SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

New SAT Practice Tests: 3 Tips for Finding and Using Them

Posted by Francesca Fulciniti | Sep 22, 2019 12:00:00 PM

New SAT

 

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In order to study effectively for the SAT, it’s important to use practice tests that test the same strategy and content as the SAT does. With the major SAT overhaul in 2016, this means turning to updated, more recent materials.

Official College Board practice tests are the gold standard when it comes to prep materials. Here, you’ll find free links to all official SAT practice tests, essays, answer keys, and scoring guides, along with tips and strategies for how to use them.

You might notice, though, that there’s a limit to how many free official SAT resources are available. For those who want to prep with other high-quality SAT practice problems and tests, we offer you some useful alternatives to official practice tests.

 

Free Official SAT Practice Tests

These following tests are the only free official practice tests for the current version of the SAT. If you need preparatory material, these practice tests are the best things you can use. 

In order to prepare effectively for the SAT, you'll want to use practice problems that test the same content in the same ways and with the same timing restrictions as the actual test.

If you use sub-par practice materials, you might be doing yourself more harm than good by preparing for things that won't actually help you on the SAT—this ultimately just wastes your time and leaves you under-prepared, even if you study hard.

Actual SAT practice tests from the College Board meet all the criteria listed above because they're written by the makers of the SAT

Currently, there are 10 SAT practice tests available for download on the College Board website:

 

Practice Test 1: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 2: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 3: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 4: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 5: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 6: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 7: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 8: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 9: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

Practice Test 10: Questions | Answers | Answer Explanations | Essay

 

How to Use Official SAT Practice Tests Effectively

With a limited number of official SAT practice tests available, you'll want to make sure that you use each and every practice problem as effectively and efficiently as possible. Follow these steps to get the most out of the official tests.

 

#1: Mimic Official Testing Conditions

You need to use official practice tests because they're as close to the real SAT as you can get. In order to get the most out of them, you should also recreate real SAT testing conditions as best you can. 

This means you should do the following:

  • Take each test straight through in a single sitting, if possible. The SAT test requires an extended period of intense focus—the more you practice these marathon testing sessions, the better off you'll be on test day.
  • Time each section carefully. Many students have issues with timing on the SAT test. Giving yourself any extra time (even just a couple minutes) on one section could lead you to believe that you're performing better than you actually are.

 

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Even if you can't take a whole practice SAT straight through, be sure you time each section appropriately.

 

#2: Do a Post-Mortem After Every Test

The whole point of investing time and energy in SAT practice is to learn from your mistakes and improve your score. If you do a ton of practice but never figure out where you're messing up, your scores won't get better—it's as simple as that. 

For more tips on how to analyze your practice materials, read our guide on the best way to review your mistakes on the SAT.

 

#3: Don't Use These Practice Tests All at Once

With only 10 official practice tests, you're limited when it comes to optimal practice materials. As such, it's important to pace yourself and use the official tests wisely. 

This means that you should only move on to the next practice test after you've thoroughly reviewed your mistakes from the previous one. You might even want to redo tough questions (after a waiting period) to see whether you can figure them out after going back over the material. 

 

What Are Your Other Options for SAT Practice Materials?

These official SAT tests are a good place to start, but you could run out of practice material quickly if you have an intensive study plan. Here are some other options you have for getting your hands on quality study materials.

 

Use PSAT Practice Tests

The PSAT is created by the College Board (the makers of the SAT) and very closely resembles the SAT. Though not a perfect match, the PSAT is extremely similar to what you'll see on the SAT. As a result, official PSAT practice tests can be great alternatives to SAT practice tests.

You can find a complete list of PSAT practice tests in our guide.

 

Get an SAT Prep Book

You should have the same concerns about SAT prep books that you do about free online SAT prep materials: you want to make sure that they’re as close to the real deal as possible so you can study effectively.

If you choose to get an SAT prep book, take care to buy a highly rated, legitimate resource.

You can start by checking out our guide to the best SAT books—it's updated regularly so you know you're getting the most up-to-date recommendations.

 

Use Other College Board Resources

The College Board has other practice materials available besides their complete official practice tests. You can check out individual practice questions on their website for the Math, Reading, Writing and Language, and Essay sections.

You can also utilize College Board-approved practice problems on Khan Academy. Although this is a great resource, keep in mind that there are problems with just relying on this service to prepare for the SAT. 

 

Use Free Unofficial SAT Practice Tests (With Caution)

Free unofficial SAT practice tests can be good resources for students who will be doing a lot of prep and require supplementary materials.

That said, there are a few things to be wary of when you look for unofficial tests:

  • Free test-prep materials, by virtue of being free, are often lower quality than paid prep materials are

  • They might not test the same content in the same way that you'll see on the real SAT

These tests might be particularly helpful if you're already a high scorer and want to do a deep dive into what makes official materials different from unofficial ones.

Ultimately, unofficial tests are best for untimed SAT content review. Don't worry if you end up coming across any weird question types or content—you can simply skip these.

Start your search for unofficial tests with our massive guide to free SAT prep materials.

 

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Be careful to think critically about how unofficial materials differ from the real SAT.

 

Use PrepScholar to Stay Linked In

PrepScholar will always be a great, free, and reliable resource for students trying to prep for the SAT. Our SAT blog is constantly updated to keep up with changing test content and strategy. 

Some of our most popular posts on the SAT include the following:

 

What's Next?

Still looking for more SAT resources? Then check out our complete collection of free SAT prep materials and learn how to use old SAT practice tests to study for the current version of the test.

You'll also need to make sure you understand what's on each section: Math, Reading, Writing, and the Essay.

And don't forget to read up on the best tips and tricks for acing the SAT!

 

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Francesca Fulciniti
About the Author

Francesca graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and scored in the 99th percentile on the SATs. She's worked with many students on SAT prep and college counseling, and loves helping students capitalize on their strengths.



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