Welcome to part 2 of the Best SAT Study Plan! In part 1, I went over the steps to take before starting to study, including setting a target score and where to find free resources. If you missed part 1, you can read it here! In part 2, we’ll be describing in detail how to set up a 3 month study plan 🙂
Before getting started, know that a 3 month study plan may not work best for you. Ideally, you should start as early as possible! Even before starting to prepare intensively for the SAT, there are several things you can do from a young age, such as reading articles from science magazines, reading novels, and learning vocab!
3 months of studying intensely for the SAT will be roughly 80 hours, or about 6 to 6.5 hours a week. In most circumstances, 80 hours of studying will get you about 150 – 200 points of improvement from your baseline score. For reference, here is a chart from PrepScholar that details the relationship between number of hours of preparation and score improvement:
|Hours of Studying||Point Improvement|
|10 hours||0 – 30 points|
|20 hours||30 – 70 points|
|40 hours||70 – 130 points|
|80 hours||130 – 200 points|
|150+ hours||200 – 230 points|
Based off of this chart, you may choose a longer span than 3 months or a more intense schedule over the 3 months in order to reach your goal score!
Now, on to the plan!
Step 1: After taking your first practice test (the one used to find your initial score), analyze it
- What questions did you get wrong?
- Why did you get it wrong? (was it a concept you didn’t know, misreading the question, ran out of time, etc.)
- For incorrect and difficult reading and writing questions, write a few sentences about why the incorrect choices are wrong and why the correct choices are correct (for math, just show your work!)
Next, spend a week going in depth on each of the three sections – Reading, Writing & Language, and Math
- This is a personal preference, but I like to start with the Writing & Language section first!
- First, review grammar rules. You can find these rules through the following sources:
- 12 SAT Grammar Rules that you must know
- Khan Academy’s Grammar Practice & Videos
- Any SAT prep book (refer to Part 1 for recommendations)
- because the SAT uses standard English grammar, any grammar textbook used in your English classes should work too!
- Do a LOT of practice questions! a great website is www.cracksat.net/sat/writing-language/
- this process of learning the Writing & Language section should take about 2 weeks
After learning the Writing & Language section, I would recommend tackling the Reading section: (2 – 3 weeks)
- Start by doing practice questions, you can either use real SAT practice tests from the College Board website or Khan Academy, OR you can use CrackSAT‘s (which are taken from official College Board tests)
- make sure you are doing these questions TIMED, for reference, the reading section has 5 passages to complete in 65 minutes. To stay safe, I would recommend no more than 12 minutes on any passage
- After doing a couple sets of practice questions and grading them, determine whether your biggest challenge is time management (not being able to completely answer all of the questions in the given time) or comprehension/interpretation (didn’t understand passage and/or questions)
- next step is learning the best reading strategy for you
- Khan Academy
- Prep Scholar Blog‘s Reading Strategies for getting a Perfect Score
- Test Prep books
- trial and error from doing practice questions!
- A few things you should establish in your strategy include…
- What passage do you have the most difficulty on?
- How long does it take to read the passage?
- Develop a system for annotating the passage (underlining, circling, etc.)
- How do you choose the right answer?
- How do you eliminate wrong answers?
Finally, Math! (another 2 – 3 week process, so by the end of review math, you should be at the beginning of your third month)
- the thing to remember with the SAT’s math questions is that the concepts are usually simple (no higher than Algebra 2 level), it’s usually the wording or context of the question that makes it confusing
- review basic math concepts, once again Khan Academy is a great online free resource but test prep books are great too
- most importantly, review Algebra (including types of equations, systems, graphing) — it definitely plays a huge role in a lot of questions
- After covering the basics, learn the more advanced topics that are covered on the SAT, such as
- Statistics and Data Collection
- Exponential, quadratic, and nonlinear equations
- reading bar graphs
Throughout this entire 3-month study plan, I would recommend taking a full-length practice at least biweekly, all while trying to replicate the testing environment as much as possible. The more experience you have taking a full test, the less nervous you will be on actual test day!
After grading each test, it is so important that you annotate the questions you get wrong or were unsure about. This helps you understand why you get each question wrong. Another great question to ask yourself is Why was this question put on the test? Asking this question helps you think like the test writers, and therefore you know how to think to get to the right answer.
Since you spent month 1, 2, and the beginning of month 3 going in depth into the 3 sections. The last few weeks should be to review strategies and still difficult concepts. When you finish grading your practice tests and practice questions, see what types of questions you are continuously getting wrong. These are the topics you should spend a week reviewing. Furthermore, continue to try and memorize grammar rules, common vocab words, and math concepts.
On the final week before your test date, it is important NOT to overwork yourself! This may sound cliché, but making sure you are well rested and energized can show huge score improvement. Instead of spending the night before your test frantically taking more practice tests, go to sleep at a reasonable time and wake up a healthy mindset and eat a good breakfast!