SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

The Best SAT Prep Websites You Should Be Using

Posted by Rebecca Safier | Jul 31, 2017 12:00:00 PM

SAT Strategies

 

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The SAT has been around in one form or another since 1901. Through all its changes, probably the most helpful one for you is the rise of free online practice questions and guides covering every aspect of the test.

Rather than having to carry around 400-page practice books like the students of yesteryear (ie, the 90s), you can use these online resources to prep from anywhere with Internet. To help you discern the high quality resources from the low, this guide will break down the SAT prep websites you need to review content, learn strategies, and of course, find practice questions.

 

Disclaimer

This article is one of many detailed guides offered (for free!) by PrepScholar. If you explore our other articles, you'll find in depth information and analyses of all aspects of the SAT and ACT, from suggested study schedules to how to read passages to how to choose your test dates. Plus, we like to keep on top of those high profile cheating scandals that keep resulting in SAT score cancellations across the globe.

I personally think PrepScholar offers the most insightful and high level guidance around every step of the testing process. Its customized online test prep program, furthermore, tracks your progress and does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. That's why I'll link out to our various guides when appropriate, to give you a sense of all the different areas we cover and continue to add to everyday. But you should be your own judge.

At the same time, there are several other sites with highly useful information for your test prep. Rather than listing them in a row, I'll organize them by the testing steps you're looking for, starting with test registration and followed by guides for scheduling, test-taking strategies, and finally, practice questions. Starting with registration, what websites do you need to sign up for the SAT?

 

Websites to Register for the SAT

To register for the SAT, you need to create an account with the College Board. But if you want some thoughtful advice about when to register and choose your test dates, you can also check out PrepScholar's guides and discussion threads on College Confidential.

 

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The College Board

If you've heard of the SAT, then you've probably heard of the College Board. They administer the SAT and send your score reports to colleges. To register, you have to create an account and upload a picture. You can also use their site to search for and learn about colleges across the country, as well as access their practice questions and test (which I'll discuss further below).

As of 2015, the College Board has finally started to admit the importance of test prep for doing well on its highly unique test. In a laudable effort to equalize access to resources for all students, the College Board offers some free test material on its website, along with study resources via its collaborator, Khan Academy. I’ll discuss more about these test prep resources below, but first let’s finish up with the best websites for SAT sign-up.

You logistically need the College Board’s website to register for the SAT, send your score reports to colleges, and use Score Choice. However, I wouldn't recommend it as the best online resource for learning about when to register, how to choose your test dates, and when to take the SAT for the first time, all questions that should be answered with a sense of strategy and purpose.

 

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PrepScholar

If you have questions about registration beyond the logistics, I recommend PrepScholar's guides on When to Take the SAT for the First Time and How Many Times Should You Take the SAT?. Your choice of test dates might also be influenced by your colleges' policies towards superscoring the SAT or providing SAT-based scholarships.

All of these considerations are a departure from College Board's answer to just register for the SAT once or twice. Before signing up, I would recommend reading more about when and how many times to take the SAT so you can design a testing strategy that works best for you.

 

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Ask the Dean on College Confidential

In addition to PrepScholar's guides, College Confidential has several student and parent discussion threads about registering for the SAT, which you can peruse or even join the conversation. The Ask the Dean forum has some advice about how many times to take the SAT. It suggests three - more than the College Board, but fewer than what PrepScholar recommends depending on your circumstances and goals. 

You can check out the forums here and PrepScholar's guides, and then head over to the College Board and sign up for your test date. Choosing your test dates and registering is one of the easier parts of prepping for and taking the SAT. Your first step to prepare should probably be learning exactly what's on the test.

 

Websites for Learning What's on the SAT

What concepts are tested on the SAT? How many questions do you have to answer in how many minutes? What are the different skill sets you need for Writing and Reading, and just how advanced do the math questions get? The following SAT websites are the most useful for learning the content and format of the test and what your instructions will say on test day.

 

The College Board

The College Board website breaks down the format and skills tested on each section of the SAT. You can read about the SAT, and go "inside the test" to learn about specifications and concepts tested in the Reading, MathWriting, and essay sections. Some of the descriptions are a bit wordy and confusing, so you'll have to look elsewhere if you want to read about the test in more accessible language.

Recently, the College Board also published charts comparing the SAT to the ACT. You'll see a lot of similarities between content and format. You'll also see the College Board pushing its free practice questions with Khan Academy - and the ACT's lack of a similar free service - perhaps as a way to persuade students to choose the SAT. If you're deciding between the two tests, these charts can be a helpful resource. Just remember to be discerning about where this information is coming from! 

 

Khan Academy 

In addition to its practice questions, Khan Academy has resources that explain the structure of the SAT. It has six articles and corresponding videos describing the format and content of each section, the essay, and scoring. It also has a helpful glossary of SAT terms that go over what exactly terms like "percentile" and "raw score" mean. If you're tired of reading and would prefer to watch some explanatory videos, then Khan Academy is probably your best source for video explanations of what's on the SAT. 

 

PrepScholar

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I recommend PrepScholar again for its in-depth coverage of each section of the SAT. You can read about exactly what's tested on the Reading, Writing, and Math sections, as well as about the evidence-based essay. Our full guide to the redesigned SAT is here, as well as a more detailed look at how the SAT is scored and average test scores for students across all grade levels.

We also do an in-depth comparison of the SAT and the ACT - and we have no agenda for you to choose one college admissions test over the other! Here are some more key guides for understanding the content and format of the SAT.

These are just a few of the guides, and you can explore the SAT General Info articles for more information about topics like content, test dates, Score Choice, scoring, score verification, and score cancellation, and the best books for your test prep.

While learning about the content, format, and instructions of the SAT is relatively straightforward, getting effective strategies for answering questions and saving time are fewer and farther between. I'll provide you with links to some of PrepScholar's numerous strategy guides for approaching each section of the SAT, followed by some useful blogs you might not have heard of.

 

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Websites for SAT Strategy

One key part of your SAT prep that you won't find much of on the College Board's website or Khan Academy is strategy. The College Board doesn't want you to know that its questions follow a certain standardized template, or that you will usually find the same kind of wrong answers on Reading questions meant to distract you from the correct one. Nor is it going to give you strategies for reading the passages as quickly and efficiently as possible or managing your time on the math sections.

Unfortunately, there aren't as many strong websites for strategies out there for the new SAT as there were for the old SAT. Over time, online SAT writers should catch up to the changes and provide students with the same level of information as they did before 2016.

For now, I'll recommend PrepScholar's strategy guides on the new SAT and Erica Meltzer's blog on the verbal sections. Erik the Red also has useful info on math, but his site hasn't been entirely updated. That means it's up to you to focus on the relevant math concepts while not wasting time on outdated content. Read on for a closer look at strategy guides you can locate online.

 

PrepScholar Strategy Guides

The following are ten of the most useful and popular of PrepScholar's strategy guides on the SAT. There are many more that you can find under the "SAT Strategy" category, as well as new articles being added everyday.

These are just a small sampling of the strategy guides, and PrepScholar has numerous guides specific to Math, Critical Reading, and Writing for students in grades nine through 12 and even middle schoolers who might be starting early or taking the SAT to qualify for talent competitions. We also keep up with trends and events in the world of the SAT, like with our articles on Do Longer SAT Essays Really Score Higher? and Is the New SAT a Reaction to the Common Core? 

 

 

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Erica Meltzer's The Critical Reader

Erica Meltzer's blog is useful for prepping for the Reading, Writing, and essay sections of the SAT. She doesn't offer as much information yet for the current SAT as she did the old, pre-2016 SAT, and some of her SAT Reading tips have been merged with ACT Reading since the tests have become so similar. Still, she has some useful posts and will most likely to continue to add to them over the year. Here are some posts worth checking out:

You can explore her blog for more tips on the verbal sections. The posts are engaging, but they leave it up to you to seek out examples and sample questions to try out Meltzer's advice.

 

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Erik the Red

While Erica Meltzer focuses on verbal, Erik the Red is all about the SAT math. This SAT website lets you download pdfs with math facts and formulas, strategies, and math-related vocabulary. The resources here are useful for both the math section of the SAT and the SAT Subject Test in math.

However, it's important to note that this website is even less updated for the new SAT than Erica Meltzer's blog. The math resources have remained unchanged since the old SAT, so they don't reflect the changes in format, question type, and skills tested. I decided to keep it on this list, though, because many of the same math concepts, especially in algebra, are still essential to your performance on the SAT math sections.

The pdfs on this website are still useful review for content areas like linear equations, nonlinear equations, functions, quadratic equations, and graphs. You could use them as review, but make sure to focus on the skills that will be present on the SAT and leave out the ones that are less important. You don't have to focus too much on geometry, for instance, since it will only show up in about 3-5% of questions. 

Given the options for free online resources, I think PrepScholar's guides offer the best strategies out there for mastering the SAT. Of course, just reading about strategies won't take you too far in excelling on the test; you have to make sure they work for you as you answer questions under the pressure of time. That being said, let's answer the really critical question of this guide: where can you find high quality SAT practice questions?

 

Websites for Free SAT Practice Questions

If you're looking for free practice questions for the SAT, you should definitely create an account with Khan Academy. They recently came out with practice questions and video instruction for the SAT in conjunction with the College Board. You can also find online questions on the College Board wesbite and download practice test pdfs from PrepScholar and CrackSAT.net.

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Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers a scaffolded SAT prep program that diagnoses your level and takes you through practice questions, step by step. It was developed in collaboration with the College Board, so the practice questions are official and realistic. Their combination of video and written explanations will also appeal to different learning styles.

On Khan Academy's interactive site, you can set up an account and take diagnostic tests in each section of the SAT. Then Khan Academy will suggest what level you should focus on and, much like PrepScholar's customized approach, present you with the question types that will most help you improve. It breaks each section down into subtopics and gives you some helpful tips for how to structure your prep schedule. Because it keeps track of your progress, you can log in from anywhere with internet and pick up where you left off. 

While the review is thorough, the limited number of practice questions and lack of testing strategy mean that Khan Academy probably isn't sufficient as your only source of practice problems. It should definitely be one of them, though. You can sign up for your free account here or log in via Facebook or Google.

 

The College Board

The College Board is another critical site for online practice questions. Official questions from the testmakers are always the gold standard when it comes to test prep. You can practice with online Reading, Writing, and Math questions and automatically see your correct answers and mistakes, along with answer explanations. You can also read two sample essay prompts, plus sample essays that scored at levels 1 through 8.

In addition to these online, automatically scored practice questions, you can find eight free official practice tests (these include the tests in the College Board book, so I advise printing them out on your own rather than buying the book for the same material). You can time yourself as you take these practice tests, which resemble what you'll get on test day, and then spend time correcting them with the answer keys provided. 

Khan Academy and the College Board are the best resources for free online practice problems for the SAT. While you may notice that resources are still limited for the redesigned SAT, you shouldn't discount the role that old SAT tests can still play in your prep. As long as you familiarize yourself with the changes and adjust your materials accordingly, you can still use old SAT practice tests very effectively to prepare. As for where you can find these previously administered official tests, we have a bunch on PrepScholar, and there's also a big collection at CrackSAT.net.

 

PrepScholar

We've compiled 8 official old practice tests from the past few years that you can download, print, and take on your own. While these tests represent the old version of the SAT, they may still be useful to your prep as long as you focus on relevant question types and eliminate ones you'll no longer need, like sentence completions. You'll have to score these tests on your own, as well as take the time to understand your mistakes and analyze the answer choices.

You can also try out a 5-day free trial of PrepScholar's online test prep program. For these 5 days, you'll have access to the entire program and can try out whether this approach to test prep works for you. PrepScholar helps break down your SAT prep into manageable goals, tracks your progress, and customizes your studying so you're focusing on the practice problems where you need the most improvement. If you enjoy this approach to test prep, then you can continue on with the entire program. If not, then you can call it quits after your 5-day trial.

 

CrackSAT.net

This website also has free official practice tests of the old SAT that you can download, pdfs of both practice tests and answer keys. Again you have to score these yourself and take the time to understand and analyze any mistakes you make. The website is a bit tough to navigate, but once you wind your way through it you'll have some real SAT practice tests in your download folder.

Taken together, this collection of websites and blogs should give you a ton of information about the content and format of the SAT, strategies to try out, and official SAT practice questions. Read on to learn the steps you should take the best use these online resources for the SAT.

 

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Your To-Do List for Using SAT Websites

There are a bunch of ways you can connect to these SAT websites online. For some of them, like PrepScholar's strategy guides and Erica Meltzer's blog, you can just visit the website and take time to read the articles and posts. Then try out the various strategies as you take practice tests.

For the College Board and Khan Academy, you want to register an account and keep track of your usernames and passwords. To post on College Confidential, you also will need to register an account. This can help you connect with a community of students and parents going through the same process, many of whom have the same questions or experiences as you.

While the College Board is the official site for all things SAT, I would recommend against taking all of their advice as definitive. They aren't going to promote test strategies too much, as they don't want anyone to be as much of an SAT expert as the testmakers themselves.

You'll be better served by searching for high quality strategies and insights into the test on these other websites, and then trying them out on official practice questions and/or during PrepScholar's 5-day free trial. By combining strategy with content readiness and practicing with official SAT practice questions, you'll be able to improve your score a great deal across all dates you choose to take the SAT.

 

What's Next?

While I provided some links to popular strategies on the SAT, you can continue to browse SAT strategy guides here. Some are specific to Math, Critical Reading, or Writing, while others cover general approaches like saving time, the right way to guess, and using process of elimination.

For more general information about the SAT, you can find in-depth articles and guides here.

For more on the college admissions process, check out our complete guide to applying to college.

 

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Rebecca Safier
About the Author

Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.



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