College and University Blog

Ace the SAT - How to Improve your SAT Scores

The SAT is designed to provide college admission officers with two things: a predictor of first-year academic achievement and a yardstick to compare students from a wide range of educational backgrounds. You are being measured on the knowledge, understanding, and skills you have acquired throughout your education. This knowledge is cumulative and not something you can cram for. Learning how to take a test can increase your test score. Below are a few pointers that may help you raise your SAT scores:

  • PACE YOURSELF Don’t spend too much time on one question. Each question is worth the same number of points. If a question is confusing or too time-consuming, you may want to move on to the next question. Go back and try to answer the more difficult questions if you have time. There are no extra points for finishing quickly – Accuracy is much more important than speed.
  • READ EACH QUESTION CAREFULLY Make sure you fully understand what each question asks before answering.
  • ANSWER THE EASY QUESTIONS FIRST The SAT is arranged in order of difficulty. The first third are easy, the second third are medium, and the last third are difficult. Keep this in mind when answering test questions.
  • USE LOGIC TO ANSWER MORE DIFFICULT QUESTIONS Eliminate as many incorrect answers as you can and then make an educated guess from the remaining answers. Guess only if you are able to eliminate at least one wrong answer. You are penalized for wrong answers on the SAT. If you absolutely cannot make an educated guess, leave the question blank.
  • BE PRECISE IN MARKING YOUR ANSWER SHEET Be sure to completely and correctly fill in the correct ovals on your answer sheet. Make sure the number on the answer sheet is the number of the question you are answering. Mark only one answer for each question. Make sure to erase completely if you change your answer.
  • DON’T CRAM You’ve worked hard to prepare for the SAT. Now it’s time to get in test mode – calm, rested, confident, and prepared. The best thing to do the night before the test is to get a good night’s sleep.
  • DRESS IN LAYERS Be prepared for temperature extremes in the testing center. You must be comfortable in order to do your best.
  • ARRIVE EARLY Scope out the test location before test day. If someone is giving you a ride to the test center, confirm your travel plans. You have enough to be concerned about without having to worry about getting to the test.
  • KEEP TRACK OF WHERE YOU ARE IN EACH TEST SECTION Remember the organization of the test – easy to difficult? Obvious answers at the beginning of a set may be correct, but obvious choices near the end of the set are often traps.
  • RELAX Your attitude and outlook are important. Be confident.

The SAT writing test lets you demonstrate your skills in planning and writing a short essay.

The SAT writing exam consists of two sections: the written essay and a multiple-choice test on proofreading and editing.

The essay portion asks you to write a persuasive essay on an assigned topic in 25 minutes. The topic will be one that does not require any specific knowledge. Your essay is not a test of your creative or informative writing, but of your persuasive writing skills. You’ll be asked to take a position on an issue and to back up your position with reasons and supporting examples. There is no “right answer” on the essay. Your score will be based on what you say and how you say it – how do you justify your position and do you do it clearly, coherently, and logically? Your essay will be scored by two people independently using a scale of 1 to 6. Your score will be the total of their marks.

The multiple-choice proofreading and editing section does not test you on spelling, capitalization rules, or punctuation. You are tested on grammatical concepts such as: idiom errors, pronoun errors, singular-plural errors, comparison errors, and lack of parallel structure. This section is scored in the same manner as the other multiple-choice sections of the SAT.

Accommodations can be made for test-takers with disabilities. If you feel you may need accommodations, contact your guidance counselor. They can provide you with information about eligibility, documentation requirements, how to request accommodations, and what types of accommodations can be made. Requesting an accommodation means extra deadlines, so start the process as soon as you can.

What you know will determine how well you do on the SAT, but other things may influence your performance. The following will help you do your best:

  • KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT ON TEST DAY You can do this by completing practice tests and by investigating the test sections.
  • PREPARE IN ADVANCE Do not leave preparation to the last moment.
    • Your test center admission ticket. You will receive this after registering for the test.
    • Acceptable identification (must be a valid, photo ID)
    • Sharpened No. 2 pencils with good erasers
    • A watch so you can pace yourself during the tests.
    • A calculator if you wish to use one during the math test. Make sure you have fresh batteries.