep Books
The SAT math section tests basic algebra and geometry. What makes it seem hard is the way the questions are worded. Prep books such as College Panda (great for beginners) and PWN (better for a level up) are extremely helpful in understanding the College Board’s phrasing patterns. Knowing what the question is asking for will let you know what to solve for. I always got at least one wrong when I took the PSATs; after comprehending the questions and omitting simple errors, I was able to get a perfect score on the SAT math section. For Reading/Writing and Language, Erica Meltzer’s prep books resembled the actual SAT nicely for me to practice.
- Read everything
In the Writing and Language section, reading every sentence is unnecessary. The first time I took the PSAT, I ran out of time to answer many of the questions on this section, since I tried to read through every sentence in each passage. Reading the lines that the questions ask you about is enough to answer any of the punctuation/vocab questions. Questions regarding sentence placement and the progression of an idea through the passage might require some further reading, although you can generally get the jist of the passage by answering the other questions. Skimming the passage or reading the first/last few sentences is enough to answer these questions.
- Practice with College Board Materials
To ace the SAT, we need to practice with problems that are similar to the ones on the actual SAT. This way we can get a feel for the actual test and understand the SAT’s phrasing strategies to choose the correct answer choice.
These are some of the tips that helped my score well on my SAT in 2021. Everyone has different study methods that works best for themselves, so it is important to study in a way that works best for yourself! Scoring well on the SAT is all about strategizing and putting in the work! Some can ace it with little studying; others, like me, needed to invest more time to get the score I wanted. And even if you didn’t get an ideal score on your first PSAT or SAT, it doesn’t mean you won’t do well on it the next time! Instead of limiting yourself with an unideal score, use it to set a goal for where you want to be, and work towards it!