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You’re Making These Two Mistakes Studying for SATs

If you’re like most, the process of studying for the SAT is frustrating. You sit taking practice test after practice test. You try to read the contents of that famous blue book cover to cover but you quickly lose focus. You’re not alone.

SAT Studying Mistake #1

One mistake students make is disregarding mastery of challenging areas. The reality is that studying for the SAT is formulaic. If you break down each official test, you’ll find that you actually don’t have to learn lots of information. You just need to learn a key few areas and types of questions the SAT repeatedly tests so you can recognize what you’re being asked and when and apply the effective strategy.


Improving your score is all about leveraging data to figure out your score yield. Do you know, for example, what questions make up 70% of the SAT and the specific categories within those that you struggle with? Or do you know whether you struggle with easy, medium, or hard questions?


Your data will help answer such questions and is the first step towards deliberately improving your score while minimizing frustration.


Studying Mistake #2

Another common mistake we see students make is failing to define a specific score goal. What do YOU need to score on the SAT to get into the school of your choice?


When thinking about competitive schools, answering this question is even more important as the competition is higher than it’s ever been. Only once you have achieved the necessary SAT or ACT score should you even begin to worry about the other components of the application such as the essay, activity list, or interview. The sad reality is that especially at top schools, your SAT or ACT score is often a make or break.


Remember, the SAT is one part of the college admissions process that’s used to determine whether you’re academically qualified for the college you’re applying to. If you’re already scoring above the 75th percentile of the school you’re looking at, for example, you’d be better off spending time developing your activity list or writing an essay. However, if you have not achieved the score you need, a thorough activity list or stellar essay won’t do you much good.


Unfortunately, students underestimate rather than overestimate what score they need to get into the college of their choice. Often this is because the SAT requirements when parents applied to school were drastically lower—Dartmouth, for example, has ≈ 100-point increasein the middle 50% of accepted students between 2005 and 2020. Understanding your score goal is critical before creating your study plan.


If your SAT test is coming up soon and you want to make sure you’re prepared, learn how to get a great SAT score in 2023.



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