SAT Preparation: Books, Tips, Strategy, Sections, Tricks & More

The SAT is a paper-based examination which you would have to pass if you are looking to get admitted to any college in the United States. The SAT examination started its journey in the year of 1926, and since then its name, exam method and the scoring has been changed quite a bit of time. At first, it was known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which was later changed to Scholastic Assessment Test and then again changed to SAT I: Reasoning Test.

SAT Preparation

You will be provided with 3 hours to complete the test. An additional 50 minutes will also be given if you are attempting the essay. The score of the exam will be based on two different sections, which are Evidence-based Reading and Writing and Mathematics. The score of both of these sections is graded on the scale of 200 to 800. Thus, the overall score of the SAT exam generally ranges from 400 to 1600.

 

As SAT is known to be one of the most popular examinations for college admissions in the USA, you may think that without the SAT scores, you will not be able to get into any college. You will be able to find many colleges that do not require the SAT scores for admission. Only if you are looking to get into one of the highly reputed colleges in the USA, then you will have to take and score good marks on the SAT.

 

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Format of the SAT

As you may already know, the SAT usually consists of two sections: Mathematics and Evidence-based Reading and Writing. Evidence-based reading and writing also consist of two sub-sections, which are Reading and Writing and Language. If you do your research on the pattern of the exam, then you may also be able to find an Essay section, which is optional.

 

Critical Reading Sub-section

The Reading sub-section generally carries a total of 52 questions, and you will be given 65 minutes to complete it. These questions come in a multiple-choice format, which means you will be provided with several answers for a question. Thus, you will have to find and choose the correct answer to get full marks.

 

The questions of this sub-section are generally designed to test the reading ability as well as the vocabulary of the candidate. Thus, if you want to score good marks on this sub-section, then you will need to improve your vocabulary as well as read a lot of articles and books to improve your overall knowledge.

 

Writing and Language Sub-section

The writing and language sub-section comes with a total of 44 questions, and you will be given only 35 minutes to complete this part. Like the Critical Reading sub-section, the questions of this section will also be of the multiple-choice format, and you would have to choose the correct answer to get full marks.

 

This sub-section is specifically designed to test the candidate’s grip on Grammar as well as their command on the language. So, if you are particularly weak in these parts, then start practicing as soon as possible to score better than the other students in this section.

 

Mathematics Section

Considered by many as one of the toughest parts of the SAT examination, the Mathematics section consists of 58 questions. Among these 58 questions, 20 will be of the no-calculator section and, the other 55 will be of calculator section. You will be given 25 minutes to answer all the 20 questions of the no-calculator section and 55 minutes will be provided for the 38 calculator-optional section.

 

In this section, you will not only get multiple-choice questions but will also get grid-ins which will require quite some time to answer. Thus, if you are thinking to score good marks in this section, then you will need to have a better command on Algebra as well as have to improve your problem solving and data analysis abilities.

 

Essay Section (Optional)

Some of the colleges in the USA ask for the essay score for admission while some others do not. Because of this reason, the essay section was made optional. Thus, to determine if you need to take the test, you would have to find out if the college which you are targeting to get admitted, requires the SAT essay score.

 

The SAT essays generally consist of 600 to 750 words which you would have to read first and then analyze it. You will be given 50 minutes to complete this section. To write a good essay, you would have to focus on the evidence and reasons that have been used by the author and build a convincing argument. Thus, to score high marks in this section, you will need to polish both of your reading and writing skills.

 

The questions of the SAT exam will test not only your strength on the subjects or topics but will also test various skills and abilities of yours. Thus, if you are thinking to achieve high scores on this test, then you will need to prepare for it properly.

 

How to Prepare for the SAT Exam in 2020: Tips, Tricks & Strategy

Preparation is considered to be the key for getting good marks in any kind of examination and SAT is no different. Thus, to reach your destination, you would have to start your preparation as early as possible. Listed below are some tips that can help you with it.

 

1 Make a Proper Timetable

It has been evident for a long time that following a proper routine can benefit you in various ways. Thus, if you are thinking to be well-prepared for the SAT exam, then making a timetable can be a good idea. As you would have to follow this plan until your exams, thus you would have to be very careful while planning your daily routine.

 

To do this correctly, you can take the help of a calendar and chart out the sections which you are going to study each day. You would also have to make sure that the hours are distributed equally for each of the sections. But, if you are not particularly good at any subject or topic, then be sure to give it a little bit more time than the other subjects.

 

Also, try to make a habit of sleeping as early as possible. This will help you to wake up much earlier in the morning, which is very essential for the health of your brain. Many health specialists also think that studying in the morning can be quite helpful if you are trying to read or understand a complicated topic.

 

2 Analyze New Passages Every Day

The passages, which are given in the Reading section, can generally be based on any subject or topic. Thus, theoretically, you would have to read each subject to score high marks on this section, which will be next to impossible.

 

This problem can only be solved if you start improving your reading and analyzing skills. To improve these skills, you can try to find and read the topics that are quite new to you. You can also try to analyze short articles and snippets, which can be found in various science and art magazines.

 

You can also read a new topic and try to write it in your language. This will not only improve your analyzing skills but also will polish your writing ability, which will be very beneficial if you are thinking to take the optional essay test.

 

3 Try to Get Enough Practice Resources

If you are looking to get the feel of an SAT exam hall, then the practice questions can be your best friend. These practice resources will not only be able to provide you with a clear idea about the structure of the examination but will also help you to understand the types of questions you will be facing.

 

You will be able to find enough practice resources for the official SAT website, or you can also take the help of some third-party sites that are highly reputed.

 

4 Improve Your Vocabulary

Some of the passages of the Reading section can contain a moderate number of fancy academic words which may not look familiar to you. Thus, when you are taking a small break from studying, try to utilize the time by learning new words.

 

5 Practice Math Everyday

Solving mathematical problems is a certain skill that can only be polished and improved by practicing every day. This habit can also help you to cover the whole syllabus of Mathematics much more quickly and easily.

 

Also, practicing the Mathematical problems regularly can help you to get familiar with some of the important phrases and keywords such as ‘besides’, ‘in addition to’, ‘more’, ‘less’ etc. This will help you to solve the problems on the day of your exam even more quickly. You will also be able to eliminate the obvious incorrect choices almost immediately if you practice Math every day.

 

6 Practice Using a Calculator

As the optional-calculator section of Mathematics carries a lot of questions, you will need to know how to use a calculator properly. If you keep fiddling with your calculator on the examination hall, then you will not be able to answer all the questions of the section.

 

7 Learn to Manage Your Time

Managing your time on the day of the exam can be quite difficult if you have not practiced it before. This is another reason why most people take practice tests regularly as it can help you to learn the ways to manage your time.

 

8 General Tips and Strategies for the Exam

Even after good preparation, many people do not score much on the test because of not following some common strategies. So, follow these general strategies and apply them to each section to achieve a high score on the examination.

  • Read sectional directions properly before the test. This will help you to navigate through the question paper quite easily.
  • Go through every section of your test carefully and mark the questions which you can answer almost immediately. Doing this will help you to save a large amount of your time.
  • After being redesigned in 2016, the questions in the SAT exam do not come with negative marks, which means your marks will not be deducted even if your answer is incorrect. This feature is relatively new and enables the students to guess the answers. You can take advantage of this feature by trying to eliminate the wrong answers, which may lead to the right answer.
  • Always try to be neat when filling the answer grid. As a machine will score your test paper, putting any kind of stray marks can lead to various complications.
  • When going through the question paper, you will be able to find a lot of easy questions. Try to answer these questions as quickly as possible to save your time for the relatively tougher ones.
  • Always bring your watch or timer if the examination center allows it. This will also help you to manage your time properly.
  • Do not waste much time on a question if it seems tough. If you do not know the answer, then move on to the question. You can always come back to it when you are done with the other questions.
  • Understand the question first before answering it. If you do not understand a question properly, then you may answer it incorrectly.
  • Many people tend to place their answer at the wrong place as they are trying to finish their paper quickly. So, paying close attention to your paper is the key.
  • When you are answering a question by guessing it, go for your first response. Only change your answer if you think your answer is wrong.

 

9 Section-wise Tips

If you have come this far, then you may already have a clear idea about the format of the SAT examination. Listed below are some section-wise tips that will be able to boost your confidence by helping you with your preparation.

 

Critical Reading

This sub-section generally comes with two parts, which are: Reading Comprehension and Sentence Completion. Reading Comprehension contributes to almost 65% of the Critical Reading questions, while the others are contributed by Sentence Completion.

 

Reading Comprehension

This part comes with several passages which you have to read and then answer the questions. The questions will be based on the passages, so you will have to read them properly and thoroughly. Some of the tips that can help you to score better in this part are:

  • Do not jump to the questions first. Read the associated passages thoroughly.
  • Try to identify the main idea and the inner meaning of the passages. This can help you to answer even complicated questions.
  • Read the introductory texts twice.
  • Always answer those questions first which seem easier to you. This is very important for managing your time properly.
  • Write only those pieces of information which the question requires.
  • Generally, the first and the last sentence of the passage contain the most important information. So, be sure to read them more than once.
  • Read the passage only once and try to memorize most of the details. Re-reading the passage at the time of answering the questions will be nothing but a waste of your time.

 

Sentence Completion

  • This part carries almost 35% of the overall questions, so be very careful and attentive when answering these questions. Following are some tips that can help you in numerous ways.
  • You should always be quick when answering the questions of Sentence Completion as this part is relatively easier. But, do not rush through the selections and be sure to review the answers.
  • If you find any unfamiliar word, then re-read the whole sentence again. This may help you to understand the meaning of the unknown word.
  • Try not to overlook the reversing effect of negative words such as ‘not’.
  • Use transition words such as also, in addition to or likewise.
  • To get better marks in this section, you will need to polish your reading ability. You can do this by reading articles and blogs on various topics which will also improve your overall knowledge.

 

Writing and Language

Your grip on English grammar needs to be very strong if you want to score good marks in this section. Here are some tips that can help you:

  • Make sure to increase the word count in your vocabulary. This will prevent you from using the same words twice or thrice in a sentence.
  • Learn the rules of using commas, dashes, colons, semi-colons, and apostrophes properly. Using them correctly will help you to make your answer easier to read and understand.
  • Fill up your vocabulary with multiple-meaning words. These words when used properly can make your answer look more harmonized.
  • Revise the most important rules of grammar at least a week before your exams. This will prevent you from making any kind of silly mistakes.
  • If you want to learn to structure your sentence properly, then you will have to read a lot of articles. Also, make sure to revise the common sections of grammar which can help you to improve your writing skill even more.

 

Mathematics

  • The only way to get good marks in this section is to practice mathematical problems every day. Regular practice can also help you to manage your time properly, which is very essential for completing this section.
  • As time can be the biggest barrier for you to get this section completed, you should always answer the questions which seem easier to you. This is one of the most common strategies that almost every candidate applies.
  • Make sure not to provide the mixed numbers as your answer. This strategy is mainly applicable to the grid-ins.
  • Always visit the tougher questions when you are done with the other questions. Since you will not be penalized for giving incorrect answers, make sure to answer all the questions.
  • Revise your method again if you come up with a negative answer.
  • Learn shortcut tricks and use them when needed. They can help you to solve many mathematical problems very quickly.

 

Best Books for SAT Preparation

Books have always been our good friends and if you are preparing for the SAT, then some books can even be your best friends. Books generally come with a lot of information and data and will be able to clear almost all the confusions that you have regarding that subject.

 

But, as so many books have been published on the topics of SAT, it can be quite tough to find the right ones. Thus, to help you, we are listing below some of the books that most experts consider to be the best.

 

1 The Complete Guide to SAT Reading by Erica L. Meltzer

This book can help you massively if you are having trouble with SAT reading passages. You will be able to find all the relevant information in a passage more quickly if you follow this book. Many people have also stated that this book has helped them to improve their vocabulary.

 

2 The New Sat: 1500+ Practice Questions by The Tutoverse

If you are looking for a book that comes with a lot of problems that can make the practice sessions even more fun, then this book is the one for you. Each of the questions comes with a detailed answer which will help you to understand the problem properly.

 

Also, as you go deeper into the book, you will find the questions becoming progressively difficult. This will also help you to understand the level of your preparation.

 

3 The Official SAT Study Guide by College Board

This book was written by the examiners and the authors of SAT. Thus, the practice questions provided in this book will be almost the same as that of the exams. You will also be provided with a step-by-step guide to all the entire practice questions which will bolster your preparation even more.

 

4 New SAT Essay by IES Test Prep

This book will be extremely beneficial for those students who are thinking to get ready for the SAT essays. It includes over 100 practice exercises as well as 105 essay mastery exercises which can help you to improve your writing skills quite easily.

 

You would have to score at least 60% if you want to get admitted to a good college in the USA. Thus, make good use of your time and bolster your preparation in every way possible. Also, remember not to panic or get stressed if you find the questions to be extremely difficult. So, always be confident and take a positive approach towards everything.

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