SAT Preparation: 5 Commandments for the Final Stretch

You have spent your entire high school careers studying, taking tests and writing essays all in the hope of getting into that dream school.   And yet there are still SATs to take and scores to improve.  Before you throw up your hands in frustration, break down and cry into your pillow, or decide that being a 6th year senior is actually a cool idea, here are 5 essential things you can do to increase your chances of nailing a top score this fall. 


  1. Keep Studying – Hope alone will not raise your SAT score any more than it will win you the lottery.*  Students who take practice tests, study vocabulary, and refine techniques are much more likely to see higher scores than those who are simply hoping to sit next to the smart kid and cheat.
  2. Don’t Stress – Adding pressure to an SAT only hurts your problem solving abilities.  Taking a test in the fall is no more stressful than one in the spring, and to be honest, you are now a little older and little wiser (hopefully).  Many of my students have hit their top scores in October, November and December precisely because they went in stress-free.  If they got more points great.  If not, well, they had already submitted their scores and no one would ever know about this last attempt.**
  3. dont_stop_believing_stop_sign1– Many students think they have little chance of scoring higher on a 2nd or 3rd SAT attempt.  True some students don’t improve, but even just the confidence that comes with experience can have an impact.  You are taking the test again for a reason, so if you don’t believe in yourself what’s the point?
  4. Don’t Cheat – As the pressure builds, students sometimes feel the urge to find any advantage they can – even if it’s dishonest.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CHEAT ON THE SAT.  It’s just not worth it.  You have spent years building an academic profile and thinking that a few stolen answers will be the difference between acceptance and rejection is ridiculous.  Colleges see your scores in a range anyway and if you get caught you aren’t getting in anywhere.  You don’t want to live in your parents’ basement for the next few years. 
  5. Get a Grip on Reality – Taking the SAT may seem overwhelming at times, but it’s just a bunch of English and math questions with some bubbling thrown in.  True, bubbling can be hard and the reading passages may not be your idea of a good time, but it’s just a test.  Colleges look at the whole picture, and you should too. 

* If you have already won the lottery you are definitely luckier than the rest of us so I hope your test bursts into flames to balance out the universe. 

** Score Choice for the SAT functions differently for particular colleges so always check on for details.  In some cases there is an ethical way to avoid sending a final score even to schools who want all scores.