Don’t Settle for a Disappointing SAT Score

You sacrificed four long hours on a Saturday morning to complete the SAT; you’ve waited in anticipation for weeks while the College Board tallied your scores; you nervously signed onto their website to learn how you fared. Perhaps your final marks were close to what you expected, or perhaps they were disappointing. But even if you surprised yourself with a high score, you may still wish to see if you can do better–-and you absolutely can!

While the prospect may seem intimidating, there are a number of ways to raise your SAT score. It is not uncommon for a student to score 250 or more points higher the second time he or she sits for the SAT. But for your score to rise that dramatically, a great deal must happen between exams.

Get to know the test format

It is understandable to feel apprehensive your first time taking the SAT, but on your second attempt, you’ll be an expert. The test has 10 sections. The first is always the 25-minute essay, followed by nine multiple-choice sections for writing, critical reading, and math, which vary in length from 10 to 25 minutes. In addition to having a better understanding the timing of the test on your second try, you should recognize patterns in the questions presented after completing two or three.

Master the practice questions with no time constraints

Start small. Complete a practice portion without timing yourself, and cease only when you are confident that you have answered all the questions to the best of your ability. Mark your test, and if your score was not close to perfect, don’t panic. This just demonstrates that you must relearn some material. You may wish to revisit mathematics concepts or get a grammar refresher. No material on the test should be new to you, so it shouldn’t take an insurmountable amount of time to review if necessary.

Identify how to manage your time

When you know you are capable of a nearly perfect score on a practice section, the next step is to figure out how to reduce the time you spend to earn that score. Most test takers are capable of answering every SAT question correctly–it simply takes some people much longer to find it than the time allotted on the SAT. Demonstrating to yourself that you are capable of working at that pinnacle is key for your confidence. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can get very high marks with extra time, the test will become far less intimidating. After that, it’s merely a matter of training yourself to work accurately and quickly.


This article was written by Caleb Zimmerman

Caleb Zimmerman is a professional writing and test-prep tutor for Varsity Tutors. He graduated from The King's College in New York City in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in politics, philosophy, and economics.

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