The SAT: Five Steps To A Great Score

In the United States, the acronym SAT is universally feared among students and parents alike. For decades this test has been the standard by which all college-bound students are measured. Academic admissions offices across the nation stress that the full student profile will be considered, this includes grades, awards, sports achievement, and extracurricular activities such as High School Drama or Debate teams. This is definitely true, but Universities that sometimes receive over twenty times the amount of applicants as they have space for must winnow the field effectively somehow. Whether stated as such or unofficially, this is often accomplished through minimum SAT score requirements.

With this fact in mind, here are five things you need to know for a great SAT score.

• The SAT has recently been completely reformatted. The first New SAT will be administered in March 2016. The College Board have made many changes to it to try to make it more relevant and applicable in the real world. There is now no penalty for wrong answers, also known as the guessing penalty. There are now only 4 answer choices instead of 5. Vocabulary used in the test will be less obscure, but many of the words will have more than one meaning. The essay will be optional and with twice as much time to write.

• In an effort to be less secretive and deceptive, The College Board, the company that creates and moderates the SAT, has developed a partnership with The Khan Academy, which provides free study materials and guidance. This information can be found here:

• While this site is undoubtedly very helpful and informative, it may not address all aspects and strategies that need to be considered. While preparing for the SAT, content should definitely be at least seventy percent of one’s focus, but without some outside guidance students may devote one hundred percent of their time on content. Other necessary strategies include: test-taking skills, time management including whether or not a student should even be attempting to finish each whole section, pacing and how the test’s questions in each section tend to get harder deeper into the section, and most importantly, how to not fall for the SAT’s dirty tricks. The most vociferous complaint in the past about the SAT is that it is written in a deceptive manner. This means that questions are purposely designed to be easily misinterpreted. This includes presenting the result of the most common misinterpretations conveniently in the answer choices. This is especially true of the Math section. The College Board has apparently made an effort to minimize this aspect of the test but that is yet to be seen.

• Taking as many practice tests as possible can be extremely helpful for many reasons. Having a rough sense of how long each section will be and whether it will be a struggle to finish will prevent panic and distraction due to poor time-management. If a student is struggling in Maths and wants to earn 600 of 800 points, it is a very valuable strategy to consider devoting one’s time to doing 40 of the 58 questions well and with full attention. Why rush through the easier questions and lose valuable points due to lack of attention to detail. Taking at least 3-4 practice tests in preparation should be the minimum amount.

• The first New SAT will be given on May 7th, 2016. This means that now is the perfect time to start preparing for it. If you are hoping to begin attending University in September of 2017, this test date is ideal. Most college applications are due in November or December. This test date allows you to get your results back with plenty of time to decide if you would like to retake it later in the year. If you receive a score that is acceptable to your goals at this time then it is just one less requirement to worry about in your final year of school.


Consideration of these points and strategies along with devoted revision will yield results. In the course of study and while grading the practice tests, try to determine which types of questions are repeatedly answered incorrectly and focus on those topics the most. Don’t let an average SAT score hold you back from your dream University!

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