You’ve taken the test the first time around and received your scores.
But you were hoping for a higher number.
If you, like many students, will be taking the SAT® test more than once, try these 5 tips to improve your SAT test score on the next test.
1. Set a Target Score
The first time you take the test, it makes sense to see what it’s like and how well you do.
The second time, though, you need to set a target score.
Concrete and specific goals are easier to achieve than vague ones.
Wrong: I want to do better!
Right: I want to raise my composite score by 110 so that I can be in the 75% percentile range of my dream university.
2. Create a Plan
Your new study plan needs to have specific weekly activities on it (attend workshops, practice vocabulary, study math concept, etc.). Bonus if you write out, week by week, exactly when and what you’ll study.
You’ll also need to decide on your next test date, which is probably a few months away.
Also, schedule practice tests and reviews to evaluate your progress.
Generally, attend workshops 2-4 times per month and take practice tests 1-2 times per month. A KD Director can recommend the perfect schedule for your testing plan.
3. Evaluate Your Score Report
This is where the rubber meets the road.
After you take a practice test, take a long, hard look at your score report. Ask yourself these three things:
Where did you score the lowest?
If it was the reading section, you might have gotten bogged down by answering questions in order (you don’t have to, by the way). If it was the math section, you might have rushed through easy questions and made logical mistakes.
Your Achilles’ heel might be a certain type of question (looking at you, command of evidence). In that case, leverage all your available strategies for the next test and really focus on mastery.
Where did you do well?
Hooray! You’re great at their/there/they’re! Which is truly something to celebrate.
If there’s a skill in which you consistently excel, do it first on the next test. Save the struggle questions for the end of a section when you have time to agonize.
Where are the biggest opportunities for improvement?
You won’t be able to learn all of trigonometry in a day. But you could definitely do more math on paper than in your head — by showing your work.
If you don’t know the word “approbation,” then you just don’t know it. But you could label its tone and make a reasonable deduction based on the overall tone of the passage.
What we’re saying is that your biggest opportunities for improvement are your techniques, not necessarily your base knowledge. Actually use the strategies. They really, honestly work.
After you’ve learned where you’re making mistakes, you should modify your study plan to include more practice in those areas.
On future practice tests with reviews, compare your score reports to watch for improvement.
It’s fine to do some independent prep — in fact, that’s a good idea — but nothing can beat being able to ask your instructor why the answer is C and not B because you thought the question was asking about the researchers’ assumptions.
As it turns out, having instructor guidance for your test prep can make a world of difference.
So you have a goal, a plan, and some guidelines. What next?
The actual test prep part.
Motivate yourself by rewarding yourself for milestones. Little treats are a great incentive when it’s hard to sit down and work.
Study frequently and often by keeping to the weekly schedule you planned. The schedule should be able to flex, but don’t ever skip studying.
To help you, host a study session with friends who are taking the test, too. You can really get a lot done that way.
Sign up for test prep help. Take all your classes, attend workshops regularly, take practice tests, and go to your test reviews with your instructor. Private tutoring is also an option — ask your KD Director.
5. Try Again
The next time you take the SAT test, eliminate the other factors that you can control that could have impacted your performance the first time around.
Reduce stress before the test by choosing sleep over cramming, waking up early and arriving early, remembering your backup calculator, and staying positive.
Remember, you’ve already done this once before, and you lived. Now that you’ve prepared more thoroughly, you can have even more confidence in yourself.
If you struggled with anxiety during a test in the past, work through our tips for overcoming test anxiety.
Also, prioritize your physical comfort. It’s hard to do well when you’re exhausted, freezing, hungry, thirsty, or anxious.
We recommend the following steps to start the test day off right:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Bring a water bottle and healthy snack
- Bring a light jacket in case it gets cold
- Wear comfortable clothes
Being organized and taking a methodical approach to improving your score really relieves a lot of stress and produces great results.
You can do this! We believe in you.