A good ACT or SAT score is something you will need to get accepted to the university of your choice, and even more importantly, to get scholarship money. Do not make the mistake of thinking you are a strong student and so will automatically do well on these tests. You need to know exactly what each test is looking for and prepare accordingly. In this article I will discuss how to prepare for the SAT Reasoning exam.

Things You Will Need

Many people choose to enroll for special test prep classes, but I don't think it is necessary to spend all that money. You can spend a lot less buying a few good books and using free online resources.

The SAT has 3 sections: Critical Reading, Writing and Math. Let's look at each of these:

Step 1

Critical Reading

To achieve a high score in this section you need excellent comprehension skills. And to be able to understand the passage, you will need to understand the vocabulary used. So, it is essential to develop a great vocabulary. Whenever you read a book and come across a word you don't know - look it up. Play games online - www.freerice.org is a great site that donates rice to poor countries every time you get the definition of a word correct.

Step 2


This section focuses on correct grammar. My daughter used the Princeton Review Grammar Smarts to brush up her grammar. Also be sure to know the punctuation rules. In addition, you will have to write a short essay. Once again vocabulary plays an important part in a high score. Test prep books do go over what the testers are looking for, but if you want extra practice, I can highly recommend My Access Writing Program published by Vantage Learning. You need to buy the basic home package and then the SAT essay add-on. A subscription lasts a year and you can share it with 2 friends. Work through the online course and submit essays for immediate grading. Studies have shown that your essay should be longer rather than short - aim at round 400 words.

Step 3


This is perhaps the hardest section to prepare for if you are weak at math. Test prep books and online sites will give plenty of problems to practice, but if you find that you do not understand why you are getting the incorrect answers, you may need to go for extra math tutoring or work through a math course at home. My children have loved Life of Fred math program. The books are written in story format which makes the math both understandable and extremely enjoyable. The books are cheap and much shorter than usual programs - but they cover everything. I recommend Beginning Algebra, Advanced Algebra and Geometry for SAT prep.

Calculators are allowed - and in fact you are likely to achieve better scores if you use one on most problems. Make sure yours meets the specifications (check on the Collegeboard website) and also be sure you know how to use it as you will not have time in the test to figure it out. The general test prep books I think are the most helpful are the Princeton Review books. They explain the philosophy behind the exams as well as the best way to tackle them. The books are full of excellent tips, for example, how to know when you should guess, or when to leave the question out. My daughter followed all their advice and ended up with an excellent score. Also make use of the many free online test prep aids like the SAT question of the day you can sign up for at the Collegeboard website. SAT Preparation is another place you can find links to free resources, as well as some books your local public library might have.

Tips & Warnings

Don't leave your SAT preparation too late ... seriously, starting in middle school is a wise idea and by the time you reach high school you should be setting aside regular time each week to work on test prep.