Last Minute Study Tips for the SAT

SAT Prep

Tip #1: Don’t wait until the last minute to study for the SAT.

Given that you’re reading this, though, I’m betting your test is in a week or two and you haven’t yet picked up a prep book. I’ll do my best to help you with some tips and tricks, but I strongly urge you to take the test again in the future after some serious study. In fact, if you have extra time in your application process, consider postponing this current test until you feel confident that you are ready to take it.


Tip #2: Read the test directions now.

You should never spend time reading the test directions at the test center. They are long and tedious and will eat away the time you have to solve questions. So read the directions now. You can download a free practice test at the College Board’s website to review the directions and general format.


Tip #3: Gather some essay ammunition.

Soldiers do not go into battle with empty guns, and you should not go into the SAT with an empty essay. Instead, choose two topics that you have researched in the past for school, such as a classic novel or a historical event. Reread your old materials, and think about how each topic can be applied to multiple essay topics. For example, the Revolutionary War can be applied to almost any theme: perseverance, independence, success, failure, motivation, honesty, and so many more. The more you know about a topic, the more you can write and thus the higher your score.


Tip #4: Understand your math formulas.

While the SAT provides you with all of the geometric formulas you need, prepared test takers have memorized those formulas and any other formulas and relationships that the test requires. You can find those formulas on our website in our Math Flash Cards. These will also introduce you to most of the content assessed by the SAT.


Tip #5: Know common grammatical error indicators.

The SAT multiple choice Writing sections test about 20 grammatical errors. If you know what to watch for, you can spot these errors quickly. We list them for you in our Writing Flash Cards.


Tip #6: Brush up on some basic vocabulary.

You obviously do not have time to study a 3500-word vocabulary list, but you should at least look through the Top 200 Repeat Offenders. Throw out the words you know and concentrate on learning the ones you do not. You will see many of the words in this list on your test.


Tip #7: Read a classic novel when you need a study break.

Students who read classic novels the week before their SAT report that they are more ready for both SAT vocabulary and the reading comprehension passages. And reading these novels doesn’t have to be torture—PowerScore instructors recommend some of their favorites for easy reading and interesting plots on our Free Help Area. And you don’t have to spend any money, either—you can find many classic novels in eBook form on Project Gutenburg.


Tip #8: Know when to guess on the test.

You earn one point for every right answer on the SAT, but you lose a quarter of a point for every wrong answer. So it’s important to know when to omit a question and when to make an educated guess. On multiple-choice questions, you should guess EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU ELIMINATE AT LEAST ONE ANSWER CHOICE. Statistical analysis has shown you will earn more points than you will lose, but only if you follow this rule on every question. You cannot guess sometimes but not others. Guess every time you eliminate at least one answer. You should also guess on every Student-Produced Response question, which are often referred to as Grid-Ins. What’s a Grid-In, you ask? See Tip #2 to find out.


I could probably go on, but you do not have time to continue reading. Drop what you’re doing and get studying. Now!