Tips for improving SAT scores

02/11/2013 11:35 AM

02/11/2013 11:53 AM

7 tips for improving your SAT scores

By Jenn Savedge
Mother Nature Network (

It's SAT test-taking time, and for many juniors and seniors in high school, that means the race is on to cram for a better grade. Want to really nail the SAT this year? Here are 7 tips to help you get your best SAT score.

1. Read.
The truth is that much of the groundwork for conquering the verbal section of the SAT's was laid long before you started studying for this test. Kids who are strong readers are much more likely to do better on the verbal portion of the test then those who aren't. But even if you prefer your iPod to a book, that doesn't mean you're doomed to bomb the verbals. Practice by reading short, non-fiction magazine articles and focusing on the topic at hand. Look up words that you don't know and keep a running list of new words to learn.

2. Know your math.
The math section of the SAT is comprised almost entirely of the principles covered in algebra I and geometry, so make sure you focus on the material in these classes. If math is not your strongest subject, you can still do well on the test by practicing the key concepts of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry and sharpening you critical thinking skills so that you don't waste time trying to figure out what a particular word problem is asking.

3. Practice, practice, practice.
It goes without saying that the best way to prepare for the SAT test is to take practice tests and lots of them. These tests not only introduce you to the types of questions you will be asked, but they also help you get a feel for the time that will be allotted for each section. Check out a used, unmarked test prep book from your local library, check online for practice tests, or talk to your school's guidance counselor for SAT practice test resources.

4. Eat, drink, and sleep.
While it's tempting to spend the final hours before your SAT's cramming vocabulary words while feasting on energy drinks and French fries, you will actually perform much better on test day if you focus on eating well, staying hydrated, and getting a solid night's rest before the test. If possible, go for a short walk or do some yoga stretches the morning of your test to clear your mind and sharpen your focus for the rest of the day. Also, it's worth noting that while you want to stay hydrated, don't drink so much that you wind up wasting valuable test time running back and forth to the bathroom!

5. Don't be late.
If you are notorious for hitting the snooze button and getting to school in the nick of time, make a plan to avoid this habit on test day. Remember that you not only have to get to the testing center, you have to check in, find your seat, and maybe even hit the restroom one last time. Make sure you have your ID and your SAT admission ticket ready to go in the morning and set as many alarms as necessary to get your buns out of bed on time.

6. Don't be afraid to guess. (Sometimes.)
The common advice is that you should not guess blindly on the SATs because incorrect answers take away from your overall score. But if you can narrow down your selection to two answers, the odds are in your favor for guessing.

7. Show your work.
If you are having a hard time puzzling out a math or logic problem, take notes or draw a diagram in the side margin of your test. Sometimes, just seeing the information visually is all you need to unlock the secret to figuring out the answer.
Now breathe and go nail that test!

Entertainment Videos

Join the Discussion

Charlotte Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service