The SAT is not an IQ test. It’s not some mystical number generator that looks into the depths of your mind. No, the SAT is a simple test that measures a very specific set of skills. This is good news, because you can learn skills—which means you absolutely can improve your SAT score.
So how do you learn these SAT-specific skills?
Take Practice SAT Exams
We’ll start with the obvious. To get better at the SAT, practice taking the SAT. Let’s consider basketball as an analogy—how do players improve their basketball skills? The first answer is the obvious one: basketball players get better by playing basketball. A lot of basketball.
Even after they learn a skill, they practice to do it better, and do it faster. In the same way, to improve your SAT score you will need to take practice SATs in as realistic an environment as possible.
Taking practice exams in a realistic environment will help you feel as comfortable as possible when your test day arrives. It will also help you get a good feel for the timing of each section, knowing roughly how long you can spend on each question.
Drill to Learn the Subject Matter
Basketball practices consist of more than scrimmages, and that’s for a reason. Specific drills improve specific skills—and they do it more effectively than playing endless pickup games.
In the same way, you’ll want to focus on any SAT subject matter that you want to improve on. This is especially true in math. Instead of hopping around from one problem type to another, it’s better to practice one type of problem, master it, and move to the next.
For this reason, SAT math resources such as Khan Academy are a better use of your time than just taking practice tests.
Learn Test-Taking Skills
There are skills in test-taking that have absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter, but nonetheless can have a major impact on your score.
One of the most famous test-taking skills is called the process of elimination. If you are given four possible answers and you know that two of them are wrong, cross out those two wrong answers immediately. Now, you have a 50% chance of guessing the correct answer.
More than that, narrowing down the potential answers can help you find the correct answer more quickly. If you’ve taken even one practice SAT, you’ll know that saving time is a big deal.
Once you’ve read about test-taking skills, use them on every practice question as you prepare for test day.
Many students ask the question, “How can I improve my SAT score?” As we’ve explained here, it’s not a mystical process. You absolutely can improve your SAT score, but you’ll need to work hard and work smart:
- Take practice tests in a realistic environment
- Drill on specific question types, especially in math
- Learn and practice test-taking skills
If you put in the time, these action steps can make a significant impact on your SAT score, opening doors for college acceptance letters and scholarships. The rewards are worth the hard work, and don’t be discouraged. The SAT measures a specific set of skills, and you absolutely can improve those skills—and your score. Good luck!