9 tips and strategies for effective SAT preparation

SAT – an assessment test aimed at academic ability used in college admission evaluations  in the United States – is often a required condition for international students looking to start their college career in the States. All SAT sittings have the same formats that test student’s language and mathematical/logical ability. In order to score well on this test, students need some experience and effective study practice passed on from previous test-takers/experts. SAT is the key to helping you achieve the “American dream;” As such, you might find some of the tips and strategies below very helpful in getting you to that desired SAT score.

Jump to these strategies:

  1. Understanding the SAT
  2. Learning SAT terms
  3. Good English ability is not enough
  4. Study past questions
  5. Understanding the author’s point of view
  6. Plan your writing
  7. Be succinct
  8. Add interesting arguments to your essay
  9. Set your scholarship goals

Understanding the SAT

Whatever you do, make sure that you understand the SAT well. The SAT comprises of two parts: Mathematics and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. A lot of people mistakenly think that applying previously acquired knowledge, reasoning methods,…is sufficient to complete the test satisfactorily. However, in the SAT, vocabularies are highly academic and technical, and learning 30 words per day for three months may only get you a relatively satisfactory SAT score. In addition, knowing which studying resources and test locations are most suitable are also important factors that one need to consider.

Learning SAT terms

While you can get help from SAT courses, self-study and practice should be your main focus. As aforementioned, the most important thing to consider when studying for the SAT is learning academic terms, studying them over and over is never a waste of time. To avoid forgetting terms after studying them, you need to set goals and studying methods. For example, only put yourself in an English environment during the SAT preparation period.

Good English ability is not enough

The preparation for the SAT is important, as you will have to devote all your energy to the test. A lot of students think that a good grasp of English is sufficient to score well on the SAT, but one’s ability in English is only a prerequisite. You also need the ability to reason mathematically and logically, as well as the ability to argue persuasively to write a convincing essay.

Study Past Questions

After reading the sample tests and questions on College Board, read the solutions very carefully. Think like an examiner on the SAT: Start analyzing why there are three points to every essay (Reading, Analysis and Writing). Focus on questions that carry more points and look for something that you can learn from.

Understanding the author’s point of view

Once you are ready to do your first practice essay, make sure you understand the passage and the direction of the argument posed by the author and not only the topic and your interpretation of it. Underline important transition words (e.g. for example, on the contrary,…) and try to think about how you will add that into the overall perspective of the author. Note important phrases and the main points when you come across them.

Think about what the author is trying to convey. What supports the main argument in the passage? Are the evidence relevant, persuasive, and presented in a clear manner? Are there especially strong or weak point in the author’s arguments? Does the passage leave any important information that would persuade the readers?

Plan your writing

Like carpentry, building an excellent essay relies on thorough preparation. Make sure that you are directly answering the question and not straying off topic. Reserving some time at the beginning of the essay section to outline your answer can help save you time in refining the essay. Be sure that you clearly outline these three things in your draft:

Refer to the argument points employed by the author

Discuss the ways in which the author uses reasoning to develop his/her ideas and arguments

Point out the author’s use of style and rhetorical tools in drawing attention from the readers and to persuade them.

Be concise

A long SAT essay is not necessarily one with a high score; therefore, pack your essay to fit three pages while making sure that you present it completely. If you have planned well, you will have enough to write without going too long or too short. If your handwriting is too big, practice writing in smaller fonts. Work effectively by employing everything presented on the exam. Do not forget to indent, and do not skip lines – they can be filled in with your important ideas!

Add interesting arguments to your essay

For essays carrying higher scores, do not forget to employ your own argument style: employ literary elements, statistics, and quotes you may happen to have memorized. Used properly, these devices can be great advantages

Set your scholarship goal

In study as in work, you need to set a specific goal and strive to achieve it. A lot of students have full-ride scholarships as their goals and many of them did, indeed, fulfilled it. Before even considering the actual value of the scholarship, we need to look at the goals for each school year. The goal that is your scholarship, combined with your commitment, will give you motivation to improve your studies day by day, furthering your knowledge as well as achievements.

In addition, scholarships may also provide you with additional funding to improve and further your studies beyond the classroom. That includes money for books, equipments, or outside courses. Scholarships are great opportunities for you to reach further, not only within the country but also to the world. Full-ride scholarships are always open to those who take their chances and strive to establish a foundation for their careers. With an expert team of teachers, eTest provides you with scholarship hunting guidance from experienced mentors.


Studying is only effective if it is done with commitment. You can study with your friends in many ways, either in a group or through supporting technology. If you have the opportunity to meet native speakers, utilize that chance and try to learn something from that. Overall, the preparation for the SAT determines much of your pathway to college admissions and scholarships; however, do not let this stress you out, since increased stress will likely decrease your performance on tests. Your brain has to work constantly, so give some attention to it. We wish you achievement of your dreams.

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