How to Ace the SAT: Complete SAT Study Guide

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, more commonly known as the SAT is a standardized test administered by the Educational Testing Service, intended to assess college or university readiness. This test is taken by high school juniors and seniors and is designed to measure literacy, numeracy and writing skills. It also requires registration and a fee of approximately $52.

The SAT has two main sections, the evidence-based reading and writing section, and the math section. The evidence-based reading and writing section is divided into two tests on reading, as well as writing and language. The math section is also divided into two further tests, one in which calculator use is allowed, and one in which it is not. Below is a table to show how long each section takes to complete.

Section Time (Minutes)
Mathematics 80
Evidence-Based Reading & Writing 100
Whole Test 180


This is a very important test, and as with many other tests, there are various ways to study for it, no matter how much time you have left to study before the big day. In this article we will delve into some of these study methods and give you some extra tips, to make your test day a little easier for you.

Study Tips for Taking The SAT

Helpful tips
Source: Freepik


Source: Collegeboard

1. Start early

Planning ahead is always a smart move, and when it comes to the SATs it’s even more so. It is recommended to schedule your test at least 2 – 3 months in advance. Having more time to study and prepare, gives you more confidence and will ensure you do well on your test.

2. Take a full-length practise test (to figure out your strengths and weaknesses)

Taking a full-length practice test, with the same time limits as the real SAT will help you determine how you’ll score. It’s best to treat every practise test as if it were the real test, from start to finish. Doing this will also help you determine where your strengths and weaknesses are, and that will narrow down what you have to focus more of your attention on.

3. Pay attention in class

All teachers have said these words over and over, but there’s a reason for it. The SAT was changed in 2016, to be more closely linked to what you are taught in class. This means that by paying attention in class, you’re already studying for the SATs on some level.

4. Know what to expect on test day

A test as important as the SAT can be quite intimidating. Knowing what to expect on the day of your test is very important. Besides knowing the format and structure of the test, it is important to know where your testing centre is, and how you’ll get to it on time. Knowing all of these little things eliminates unnecessary stress on your test day.

5. Set your score goal

Having a clear score goal to work towards, tells you how hard you have to work in order to achieve that goal. Once you have achieved that goal you will be filled with confidence, and it will be an indication that all your hard work has paid off.

6. Expand your SAT vocabulary

Knowing what certain words mean, as well as when and where to use them is very important. There are many words in the English language and not all of them are used very often. For the SAT reading and writing test, your vocabulary and understanding will be tested. So it’s time to go brush up on your English skills.

7. Make a study plan and stick to it

Part of being well prepared for a test is setting up a study plan. A study plan involves examining the amount of work you have to study, and breaking it up into sections that are more manageable for you. This will also ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work.

8. Take a break the night before the SAT

Studying is very important, but so is taking a break, especially on the night before your test. Taking the night off to relax a bit and prepare yourself mentally for the test will fill you with self-assurance and energy. Pack your test bag, with all you’ll need, lay out your clothes, set an alarm and make sure you go to bed early to be as prepared as you can be for your SAT.

9. Try not to get too stressed out!

It’s not always easy to control stress and anxiety before a test, but it is important to try. There are many methods of stress-relieving before a test, but every person has a different way to relax before a test. I used to listen to Stray Kids’ music before a test, find a method that works for you and stick to it. You have worked hard, and now it’s time to trust in yourself and your abilities.

How to study for SAT

Studying girl illustration
Source: Freepik


Now that we’ve gone through some helpful tips to make studying, and taking the test a bit easier, let’s move on to resources to help you study for the SAT.

Source: Khan Academy

1. Online program

There are various programs online, designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills you will need to succeed on your SAT. These programs include math lessons, and reading and writing lessons to aid you in all sections of the test. There are also many videos available, on specific topics you might struggle with that you can find on YouTube.

There are wonderful online writing courses out there, to help you sharpen up your English writing skills. These programs aim to improve, listening, reading and writing skills in English.

2. Preparation course

Being thoroughly prepared is the first, and most important step to success. Preparation courses are a great way to ensure you get all the work done that you’ll need to know on the day. These courses are designed to supply you with the knowledge you need, as well as test this knowledge in a similar fashion to the SAT.

IELTS and TOEFL are both wonderful choices to test your English proficiency, there are certain differences in their approaches, so it might be worth looking into which one suits you best: IELTS vs TOEFL.

Khan Academy is an organization that works in collaboration with the college board to help students prepare for the SAT. It offers an extensive course that will equip you with the necessary skills to ace your SAT.

3. Private tutor

Textbooks and online resources can only help you so much, sometimes there are things that you can only figure out and understand when it is discussed with another person. A private tutor can help you iron out some of the finer details of things, and help you get a firm grasp on all subjects covered in your test. You can schedule a session whenever it’s convenient for you, and you can even schedule lessons online or in person. Making learning an interactive experience goes a long way, and that’s exactly what a private tutor offers!

Tiny people
Source: Freepik


What to do if you have 6 months left until the SAT

Source: Khan Academy

You have more than enough time. Go in search of various online resources, figure out which will help you most and use them. Take practice tests (timed or untimed) and make use of practice quizzes or questions, found in books or on websites. Identify your weaknesses and work hard on them from the get-go!

And last, but certainly not least, take it slow, and take breaks to avoid fatigue.

What to do if you have 3 months left until the SAT

You have sufficient time to study. By now you should have a good idea of what your weaknesses are. Now it’s time to put an end to these weaknesses by taking practice tests and doing many more practice questions and quizzes. If you haven’t yet found helpful online resources, you still have time to find some.

What to do if you have 1 month left until the SAT

This is a less ideal timeframe, but with hard work and dedication, you can do it. Prioritize taking practice tests, and doing practice questions. This will help you familiarize yourself with the test format as well.

Below is a graph representing the above-mentioned timelines (with one extra, just for fun) and information:

Sat test graph

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Source: Collegeboard

I am sure we have answered some of your most pressing questions in this article, but certainly not all of them. Here are some FAQs for you to check out, for some of the questions you may still have:


Go Ace Your SAT!

I know this article was long and filled to the brim with important information. Take your time reading it, and make sure you get all the information you need from it. Never forget to trust in yourself and your abilities, if you’ve followed these study tips, you’ll be fine.

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Good luck with your SAT.


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