In high school, I raised my own SAT score 760 points from average to perfect. Of the 50 million students who have taken the SAT, approximately 10,000 have gotten a perfect score — just 0.02%. A perfect SAT score completely changed my life: I got into prestigious universities (I just completed an MD/MBA from Yale and USC), won a quarter-million dollars in college scholarships, and even got to meet the President of the United States!
Now, I’ve started Prep Expert to help other students change their own lives by changing their test scores. I am now going to share 10 Prep Expert SAT prep methods right here, right now, for free!
If you implement all 10 of these SAT prep tips, I'm confident that you'll raise your SAT score 100 points!
Don't forget that Prep Expert offers 6-week online SAT & ACT prep classes that teach students 100 methods I used to achieve a perfect SAT score.
Free SAT Prep Tip #1: Use College Board SAT Questions
The secret to getting a high score on any standardized exam is to practice with official practice questions released by the test creator.
Many students go about preparing for the SAT in the wrong way. They go out and buy practice tests created by The Princeton Review, Kaplan, Barron’s, or some other third-party company. I cannot think of a worse way to prepare for the SAT.
In the case of the SAT, you should practice with questions produced by the College Board, the company that publishes the SAT. Every perfect SAT scorer in the history of the SAT has practiced with official College Board questions.
No third-party company can create SAT test questions that are as accurate as the ones the College Board produces. Creating accurate standardized test questions requires millions of dollars in research, development, and testing.
Most third-party companies simply do not have the budget or resources to create perfect test questions. So they settle by creating sub-par questions that try to mimic the College Board’s official SAT questions.
Why settle for less than the best? Only use official questions produced by the College Board when preparing for the SAT. At Prep Expert, we only use official College Board SAT questions in our SAT prep courses.
Free SAT Prep Tip #2: Don’t Use College Board SAT Strategies
This might seem counterintuitive. While I just said that you should use College Board SAT questions, I am now telling you do not use College Board SAT strategies.
While I praise the College Board’s accurate SAT questions, I believe the College Board creates some of the worst SAT strategies. When the College Board said that it was teaming up with the Khan Academy to offer free test prep, many parents and students were very excited.
However, all test prep is not the same. The College Board and Khan Academy have created the worst test prep on this planet. The College Board wants students to believe that what is tested on the SAT is what they learn in high school. So that’s what the Khan Academy teaches: everything you have already learned in high school.
The College Board and Khan Academy have no interest in teaching you how to game the SAT. Would the test creators teach you how to game their own test? No.
The following Prep Expert SAT prep tips will teach you how to avoid doing algebra on the SAT Math section, which words are always incorrect on the SAT Reading section, the sly technique that test question writers use to try to prevent you from identifying grammatical errors on the SAT Writing section, and a fill-in-the-blank essay template to get a perfect score on the SAT Essay section. Basically, everything that the College Board and Khan Academy would never want you to know.
Want to get a perfect score (or at least a high one) on the SAT? Practice with perfect SAT questions using perfect SAT strategies. Get the perfect SAT questions from the College Board. Get the perfect SAT strategies from Prep Expert.
Free SAT Prep Tip #3: Substitute Abstracts with Tangibles (S.A.T.)
By Substituting Abstracts with Tangibles, we can avoid doing algebra on many algebra problems.
This is an SAT Math strategy that we teach at Prep Expert and ironically its acronym is “S.A.T.”! We simply plug in a tangible number (such as 2) for an abstract variable (such as x). Then, we determine which answer choice matches our tangible answer.
The best way to teach a concept or strategy is by using an example. So take a look at the example below.
The expression is equivalent to which of the following?
How can we solve this problem without using any algebra at all? It’s simple actually. Start by picking a tangible number for x. You can pick any number that you want because the whole point of algebra is to create expressions that are valid for all numbers no matter which one you pick.
I typically like to start by making x equal to 2 because it is a small and easy number to work with. I also discourage students from making x equal to 0 or 1 because that often results in answer choices that are identical to each other. So what happens to the original expression when x = 2?
Okay, so now we know that the original expression is equal to -4 when x is equal to 2. The next step is simply to find the answer choice that also equals -4 when x is equal to 2.
- (A) -1.25
- (B) 2.5
- (C) 2
- (D) -4
And there you go! Only answer choice D is equal to -4 when x is equal to 2. D is our answer.
Notice how the above steps required no algebra at all! Isn’t that amazing? What looked like a really complex problem at first became very simple once you plugged in x = 2. Substitute Abstracts with Tangibles can be used on all kinds of problems beyond just algebra.
This strategy works extremely well on the SAT because with all the stress on test day, it’s helpful to have a simple strategy that you can use when your brain just can’t do the complex algebra (even if you normally know how to do the algebra). We train students in our Prep Expert SAT Classes to think in terms of tangible numbers rather than abstract algebra, and SAT math scores skyrocket!
Free SAT Prep Tip #4: Substitute Answers in the Problem (S.A.P.)
This is another SAT Math strategy that we teach at Prep Expert and its acronym is “S.A.P.” S.A.P is the sister strategy to S.A.T. I will cover the differences between the two.
Have you ever wondered why algebra teachers never give you multiple-choice tests in high school? Because you would just be able to plug in the answer choices into the original problem thereby avoiding actually doing any algebra at all. Well, guess what? The SAT gives you lots of algebra questions that are multiple-choice!
So you should take advantage of the multiple-choice nature of the SAT exam by plugging in the answer choices into the original problem. In other words, Substitute Answers in the Problem. Let’s take a look at an example.
The function is defined by where c is a constant. In the xy-plane, the graph of intersects the x-axis at three points, , and . What is the value of ?
The problem above looks complex at first glance. However, it’s actually very simple. All you have to do is Substitute Answers in the Problem. In this case, the answers are the coordinates given. Whenever the SAT gives you an equation and coordinates, it’s essentially handing you the answer to the problem. Coordinates are really just the solutions to equations. So pick any of the coordinates given in the problem and plug them into the original equation. If I Substitute Answers (in this case, the coordinates) in the Problem (in this case, the equation), here’s what happens:
The answer is A. Notice how I did not use any algebra to solve what looked like a very complex algebra problem! This is the power of S.A.P.
So how do you know when to use S.A.T. and when to use S.A.P? You should Substitute Abstracts with Tangibles (S.A.T.) when there are variables in the question and variables in the answers. You should Substitute Answers in the Problem when there are variables in the question and numbers in the answers.
So it really depends on the answers. If the answers are variables, you need to create your own number to plug in (Substitute Abstracts with Tangibles). If the answers are numbers, you can use those numbers given to you to plug in (Substitute Answers in the Problem).
We spend a lot of time with students in our Prep Expert SAT Courses to help them learn when to use S.A.T. vs. S.A.P. as well as teaching them the variety of different problems these SAT Math strategies are applicable to (it goes far beyond just algebra).
Free SAT Prep Tip #5: Build (Your) Own Simple Solution (B.O.S.S.)
This is an SAT Reading strategy that will unlock the reading section of the SAT for you.
It will not only help you answer questions more accurately, but it will also save you a tremendous amount of time on SAT Reading – the section that many students struggle to finish on time.
When I was in high school, SAT Reading was always the part of the SAT that I scored lowest in. I would get a lot of questions wrong and fail to finish the sections on time. That all changed when I started to Build (My) Own Simple Solution – or B.O.S.S. Once I implemented B.O.S.S., I achieved a perfect SAT Reading score!
So what is B.O.S.S.? Build (Your) Own Simple Solution means that you need to write down your answer to a reading question before you look at the answer choices given to you by the SAT. This is a very powerful technique because it assures that you won’t be distracted by the enticing, but incorrect answer choices that the SAT test question writers have put there to try to trick you.
There are four answer choices on every multiple-choice SAT problem. And three out of those four answer choices are incorrect. So if you think about it, every answer choice you read on the SAT has a 75% chance of being incorrect. If you believe SAT answer choices are correct, then you are probably wrong — just based on pure statistics.
The problem is worse on SAT Reading because most of the answer choices sound correct. The only way you can eliminate the wrong ones would be to have an idea of what the correct answer should be. You can do this by creating your own answer before looking at the distracting answer choices, or Build (Your) Own Simple Solution - B.O.S.S.
Imagine going on a treasure hunt, but not knowing what the treasure looks like. It would be really hard to find the correct treasure, wouldn’t it? Every time you came across bronze, silver, or gold, you might think that you have found the treasure. But what if you had a picture of the exact treasure you were looking for: a diamond. It would be a lot easier to find the treasure, wouldn’t it?
Approaching SAT Reading questions without having a B.O.S.S. solution is like going on a treasure hunt without knowing what the treasure looks like. You are going to choose a wrong answer because you haven’t thought about what the right answer looks like. By using B.O.S.S., you are essentially creating a picture of the right answer so that you can then select the answer choice that is most similar to your B.O.S.S. solution.
However, it is really hard not to get distracted by enticing, but incorrect answer choices. It’s just easy to look at the answer choices and hope that the correct answer pops out at you. Stop hoping. Instead, cover the answer choices with your hand.
This will prevent you from peeking at the answer choices and force you to create your own answer. You should write this B.O.S.S. solution down in the test booklet. It does not need to be long or complex. Your B.O.S.S. solution can be as simple as “good” or “bad.” But the point is to write a B.O.S.S. solution down before looking at the distracting answer choices.
Upon hearing this strategy, many students think that B.O.S.S. will slow them down because they now have to write things down. However, B.O.S.S. will actually speed you up on the SAT Reading section! Contrary to popular belief, most of the time that students spend on the SAT Reading section is not spent on reading passages or writing notes.
Instead, most of the time spent on the SAT Reading section is wasted debating between answer choices. Does the following describe what is going on in your mind when you are reading answer choices?
- (A) This sounds like the right answer.
- (B) Definitely not.
- (C) This sounds good too!
- (D) Probably not.
Then, you spend a lot of time debating between answer choices A and C. Ultimately, you decide to go with answer choice C because it provides an insight that you had not thought of. When you get your test back, you find out that the answer was, in fact, A. You should have stuck to your gut in the first place and not wasted so much time debating between answer choices only to get the question incorrect!
B.O.S.S. solves the issue above. There is no more debating between answer choice A and C. Instead, if A is most similar to the B.O.S.S. solution you created, then A is the answer you select. No time wasted. There is a new question type on the SAT Reading section that B.O.S.S. can save you a tremendous amount of time on - Command of Evidence. Command of Evidence questions look like this:
Which choice provides the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
- (A) Lines 3-7 ("Pennies...implied")
- (B) Lines 12 - 15 (“Which…predominating”)
- (C) Lines 35 - 40 (“But…good”)
- (D) Lines 52 - 57 (“Many…Jim”)
Essentially, the SAT now asks students to provide the evidence in the passage from which they got the answer to the previous question from. How do most students approach Command of Evidence questions? They would read lines 3 - 7, then determine whether those lines provide the best evidence to the answer to the previous question.
They would read lines 12 - 15, then determine whether those lines provide the best evidence to the answer to the previous question. They would read lines 35 - 40, then determine whether those lines provide the best evidence to the answer to the previous question. They would read lines 52 - 57, then determine whether those lines provide the best evidence to the answer to the previous question.
Then, they would likely debate between lines 35 - 40 and lines 52 - 57 for quite some time. Ultimately, they might choose answer choice C because they are tired of debating. This is not the right answer, and they just wasted a lot of time debating between answer choices.
How would students who take Prep Expert SAT Classes approach Command of Evidence questions? They would not even look at the answer choices. Instead, they would create a B.O.S.S. solution for the line that they think provided the best evidence to the answer to the previous question.
Perhaps that line was “54”. Line 54 would correspond to answer choice D so that is their answer. They are not only correct, but they also saved a couple of minutes of time that other students would waste reading all of the lines in each answer choice and debate between answer choices.
Free SAT Prep Tip #6: Watch Out For Extreme Language
Another SAT Reading strategy that I learned when I was preparing for the SAT in high school is to watch out for extreme language.
In other words, you should not pick answer choices that have extreme words. Avoid answer choices that use words that are too radical or absolute.
Remember that SAT test question writers must be able to defend why correct answers are correct and why incorrect answers are incorrect. Answer choices with milder language are easier to defend than answer choices with extreme language.
Take everything at face value on the SAT Reading section. If an answer choice states that “all the children are four feet tall,” then that literally means that every single child on the planet is that exact height. In day-to-day conversation, we would cut this statement some slack.
Perhaps most children are around four-feet tall. But on the SAT, an extreme statement such as, “all the children are 4 feet tall,” must be taken as literally as possible. Is every single child on the planet this exact height? No.
So what exactly is extreme language? Here are some examples.
|Only||Throughout History||Throughout the Ages||Totally||Unique|
If you see any of the above words or phrases in an SAT Reading answer choice, then you can be certain that the answer choice is incorrect. For example, let’s say you come across an SAT Reading question with the following answer choices:
- (A) They have a range of features, which is more typical of different species than different varieties.
- (B) Though they are called pigeons, they are all actually different species of birds that are not related.
- (C) All domestic pigeons have unique calls and flying patterns which distinguish each individual.
- (D) Domestic pigeon varieties are relatively similar so should be classed in the same species.
Given the SAT Reading strategy we just learned, you should be able to get rid of answer choices (B) and (C) immediately! Why? Because they include extreme language that I have bolded below.
- (A) They have a range of features, which is more typical of different species than different varieties.
- (B) Though they are called pigeons, they are all actually different species of birds that are not related.
- (C) All domestic pigeons have unique calls and flying patterns which distinguish each individual.
- (D) Domestic pigeon varieties are relatively similar so should be classed in the same species.
So you now have a 50/50 shot of answering this question correctly (either A or D) and you haven’t even read the passage! That’s the power out watching out for extreme language. After students in our Prep Expert SAT Classes watch out for extreme language on the SAT Reading section, they watch their SAT Reading scores skyrocket!
Free SAT Prep Tip #7: Cross Out Prepositions (C.O.P.)
There is one SAT Writing strategy that unlocked the SAT Writing section for me when I was preparing for the SAT in high school, and it wasn’t taught in my high school English classes.
The SAT Writing section is different than the SAT Essay section. You can think of the SAT Writing section as the multiple-choice portion of the test that has grammar questions and the SAT Essay section as the free-response portion of the test that requires you to write a composition. These next couple of Prep Expert SAT strategies will address the SAT Writing section.
I found that if I ignored prepositional phrases, I could quickly identify writing errors. Why? Because grammatical errors are almost never within prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases are really only there to distract you from grammar errors.
How do I ignore prepositional phrases? I physically cross them out, hence the Prep Expert SAT Writing strategy name: Cross Out Prepositions. Alternatively, you can put them in parentheses and read the sentence without the parts in parentheses.
By focusing on the simplified sentence that does not contain prepositional phrases, you will be able to identify grammatical writing errors much more easily. In fact, SAT test question writers often create questions that have multiple prepositional phrases in them for the sole purpose of trying to prevent students from seeing the true grammatical error in the sentence.
C.O.P. is useful in identifying the following types of errors: singular-plural errors, comparison errors, parallelism errors, idiom errors, transition errors, and pronoun errors. We cover each of these types of errors in-depth in our Prep Expert SAT Classes.
Before you can use Cross Out Prepositions, you need to understand what a preposition is. The formal definition of a preposition is “a word governing the relation between words.” That doesn’t mean much to me. Instead, I think of a proposition as anything a rabbit can do to a log. A rabbit can go “through” a log, “under” a log, “above” a log, “in” a log, etc. Therefore, all of those words in quotes would qualify as prepositions.
The 25 Most Common Prepositions on the SAT
Common SAT Prepositions
You will notice that the rabbit-log rule doesn’t apply to all of the above. However, it still applies to many of the prepositions above and is a good rule to get you started. Once you regularly apply C.O.P. to SAT Writing problems, you won’t have to think about what is and what isn’t a preposition. It will become so natural to you that crossing out prepositions will be second-nature.
Let’s take a look at an example of how C.O.P. can help you solve an SAT Writing problem:
"Until it is managed by a new, more effective, and more understanding administration, the teachers will continue to strike."
Do you see an issue with the sentence above? Many people don’t. But what if we Cross Out Prepositions to help us.
Until it is managed , the teachers will continue to strike.
The simplified sentence would read as follows:
Until it is managed, the teachers will continue to strike.
Now, do you see an issue with the sentence? You should! The singular pronoun “it” is attempting to refer to the plural noun “teachers.”
Until it is managed, the teachers will continue to strike.
This is a singular-plural pronoun mismatch. Instead, the correct sentence should read:
Until they are managed by a new, more effective, and more understanding administration, the teachers will continue to strike.
Notice how this pronoun error was much easier to spot after we crossed out the prepositions. SAT test question writers purposely place prepositions in between important items of the sentence in order to distract you. They hope that you get the question wrong because you don’t see the true error because of their prepositional distractions! Don’t let them distract you — Cross Out Prepositions to ace the SAT Writing section.
Free SAT Prep Tip #8: Watch Out For 99% Wrong Words
Just like there are certain words and phrases that are always wrong on the SAT Reading section (see Free SAT Prep Tip #6 above), there are certain words and phrases that are always wrong on the SAT Writing section.
We used to tell students in our Prep Expert SAT Classes that these words and phrases are “always” wrong on the SAT. However, there are some instances in which these words and phrases are acceptable. So you can be 90-99% certain that these words or phrases are wrong on the SAT, but not 100%. What are these words or phrases? See the table below.
99% Wrong Words & Phrases
|For The Reason|
|Is The Reason Why|
The most notorious 99% Wrong word on the SAT Writing section is being. The word “being” (and many forms of “to be” actually) often create a passive voice. Therefore, to get rid of the passive voice and create sentences written with the active voice, you often need to eliminate “being.” In addition, phrases such as “is the reason why” create redundancy. The SAT Writing section does not like excessive language such as this and prefers to write sentences in the most succinct way possible.
This SAT Writing strategy will help you eliminate incorrect answer choices. For example, let’s say you were faced with the following answer choices on an SAT Writing problem:
But no one thinks of the unkind meaning of the nickname now, for Massacre is why he is honored as one of the greatest names in the history of Art.
- (A) NO CHANGE
- (B) is the reason why he is
- (C) is
- (D) being why he is
Immediately, you would be able to eliminate answer choice A because of the phrase “is why,” answer choice B because of the phrase “is the reason why,” and answer choice D because of the phrase “being.” Therefore, the answer is C.
Look how easy the SAT Writing section can be when you know simple rules such as to Watch Out For 99% Wrong Words!
Free SAT Prep Tip #9: Exploit SAT Essay Length & Vocab
Taking advantage of the SAT's overall structure is a great way to create an essay that will do well with scorers.
Many parents and students are under the assumption that the essay is optional on the New SAT. However, that is not really true. Most competitive colleges require the “SAT with Essay” (just as they do the “ACT with Essay”). Therefore, we encourage all students in our Prep Expert SAT Classes to take the “SAT with Essay.”
The SAT Essay requires students to do an analysis of an argumentative passage. SAT Essay graders will give you three scores out of 8 for Writing, Reading, and Analysis when they score your SAT Essay. These scores do not affect your SAT score out of 1600 points but will show up separately on your score report under your SAT Essay grade.
However, it’s much more important to know how the SAT Essay is scored. The College Board hires high school English teachers to grade SAT Essays. But unlike in high school where your English teacher may have 30-40 minutes to read your essay, SAT Essay graders only have about 2-3 minutes to read your SAT Essay because they have thousands to grade! With so little time to look at your SAT Essay, graders need quick clues that tell them to give your essay a high score.
There are two concrete things you can do to make your essay stand out: 1) write a long essay and 2) use big vocabulary words. This goes against everything that high school English teachers have traditionally taught in classrooms. In class, they tell you that it’s not about the quantity of your writing, but the quality.
But on the SAT Essay, it’s definitely about quantity over quality. In class, high school English teachers tell you that it’s not about the big vocabulary words that you use, but the message of the words themselves. But on the SAT Essay, big vocabulary words are more important than the message.
The SAT Essay will give you four blank pages to write your essay on. You have 50 minutes to fill up as much of these pages as possible. Ideally, you want to fill up all four pages, but if you can fill all three and a half, then that is usually enough for a perfect SAT Essay score. In fact, an MIT study found that longer SAT Essays are directly correlated with higher scores, no matter the content!
Next, you want to use big vocabulary words in your SAT Essay. They say that it takes approximately 7 seconds for a person to make a first impression about you after they first meet you. The same is true with respect to an SAT Essay grader and your SAT Essay.
Within 7 seconds, the SAT Essay grader will make a first impression about what grade they are going give your SAT Essay. Therefore, it’s very important to use big vocabulary words early on in your essay when the SAT Essay grader is forming his or her initial impression.
Using big vocabulary words in your essay will improve all of your SAT Essay subscores. Here’s how it will help each:
- (1) SAT Essay Writing Subscore - vocab will showcase a command of language
- (2) SAT Essay Reading Subscore - vocab will allow for better expression of ideas
- (C) (3) SAT Essay Analysis Subscore - vocab will create more advanced insights
Of course, it is very important to use big vocabulary words appropriately in your SAT Essay. Using a scholarly word inappropriately or in the wrong context may actually hurt your SAT Essay score more than it will help. That is why we have students in our Prep Expert SAT Classes memorize 300 vocabulary words during our courses.
Not only will these vocabulary words help them on the SAT Reading section when they are tackling passages, but it will also help them here on the SAT Essay portion of the exam when they need to use big vocabulary words to raise their SAT Essay score.
Don’t have a strong vocabulary? No problem. I’ve got you covered. Below I have compiled tables that include common words that you would use in an SAT Essay (ex. argument, persuade, good, etc.) and then put synonyms of scholarly vocabulary words that you can use instead of these common words! Gaming the SAT Essay is easy.
Free SAT Prep Tip #10: Use SAT Essay Templates
Don't worry about having to create your essay from scratch, I have a template that will both save you time and effort on test day.
I will cover one last free SAT prep tip that you can use to improve your SAT score 100 points! This last strategy is related to the previous tip for the SAT Essay. Let’s say that you are not a good writer. You might think that it would be really difficult to write a 4-page essay with big vocabulary words. No problem, I’ve got you covered again.
In our Prep Expert SAT Classes, we give students an SAT Essay template that is basically a fill-in-the-blank skeleton for each paragraph that you need to write the SAT Essay. And I am going to share our Prep Expert SAT Essay Introduction Paragraph template below. Once you memorize the Prep Expert SAT Essay template, you will get a perfect score on the SAT Essay every time no matter what!
You might be wondering…how can this one-size-fits-all template work for every SAT Essay if the passage you have to analyze is different on every administration of the SAT exam? Well, it’s because the passage that you have to analyze will always be an argumentative one. And there are only so many argumentative techniques that an author can use in order to strengthen their argument. And I’ve identified the most common ones and put them into this template.
You might also be wondering…if an SAT Essay grader sees hundreds of essays with the same template, wouldn’t they become suspicious and grade your essay lower, or worse, accuse you of cheating? No! You cannot get in trouble for plagiarism because Prep Expert is giving you permission to use our SAT Essay template.
In addition, an SAT Essay grader cannot grade your essay lower just because it is using the same template as other SAT Essays. The whole point of a standardized exam is for scores to be standardized. If your SAT Essay is similar to a perfect-score SAT Essay, then you too must get a perfect score!
The SAT would be ruined as a standardized exam if it gave two similar essays different scores. In addition, creativity can never be used as a grading criterion on the SAT because how can you create a standardized way to judge creativity? You can’t.
Let’s take a look at what the introduction template for the SAT Essay looks like:
In [Article Title], [Author Name] synthesizes a compelling dissertation that [Passage’s Key Point]. Although some detractors may believe [What Detractors Believe], the arguments set forth in the article dismiss such romantic critics as excessively dogmatic in their provincial ideology. One of the broader notions presented in the essay is that [Major Idea in Article]. [Author’s Last Name] deftly delivers a cogent argument to sway his/her readers by [3 CREW SAID Tools].
Let’s quickly summarize what the above introduction is saying since it seems complex. The first sentence is your thesis — the author makes a strong argument. The second sentence is shooting down the opposition — the naysayers are too narrow-minded. The third sentence is a generality — bring up some major point from the passage.
Finally, you end with the plan of procedure — tell the reader what you will be discussing in the next three body paragraphs. The “CREW SAID Tools” are common argumentative techniques that every SAT Essay passage writer uses to strengthen their argument that we teach students in our Prep Expert SAT Classes.
Let’s say that you just read a passage called “The Enduring Value of a Humanities Education” by Jane Smith. Here is what the introduction paragraph of your SAT Essay would like if you used the Prep Expert SAT Essay Template:
In “The Enduring Value of a Humanities Education,” Jane Smith synthesizes a compelling dissertation that knowledge relating to the humanities is indispensable to the progress of society. Although some detractors may believe the advancement of education strictly focused on technology is key to national development, the arguments set forth in the article dismiss such romantic critics as excessively dogmatic in their provincial ideology. One of the broader notions presented in the essay is that an education in the humanities magnifies a person’s versatility to be a productive member of society. Smith deftly delivers a cogent argument to sway her readers by citing prominent authorities, implying broad repercussions, and using stark contrast.
Did that sound like a perfect-score essay or not? With enough practice with Prep Expert SAT Essay Templates, you will write essays like the above all the time on every essay. We have had thousands of students use our essay templates and get perfect scores on their SAT Essays. It does not fail.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about these 10 Free SAT Prep Tips that will help you improve your SAT score 100 points! Learning about these strategies is the easy part. The hard part is actually implementing them when you take the SAT.
You can do that on your own with lots of practice or you can sign up for a Prep Expert SAT Class and let us teach you 90 more SAT Prep Strategies, and walk you through all of the practice you need to ace the SAT! Who knows? Maybe you’ll be one of the many Prep Expert students that achieves a perfect score on the SAT :)
For more tips and information, don't forget to check out Prep Expert.
10 Secrets To Raise Your Child's SAT/ACT ScoreWith Perfect Scorer Shaan Patel MD/MBAFREE REGISTRATION
Updated for the New 2016 SAT!
The maximum score on the SAT is a 1600. Out of the 1.7 million students who take the test every year, only about 300 get the highest possible SAT score. This elusive perfect score catapults you to the top of high school academic achievement and can be a big boost to your college applications.
I scored perfect scores on the SAT. I actually scored two perfect scores - a 1600 in 2004 when I was in high school, and a 2400 in March 2014 when I took it ten years later.
Most of the advice out there about how to get a perfect score come from people who didn't get perfect scores. In this exclusive article, I'll be breaking down exactly what it takes, and the ruthless techniques I used to get a perfect score.
Let me start with a few disclaimers.
I'm a humble person, and I don't like talking about my accomplishments without good reason. I know a lot of you are looking to score the highest SAT score possible, so I've written this guide to help you get there. So whatever I say here, please take it as advice from a mentor eager to help, not as a braggart strutting his stuff.
Also, a last note: I co-founded the company PrepScholar - we create online SAT/ACT prep programs that adapt to you and your strengths and weaknesses. I want to emphasize that you do NOT need to buy a full prep program to get a great score. If you follow the principles below and are very driven, you'll do just fine.
I do believe, however, that PrepScholar is thebest SAT program available right now, especially if you find it hard to organize your prep and don't know what to study. I'll refer to decisions we made in creating the program to flesh out principles I discuss below.
What Perfect SAT Scores Look Like
For full transparency, let me show you my personal score report. This is a screenshot from my College Board SAT Organizer:
I took the two SATs 10 years apart. The 2004 test was in an old format of the SAT and was scored out of 1600. I took the new test in 2014 and scored a 2400.
(Yes, I took the SAT as an adult. Besides getting funny looks from high school students, I wanted to go through the experience anew so I knew what my students at PrepScholar were going through.)
So that you can see in bleeding detail how I got the 2400, I've attached my unofficial detailed score report from the College Board. You can see exactly how many questions I missed and read my essay (my handwriting could use some work).
Using my score report as an example, let's examine what it takes to get a perfect SAT score. While this score report talks about the Old 2400 SAT, the principles are still the same. In the new SAT, there are still Reading, Math, and Writing sections, and you still need to do EXTREMELY well on them to get a perfect score.
What It Takes to Get a 1600 on the SAT
At the top end of the scoring range, the SAT is not forgiving. You need to aim for perfection.
Specifically, here's what you need to do in each section:
- In Reading, you can only miss 1 or 2 questions. This depends on the curve for that test. It's best to aim for missing 0 or 1 question. In my test, I missed 1 reading passage question.
- In Math, you need to get every question correct. No question about it. The curve is unforgiving for Math. Miss 1 question and you won't get an 800 on this section.
- In Writing, you can sometimes miss 1 question at most. In some tests, you have to get a perfect Writing and Language score to have a shot at an 800.
Essentially, you need to aim for perfection during your prep. If you're consistently missing one or more questions on each section, you're not performing consistently enough to be safe for a 1600. We'll go into more detail about this below.
If you want to confirm my statements here, check out the College Board score charts for official SAT practice tests.
One last question to answer before my actual advice:
But Wait...Are You Just Smart? Will This Advice Work for Me?
You may have heard about top scoring students who just rolled out of bed, strolled to the SAT test center, and scored the highest possible SAT score without any prep.
This was not me. Some people like the above may in fact exist, but they're rare. In high school, I was naturally stronger at math - I participated in math and science competitions - and I could reliably get 800's on the math section.
But my reading and writing needed work. When I started off, I consistently got in the 700 range. Now, this is already pretty high, but it wasn't enough for the top schools I was aiming for. I just wasn't that accustomed to the SAT reading passages and the types of questions they asked.
It took a lot of hard work for me to learn how the SAT works, how it tries to trick students, and how to find a strategy that worked for myself so I could reliably get top scores. My co-founder at PrepScholar had a similar story.
Since I'm older, I also have the benefit of seeing whether my methods worked over time, or just on the SAT. Emphatically, the principles below have worked throughout my academic career.
Here's another example. As an undergraduate in college, I planned to attend medical school, so I had to take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). In my view, this is a much harder test than the SAT. It covers many more topics: general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biology, and verbal reasoning. Furthermore, you're competing with pre-med's across the nation, people who are naturally driven and competing to get into medical school, not just the average high school student.
When I started studying for the MCAT, I scored around the low 30's. The test is scored out of 45, and it's curved very aggressively. Again, this was already well above average, but it wasn't enough for the top medical schools I was going for.
So I worked hard. I put in the time, covered all the subjects I needed to know, and was ruthless about my prep. In the very end, I scored a 44:
As the testing organization notes, this is in the99.9 percentile rank, with 0.0% achieving this score (this figure is rounded). I had multiple medical advisers tell me that they had never seen a score this high before, and there might indeed be fewer than three people per year - or none at all - who get a 44. Scoring this high definitely helped me get into the MD-PhD program at Harvard Medical School and MIT.
I wish I were talented enough to get these test scores naturally without hundreds of hours of hard work. That would be the cooler thing to say. But it wasn't true for me, and it probably won't be true for you either.
With this foundation laid, here's the meat of what I want to say:
What Do You Need to Do to Get a Perfect 1600 SAT Score?
In broad strokes, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of smart work, and some amount of luck.
But you've heard this before so just this alone isn't helpful. Let's dig deeper.
You have to want it. Really, really want it.
You need the motivation to push yourself. You need to put SAT prep as one of your top priorities in life, overcoming watching Youtube or hanging out at the mall.
In the darkest of days, when you take a practice test and drop 100 points inexplicably, and your parents are freaking out, and you're worried you're never getting into your top college, you need the inner fire to not get depressed. Instead, you need to pull yourself up and objectively rip apart your mistakes so you don't repeat them.
People don't often mention motivation, but in my view this is one of the most important pieces that differentiate successful people from not, in all aspects of life. It's much more important than just being smart.
Make a list of all the reasons you want to get a perfect score. Write them down. Stare at them when you lose faith.
Want to get into Harvard or an Ivy League school? Want to make up for a bad GPA? Want to prove to your parents that you can beat their expectations? Want to compete with your friends? Want to show up your 3rd-grade teacher who said you would never amount to anything?
That's all good. Anything that drives you from within is a valid reason to work hard.
You'll need this to combat procrastination and laziness. You'll need this to push yourself to execute every strategy I tell you below. If you're not motivated, it's just too easy to brush aside failure and be sloppy about your weaknesses.
In my personal case, beyond the academic benefits, I thought the SAT was a dumb test that was impeding my life. I was angry at test writers who devised tricks to fool students. I approached it like a video game - the SAT and the College Board were bosses that I needed to dominate. Plus, my brother had a near-perfect score, and I wanted to one-up him.
Write down all the reasons you want a perfect score and use it to fuel yourself every study session.
Exclusive Blog Bonus: We've written a popular free guide on 5 tips to improving your SAT score by 160+ points. Get a free download here.
Step 1: Do High-Quality Practice and Avoid Low-Quality Materials
The SAT is a weird test. It's unlike tests that you've taken throughout school. It presents simple concepts in bizarre ways. This is essentially how the College Board makes the test hard - it takes concepts most students have seen before, twists them to be unfamiliar, and counts on students to screw up.
To excel at this test, you need the highest quality practice materials. Because the SAT has questions that are twisted in a particular way, you need to train in exactly the way they're twisted so you learn the patterns.
As we've said before, by far the best practice material comes directly from the College Board in the form of official SAT practice tests. When I was studying, I devoured every SAT practice test I could find. I took over 15 full-length practice tests and was ruthless about finding my mistakes, as I'll talk about soon.
Just like the mantra about your diet and body, what you put in is what you get out. Trash in, trash out. If you train yourself on questions that don't reflect what's on the SAT, you're going to learn the wrong patterns.
Using bad materials is like training for baseball by playing tee-ball. Yes, if you spend 1000 hours practicing tee-ball, you'll be a tee-ball pro. But when someone pitches a real baseball at you, you're going to freak out - "why is the ball traveling so fast? Why's it so close to my face? Ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod."
And then you strike out.
To be frank, most of the books available on the market are trash. They boast about having a lot of questions, but they're written by people who aren't truly experts on the test. This means the questions don't test concepts in the same way; the answers are sometimes ambiguous; the questions don't trick you in the same way the SAT does.
In my company PrepScholar, we hire only SAT full-scorers and 99 percentile scorers to craft our thousands of test questions. You need to have mastered the test to really understand the intricacies of how the SAT works. We've turned away dozens of applicants who scored below a 2300 since they really don't understand the test well enough.
If you like studying with books, here's my list of the top SAT prep books available. There are some pretty high-quality books written by true experts, though they can get pricey - buying the top 5 books will cost you at least a hundred dollars.
Collect good prep materials and study using only these.
Step 2: Focus on Quality First, Quantity Second
Now you have a lot of materials.
Some students focus hard on getting through every single page of every book they have. They might not know why they're studying what they're studying, but at least they sure put in a lot of time and effort!
This is the wrong idea. You don't want to pound your head against the wall and use a brute force approach.
Improving your SAT score is about quality first, and quantity second.
It's so tempting to just focus on getting work done, because that's the easy part. Understanding your weaknesses, as we discuss below, is what takes real energy and insight.
Think about it this way - let's say you're learning to throw a football with a perfect spiral. You can pick up a football and, by trial and error, if you throw it 1,000 times, you'll make some progress.
Now imagine you have New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady standing by your side. You throw the ball once, and he corrects your technique. Move your foot back this way, have your hand follow a certain motion, and follow through. You try again, and it's way better.
In throwing 50 balls this way, I'm certain you'd end up doing better than 1,000 by yourself.
I'm not suggesting that Tom Brady is a tutor, and you must have a tutor. You can be your own Tom Brady, and we discuss below how to do that. But you need to make sure you get the most out of your studying and make it as efficient as possible.
You need your own SAT Tom Brady.
Step 3: Be Ruthless About Understanding Your Mistakes
On the ground level, when you're actually studying, this is by far the most important way you'll succeed over other students.
EVERY mistake you make on a test happens for a reason. If you don't understand EXACTLY why you missed that question, you will make that mistake over and over again.
If you're performing at the 700 level, you're missing around 10% to 15% of all questions. This means you have some consistent errors that are holding back your score.
This is what you need to do:
- On every practice test or question set that you take, mark EVERY question that you're even 20% unsure about.
- When you grade your test or quiz, review every single question that you marked, and every incorrect question. This way even if you guessed a question correctly, you'll make sure to review it.
- In a notebook, write down the gist of the question, why you missed it, and what you'll do to avoid that mistake in the future. Have separate sections by subject and sub-topic (reading - passages vs sentence completion, writing - sentence errors vs improving paragraphs).
It's NOT enough to just think about it and move on. It's NOT enough to just read the answer explanation.
You have to think HARD about why you specifically failed on this question.
By taking this structured approach to your mistakes, you'll now have a running log of every question you missed, and your reflection on why.
Everyone who wants to get to an 800 on a section has different weaknesses from you. It's important that you discover for yourself what those are.
No excuses when it comes to your mistakes.
Go Deeper - WHY Did You Miss It?
Now, what are some common reasons that you missed a question? Don't just say, "I didn't know this material." Always take it one step further - what specifically did you miss, and what do you have to improve in the future?
Here are some examples of common reasons you miss a question, and how you take the analysis one step further:
Content: I didn't learn the skill or knowledge needed to answer this question.
One step further: What specific skill do I need to learn, and how will I learn this skill?
Incorrect Approach: I knew the content, but I didn't know how to approach this question.
One step further: How do I solve the question, and is there a general rule that I need to know for the future?
Wrong Guess: I was stuck between two answer choices, and I guessed wrong.
One step further: Why could I not eliminate one of the last answer choices? Knowing the correct answer now, how I can eliminate it? Does this suggest a strategy I can use for the future?
Careless Error: I misread what the question was asking for or solved for the wrong thing
One step further: Why did I misread the question? What should I do in the future to avoid this?
Does this seem hard? It is - you have to think hard about why you're falling short and understand yourself in a way that no one else can. But few students actually put in the effort to do this analysis, and this is how you'll pull ahead.
By the end of my studying, I had notebooks filled with practice questions that I'd missed, and when eating breakfast I could thumb through them to review them, like flashcards.
Adopt a no-mistake-left-behind policy toward your mistakes. Letting one slip through can mean you make the same mistake on your real SAT.
Here's another useful trick when reviewing mistakes: ask yourself "Why?" five times?
This is a revolutionary technique developed by Toyota to figure out the root cause of manufacturing problems.
The point is that when you ask yourself "Why?" five times, you'll dig deeper and deeper to understand what the underlying cause is, and how to fix it.
Here's an example. Let's say you miss a Reading passage question. Everyone does this.
Starting point: I missed a Reading question about the big picture summary of the passage.
- Why? I picked the wrong answer choice, out of the two I had left.
- Why? The wrong answer choice had a phrase that was in the passage, but otherwise the meaning was wrong. I got tricked.
- Why? I didn't fully understand the passage when I was reading it.
- Why? I read the passage too quickly.
- Why? I was scared about running out of time.
Wow - you see how a single question can give you a TON of information about where you went wrong? Now you have a lot of opportunities to improve - on how you read passages, how you eliminate answer choices, and how to process big picture questions.
Again, very few students actually have the discipline to go through this reflection. And this is why YOU'RE going to get a better score.
Step 4: Find Patterns in Your Weaknesses, and Drill Them to Perfection
Now that you're collecting mistakes in a notebook, you'll be able to start finding patterns to your weaknesses. This might be a content area - like problems with math circle problems, or a specific grammar rule. Or it might be a personal habit of yours, like misreading the passage or eliminating the wrong answer.
Focusing on your weaknesses is CRITICAL because you have a limited amount of time to study, and you need to spend that precious time on the areas that will get you the biggest score improvement.
I've worked with students who just love drilling their strong points because it's comfortable. Of course, this is a waste of time - you have to confront your demons and pick at where you're weak, which is uncomfortable and difficult.
When I was studying for the SAT and MCAT, I kept track of my mistakes in an Excel spreadsheet. I found, for example, that I consistently missed Reading passage questions about inferences because I was reading too far into what the author was saying. I then focused on drilling those specific types of questions until I had developed my own strategy for solving the questions.
As another example, back when the SAT emphasized vocab more, I needed to study thousands of vocab words, any of which could show up on the test. I developed my own method on the best way to study SAT vocab words - what I call the Waterfall Method. This method forces you to review words you don't know over 10x more than words you already know - efficient studying. You don't need to use this for the New 2016 SAT, but you may still find it helpful for any class you need to use flashcards for - foreign language, history, or English.
Find the weak link in your chain.
When you find your weakness, you need to find resources to drill that content area. If you're weak in Trigonometry questions, you need to find a lot of SAT Trig questions to really drill those skills. If you're weak in subject/verb agreement, you need to find grammar questions to drill.
Doing all of this well is tough for many students, because you have to at once:
- Do practice questions
- Diagnose your weaknesses
- Find more practice questions
- Understand whether you're improving or not
- Adjust your plan continuously
This is the backbone of every effective study method, but it takes a lot of mental energy to do well. This is actually why we started PrepScholar - we wanted to build an online prep program that would do all the heavy lifting for you, so that you can concentrate on learning. In our PrepScholar program, we detect your weaknesses and automatically organize your quizzes by skill so that you can focus on learning and not on the higher-level activities of analyzing your own progress.
By the way, a quick side point - be suspicious of any content-level strategies that promise you results. By content-level, I mean strategies that tell you how you must solve a type of question. At your level, you need to focus on what works best for you. For example, people approach reading passages differently. Some read the passage first, then answer questions. Some skim questions first, then go back to the passage. I know what works best for me, but that's not necessarily what works best for you.
What you will have to do is aggregate strategies for your weaknesses, then test them out yourself to see if they work for you. Specific strategies for each weakness is out of scope of this article, but we'll post examples later.
Step 5: Eliminate Careless Errors
These types of mistakes are by far the most frustrating. You know the content, you know how to solve it, but because of a misreading of the question, you don't get the question right. This can already disqualify you from an 800 on Math.
In my own SAT, I made careless errors because I was trying to finish early and save time for the end, so I would rush through questions too quickly. I hated myself every time I made a careless error. But when I focused on the two things below, I was able to claim back my lost points.
1) Double-check that you're answering the right question. The SAT is designed to ask you tricky questions. You might find the area of the square, but the question actually asks for the perimeter.
To eliminate this, always underline what the question asks you to solve for. Don’t stop your work until you solve for the correct thing.
Another strategy is to write what the question is looking for in your scratch area. For example, if it asks for seconds instead of minutes, write “= ____ seconds” and circle it before you start your work.
This might sound like extra work, but how you defeat careless errors is by having a reliable, failproof system.
2) Be wary about choosing the "No Change" option. For Writing, a common careless error is choosing "(A) NO CHANGE" in grammar questions. That's because when you read the question, it seems grammatically correct to you because the grammar rule just isn't ringing a bell.
Whenever this happens, make sure you double check the other answer choices to make sure that NO CHANGE is absolutely the best answer choice.
You should check especially for grammar rules that are easy to overlook, like Subject-Verb Agreement and Misplaced Modifier. By analyzing your mistakes, you'll be able to find patterns in grammar rule weaknesses that you have. You can then build your own system for grammar rules that you often miss - for example, for Subject-Verb Agreement, identify the subject and the verb, and then make sure they match.
Step 5: Develop Amazing Study Habits
If you're highly motivated and aiming for a top score, you're likely to spend at least 200 hours studying for the SAT.
Your job is to get the most out of every hour you can.
Learning how to study more effectively has huge returns on your time.
Think about it - if you can learn some techniques to improve your study efficiency by 20%, this will effectively give you back 40 hours of your life.
Here are my best recommendations on great study habits, all of which I follow myself.
Habit 1: Create a Schedule and Force Yourself to Stick to It
It's important to have a plan. You need to understand when you're going to do what, and then you need to follow that plan.
Here are questions to ask yourself:
- How much time do I have until my next test?
- How much time will I spend studying every week?
- How many practice tests should I take before then? When will I take them?
- During each week, what specific times and days will I be studying?
- What will I actually be studying each day? Why?
- How should my schedule change based on the info I receive from practice tests?
Do NOT approach SAT prep without a plan like this. You'll wander aimlessly from book to book, test to test, without actually focusing on what is going to get you results.
We designed PrepScholar to take care of all this hard work for you. Every week, we create customized lesson plans so you know exactly what to study and when. We schedule practice tests for you at the best moments leading up to your test date. We ask you for your weekly study schedule, then text you reminders to study. We send you progress reports so you know how well you're doing and whether you need to study more.
If you feel like you don't know how to create your own study schedule or aren't confident you can stick to one, you might like PrepScholar's SAT program.
Habit 2: Eliminate All Distractions
You have so many distractions at your fingertips - Snaps, texts, YouTube, games, and more.
All of these are super fun and super easy to consume for hours on end.
All of these will improve your SAT score by ZERO.
If you're studying and you glance at your phone every 3 minutes, you are NOT STUDYING. The brain is actually terrible at multitasking, and every time you lose attention, you take minutes to go back to full concentration.
I know how tempting it is to stay up to date with everything your friends are doing. There's major Fear of Missing Out. You don't want to miss a hilarious joke or be late to a scandalous story.
The thing is, in the long term, these little interactions don't actually make a big difference. Think about the last time responding to a text within 3 minutes was VITAL to your friendship.
You are not missing out on anything important if you text back an hour later. Maybe you'll call me an old man and just claim I don't get it, but a friend who gets mad at you for not replying within a few minutes doesn't sound like a good friend to me.
I once sat in a coffee shop next to a girl who was trying to study chemistry. Every few minutes she would look at her phone, laugh, and return a text. She got through two pages in an hour - I kid you not.
Instead, here's what you need to do:
- Go to a quiet place where you won't be interrupted. Wear earplugs if it helps.
- Turn your phone off or leave it another room.
- Don't listen to music where you actively have to listen to words.
- Don't study with friends. It's more fun but everyone does a crappy job of studying.
- If you're using a program like PrepScholar on a web browser, use tools like StayFocusd to keep yourself off of distractions.
Treat this seriously. One hour spent studying at full concentration is better than three hours at 50% concentration.
Habit 3: Have a Positive Mindset. Your Job Is to Grow.
When you're trying to get a perfect 1600 SAT score, you'll get frustrated when you make mistakes. I was the same way, and I got mad at myself for making careless mistakes or for forgetting something I used to know.
The important thing is to channel that frustration into learning and growth.
Treat every mistake as a learning opportunity. Every mistake tells you exactly where your weakness is, and what you need to do to fix it.
You are allowed to get upset, but not so much it paralyzes you. Instead, treat your primary goal as getting better - not as getting a specific score.
Step 6: Get Fast Enough to Always Double Check Your Answers
Now that you’re aiming for a top score, you need to finish each section ahead of time to give yourself time to double check your answers. A good rule of thumb is to finish the section with at least 5 minutes to spare. As you get better at the SAT, this will be easier to accomplish since you’ll solve each question in less time.
When I took the SAT, I reliably finished each section with 5-10 minutes to spare. I would mark any questions that I felt I had to return to and double-check. I had enough time to review all my answers twice.
The real time-killers are questions you get stuck on. It’s very easy to get sucked into a question for five minutes, frustrated that the SAT is taking a point away from you. Avoid this temptation. Follow this rule: if you’ve spent 30 seconds on a question and can’t see how you’re going to get to the answer, circle the question, and skip it. You’ll have time at the end to come back to it. For now, you need to work on the other questions.
How do you double check effectively? It varies between sections. For math, you should try to re-solve the question quickly in a different way. For some questions, you’ll be able to plug the answer back in. For others, you’ll just need to check your steps you took the first time around.
For writing, confirm that the sentence has the error you think it does. Again, for No Error answer choices, make sure you aren't missing something in the question.
For reading, confirm that there is no other better answer choice than the one you picked. For passage questions, make sure you rule out four incorrect answers. For sentence completion questions, plug the words back into the blanks to make sure they fit perfectly.
As you get better at the test, you'll have more time left. Aim for at least 5 minutes left after each section, and use that time to double-check your answers.
Stay calm during the test, even if you get confused on a question.
Step 7: Don't Get Inside Your Own Head During the Test
If you're vying for a perfect 1600 score, you'll face pressure during the test. You know how little room for error there is.
This means that if you're having trouble with a question, it's easy to psyche yourself out. "Oh no! I'm having trouble with this math question. If I don't get this right, my 800 in math is gone!" This will make you nervous, which makes you even less likely to answer the question, which makes you more nervous, and so forth. This vicious spiral can suck you down for the rest of the test.
Controlling your mental status is important during the test. Just like a pro athlete or performer, you need to be confident about your skills. You already put in a ton of work, and you've learned most of what the College Board has to throw at you. The last thing you want to do now is ruin more of the test.
So it's a single question you're unsure about - this doesn't affect your performance on any other question. Try your best and clear your head, then move on.
Does All of This Really Work?
I can say from personal experience that these are the principles that I used to excel in academics. If you follow these principles for your own classes and in college, you'll do an amazing job. I would also be hard-pressed to find any top scoring student who doesn't agree whole-heartedly with the advice above.
This advice also works if you're not aiming for a 1600. If you want to improve from a 1200 to a 1500, you can use these principles to power your learning.
These principles also work in life. As a startup founder, I adhere to lean principles to constantly analyze where my weaknesses are, how to build them, and how to focus on what's really important for our company.
While the SAT tests specific skills that you may not use in everyday life, the process of preparing for it can teach you a lot about yourself, your limits, and your ambitions. This sounds a little hokey, but take it from this old man, you can learn a lot about yourself.
Finally, keep in mind that you don't need a 1600 to get into top colleges! A 1520+ will make you more than competitive for top schools like the Ivy League. If you get a 1540, your time is better spent building up the rest of your application than eking out a few more points.
Quick Plug: I've mentioned my company PrepScholar a few times. If you agree with what I say above, you'd like my course. I designed our SAT course around the principles above, knowing that most students don't have the energy or expertise to diagnose their own weaknesses. PrepScholar automatically figures out what you need to work on and focuses your learning by drilling your weak skills. It also builds in motivational features so you're up to date on your progress and commit to more study time. Check out our SAT program here.
If you liked this article, you'll also like my expert guides on getting an 800 in each of the SAT sections. Each one goes further into deeper details on how to ace each section.
Aiming to get into Harvard and the Ivy League? Read my How to Get Into Harvard guide. You might learn that you're headed straight to the rejection path.
Finally, check out our online SAT prep program. We have a 160+ point money back guarantee: if you finish our course and don't improve by 160 points, you get all your money back, no questions asked.
I designed the PrepScholar program around the principles in this article. Thousands of students have used PrepScholar to improve their score by hundreds of points, which is why I'm confident it'll work for you too.
Try our program with a 5-day free trial today: